Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Some Dance to Remember--or Forget?

Greetings, Fellow Bookmen--

Apologies for the delay in posting this message, but I did want to report that we had a good turnout and a lively, wide-ranging discussion of Jack Fritscher's Some Dance to Remember: A Memoir-Novel of San Francisco, 1970-1982, at last week's meeting.

One of the recurring themes of the evening was whether the "real" gay community is any more cohesive than the author's rather pessimistic viewpoint would suggest. We didn't reach any real consensus on that point, partly because the novel's approach is so polemical--though that failing is perhaps inevitable given the fact that Ryan O'Hara, the exceedingly rigid, and troubled, advocate for "homomasculinism," is the central figure. He is definitely hard to root for, as are most of the characters, with the exceptions of Solly and Kweenie (Ryan's sister).

We all agreed, more or less, that Fritscher demonstrated commendable ambition, both in the sheer scope of the story and the philosophical, political and aesthetic issues he tackles; "sprawling" was a word several used. Alas, the quality of his writing was not quite up to the task. Even those like myself who enjoyed the book and would recommend it grew impatient at the author's tendency to repeat himself. For instance, was it REALLY necessary for Magnus to spell out over and over, in almost identical language, again Ryan's awareness that words often have two layers of meaning?! And as one member commented, there were so many journal entries that it appeared Fritscher had just dumped them into the story.

On a more positive note, even some of those who did not think the novel truly "worked" enjoyed Fritscher's descriptions of the place and time. And while we were all, to varying degrees, left disappointed, I would still call it a noble effort well worth reading. But I speak only for myself in that regard.

Note that the author himself has posted a comment on Walter's item about the origin of the title (scroll down).

Cheers, Steve

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