on 12 April 2016
This book portrayed the 1970s New York's very visible gay community in a time before AIDS. The novel's portrayal of promiscuous sex and recreational drug use provoked controversy, not least amongst gay men.
The main character, Fred Lemish, is loosely modeled on the author. He wants to find a loving, long-term relationship but his desires are frustrated as he stumbles through an emotionally cold series of glory holes, bathhouses, BDSM encounters and group sex. He becomes disillusioned with the 1970s "fast lane" lifestyle dominating the gay subculture in and around New York.
Lemish also expresses discomfort with the widespread use of multiple street and prescription drugs helping to maintain the party atmosphere. Faggots details the use of over two dozen 1970s party drugs and intoxicants such as poppers, LSD, Quaaludes, alcohol, marijuana, PCP, cocaine and heroin.
Locales include Fire Island, a gay bathhouse called the "Everhard" (based on the Everard Baths, and a club called the Toilet Bowl.
Its fans see social critiques embedded in a Rabelaisian vulgarity while the other side might agree with critic Don Shewey’s claim that “Kramer’s clunky, careless writing ultimately renders Faggots unreadable….. “creates too many characters and gives them farcical names (Randy Dildough, Dordogna del Donga, and Miss Youtha Truth)… so you don’t take them seriously; but then he keeps bringing them back and asking you to care about them when you can’t even remember who they are.”
It has been in print since its original publication in 1978 but the author, post the advent of AIDS has recanted what was originally his celebration of casual sex. Then again, there’s a moral in the novel itself: the protagonist comes to the conclusion at the end of a weekend of high living that having so much sex makes finding love impossible.
on 4 June 2013
I have to start by stating that I didn't finish this novel, but that what I read I enjoyed immensely. The reason I didn't finish was that it is far too American for me - all the popular culture references are American, particularly New Yorky, as well as belonging to the late seventies - not a world I know or recognise, but also one I wasn't particularly invited to enter. Therefore, it's a great time capsule, and, I imagine, beautifully captures a pre AIDS heaven for gay men in seventies America, a time when to be gay was fabulously dangerously exciting. Oh how times have changed! I loved what I read, and would recommend it to you darlings, but there was too much I just didn't get. But if you like to be completely shocked - and I was, sexually excited - and I was, and overwhelmed, which I ultimately was, it's the novel for you. I just never did have enough stamina!