Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A set, restored to print

In the back pages of rmbl there is
to be found an outcry on the adop-
tion of imagery of this conduct to
portray anything but self-destruc-
tion. It happens to suit a discus-
sion of David Leavitt's latest ef-
fort, The Two Hotel Francforts, an
impressively popular rumination on

The book comes to us with blurbs
immunising it almost against com-
prehension, much less any further
admiration. This is too bad. It's
worth reading, even if one cannot
qualify as such an innocent as to
share Edmund White's sense of be-
ing manipulated by a "master." It
is a totally serviceable portrait
of a set whose play with sex and
money is intimidated, and thereby
wasted, by indulgent privilege. I 
study the paradox, not quite as a
first impression.

Such is the patrimony of our con-
ception of homosexuality, that a
Hispano-Suiza is, like the Kelly
simply neutered whenever it may
make its entrance. It does no
good to mourn the faux libera-
tionism in a tale of morbid mat- 
uring millionaires*, mouthing mi-
metic medial parts, when, after
all, there is much to mesmerise
in the allusions they can mus-
ter, to literature, painting or
sculpture which remain tragical-
ly alien to the common mind. And
such an enviable part, on these
occasions, too.

The common mind suspends its
natural truancy from works on
pompous parlour games, if sex
might be conjugated en route.
Intellectual tasting of life
will not supersede muscular
activity, Mr Emerson warned,
anatomising our experience. 
Drawing from Chaucer, Leavitt
goes so far as to ask its help. 
This is not the least of what
one can extract from this os-
tensibly superficial text, be-
cause it is not to be put past
this writer to be discomfiting
the settled, even as he might
hoist a living from the pruri-
ent, fashionbound, and dazed.
He has an attack to mount on
treachery to privilege, and, 
aw, shucks. Hear him out. It
isn't every day, our enter-
tainments dare go near the
water. He serves, who also 

  You know, you're wrong to       think I'm smart, [Edward         Freleng] said. The truth is,     I'm just a junk heap. All       these allusions and             references, these little         associations I draw - they're   junk. And all I do all day is   sift through them, line them     up, move them around. 

David Leavitt
The Two Hotel Francforts
  A Novel
Bloomsbury, 2013©

Ralph Waldo Emerson
Essays: Second Series
David Mikics, editor
The Annotated Emerson
op. cit.

* the dollar in 1940

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