rWiq78 GAY AUSTIN II
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 10
AT FIRST JABEZ IS PORTRAYED as something of a
freak. "It (Jabez) stood like a statue, its hair
swinging forward to cloak its face, the straining
cloth of its clothes tracing lines of such tenderness that the teacher felt the powerful attraction
of androgyny, like a self-memory." It also happens,
conveniently, that Jabez bears resemblance to his
sister Ludie, about whom Jim had entertained lustful thoughts prior to his marriage.
But as the narrative porgresses and Jabez's character is more clearly defined, the sexual ambiguity
dissipates. "Deliberately he showed his front as
well as his back to Jim, to let Jim know that he
was not a freak, something half man, half woman."
Later, "It was Jabez who woke Jim by slapping his
erect cock against Jim's face. When Jim came fully
to, it was to see a large male organ poised over
his mouth." At the novel's end the "old" Jabez is
dead; and when the new Jabez "thought of corn-
holing Jim a real brutal manhood stirred in him."
THE NOVEL'S ACTION, THEN, progresses from heterosexual tension to androgynous tension to homosexual tension. If Sorrentino is correct in saying TOO MUCH FLESH AND JABEZ is not "about" homosexuality, I find this progression odd. Miss
Ethel's novel lapses at times into outright polemics in defense of male homosexuality. For example,
"from that very satisfactory spout could come the
evidence of his joy, a gift for Jim that he would
come to see as a lot better than the secretive and
unprovable satisfaction that a woman had to offer
or conceal." In wrestling with guilt after sex with
Jabez, Jim reviews tiie pros and concludes, "he
could not sec the perversion as amounting to a
hill of beans in the bigger scheme, except in the
legal sense, and he had never had much respect for
Then as surely as if "she we're Mary Renault, Miss
Ethel writes of a time when Jim and Jabez might ex-
cape and rest "beside seas upon which Greek lovers
in pairs had gazed ..." And here (the novel having ended inconclusively, the reunion of Jim and
Jabez implied but not consummated), Miss Ethel embraces more strongly than before the fantasy that
she can become Jabez and go to Greece with Jim:
"the two of us, together in Greece?"
As HER FINAL ACTION, Miss Ethel asks the real Jim
Cummins to read TOO MUCH FLESH AND JABEZ. "He read
the book as a confession: that she could have been
the woman for him, or the boy, if that was the way
he tended." Why must we conclude with Sorrentino
that the importance of one theme (loneliness) reduces another theme (homosexual love) to the rank
of a mere plot element? Sorrentino, you see, argues
that the real theme is Miss Ethel's "desperate attempt to come to terms with her own loneliness, her
desolation of spirit." With at least equal justice
we could reverse his argument and maintain that the
loneliness motif and heterosexual trappings of the
novel's framework arc there to provide a socially
acceptable pretext--and context--for a vindication
of homosexual attachment.
But I trust it's not necessary to conceive a distorted interpretation of a novel in order to review
it in GAY AUSTIN.
\ Clllb AUStin 308 W. 16th Street 476-7986
WICES OF THE YOUNG
We watch on TV the jobs we'll never have.
We see the images of lovers we'll never have.
Hey, boys, stop osculating in the corner.
Come over here and watch this.
See those straight freaks?
They're not like us.
They get residuals for being in commercials.
We get minimum wages or unemployment comp.
I'd rather be on TV than work
You know you're not wanted there.
You know there'e not room for you.
So what are you waiting for?
They can't use you. They don't need you.
Come join me in a spectacular little celebration.
We're gonna rock the top off this old town.
I never knew it could feel so good
To bust loose, to kick ass, to go smashing.
That'll get us on TV I bet.
706 E.6th Street