Sex, hypocrisy, solitude, loss, the punitive affinities that swallow the self—these are Gary Indiana’s themes, jingling through his books like money in Balzac. But rumbling beneath the malice is a melancholy yearning, a mind groping vulnerably for a human link.
“Affection is the mortal illness of lonely people,” declares the narrator of Horse Crazy, whose own loneliness will froth into a mania by the novel’s end. A writer in his thirties, he’s just been named the art critic for a magazine he dislikes. “A new year had begun with ominously good fortune,” pushing him deeper into the New York culture industry, a feudal world ruled by bloated personae and venal logic. The post is prestigious; he greets it with dread. Chained to his column, he will now be a minor celebrity and a downtown figure, “an object of envy, malice, and all the other base emotions that drive the majority of people at all times in every conceivable place and circumstance.” Risible, then, that he wants to be loved.
And Horse Crazy is, by the laxest possible definition, a book about love—about a psyche smashed by what it can’t help but want. The narrator—I’ll call him “the critic”—is infatuated with a younger man, a twenty-seven-year-old artist named Gregory Burgess. But their courtship is pricked by a wincing imbalance. The critic is “established,” and Gregory is not. Gregory is a former heroin addict who makes rent by waiting tables at a passé restaurant, an arrangement he sees as a kind of cosmic abuse. Philippe, his boss, is an erratic French freak who deals cocaine, terrorizes his staff, keeps a gun behind the counter, and has lascivious designs on Gregory (the burden, of course, of his sexual appeal). Read More