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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Savage Nights by Cyril Collard 
29th-Mar-2006 11:59 pm
So...what is he if he sleeps with a girl on a regular basis but calls himself gay? :P

Collard, Cyril. Savage Nights. Trans. William Rodarmor. New York: Overlook, 1994. (First French Edition: 1989)
Summary: Originally entitled Les Nuits Fauves. Gay filmmaker Jean is HIV-positive but continues to practice a highly promiscuous lifestyle; he has a taste for Arab boys. However, this doesn't stop him from getting involved with the teenager Laura and having unprotected sex with her. Laura falls in love with Jean, and when she finds out the former two facts, she tells him he gave her AIDS and stalks him like mad. In the end, though, she recovers a measure of sanity, and Jean is able to have both Laura and his "savage nights."
Comments: This novel recapitulates Nightwood's theme of interlocking (gay) sex, death, degradation, and the night--adding the modern frisson of AIDS and race to the mix, and reading it is like crawling into a male analogue of Robin's head. The resolution, however, is different, and Jean is able to balance the light (normality, heterosexuality, etc.) and the dark (homosexuality, masochism, promiscuity, etc.) in his life and find a measure of reconciliation, even if he's still "fated" to die an untimely death. There's some sense in the novel that Collard views AIDS as a just punishment for a promiscuous lifestyle; the attitude by the end is that one must eat the cake one has taken, which may be a coping mechanism on the author's part. Also, the ethnic and socio-economic, especially Muslim fundamentalist/Algerian immigrant-related, tension in France provides a magnificent, dark backdrop for the story (Paris at night's a scary place!)--EVERYONE is somehow abased, and Jean is masochistic to boot. (No surprise that he shacks up with a closet sadist.) Laura's whiny messages that comprise the bulk of the middle were unnecessary and irritating, and the ending felt a bit too pat for me, but the beginning is especially magnificent, and there are several fascinating ideas here that merit more formal, analytical writeup.
Notes: hardcover, 1st American edition, out-of-print; trade paperback edition available
Rating: 7.5/10 - Highly controversial because it is to some extent autobiographical and because the HIV-positive protagonist behaves irresponsibly...but still quite worthwhile from a purely literary perspective.
1st-Apr-2006 01:24 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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