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Sunday, 28 October 2018

Book review: Do Everything in the Dark, Gary Indiana (2003)

When I was a young man and was still asking questions about who I was I met a man in a disco on Oxford Street in Darlinghurst who was very ironic. He was also clearly gay. I used to visit him in his house on a street in the same suburb and one day he took me in his car to Enmore where tradesmen he had contracted to do work for him were in the process of renovating a terrace house. In my poetry I call him Arturo but I don’t remember his name. He lived on the fringes of social acceptability and this was what drew me to him. He worked for the post office and his boyfriend’s name was January. January studied Arabic.

I visited another house in Darlinghurst one day after a party that had been held at my house in Newtown. I had met a girl there and we had danced to ‘New York, New York’. Back at her place she took off her shirt and raked my chest with her fingernails. I was confused and soon left. I don’t remember her name but she and the man I have named Arturo remind me of Gary Indiana. There is a certain superficiality in the case, a pose that you strike for the purpose of making an impression, but this is as deep as you get, this place situated just below the surface of life, where dreams come to either live or die.

There is no attempt in this book to create a singular place where ideas and feelings can be explored. The only guarantee of usefulness you have is one that is based entirely on whether something has been experienced by the author in his wanderings in New York or Los Angeles. Name-dropping is par for the course. But within this restricted circle of friends and acquaintances the drama, if that is what is on offer, plays out in a desultory fashion. It’s all frightfully conventional, like a second-hand version of Kapuscinski or a forgery that is meant to look like a Miro. The currency used in this world is all at one remove from originality, rooted firmly in a facsimile of sensation that leaves the visitor wondering what all the fuss was all about.

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