Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Rat Bohemia

I just finished re-reading Rat Bohemia, a Sarah Schulman novel I first read when it came out in the mid-nineties. It's such an excellent, eloquent novel. It centers on three gay characters who have found community in lower Manhattan, in spite of gentrification and other changes in the city. The community is precarious, in many ways because of the devastation of AIDS. But the sad core of the book is about abandonment, not community, particularly abandonment by parents, although that is not the only kind.

Another theme of the novel is nostalgia, which struck me because I felt so nostalgic re-reading this nearly 20 years later. I remember specifically where I was when I first read it. Literally, I remember not only the location of the apartment I lived in (West 111th Street), but the way I had the furniture configured in my room at the time. I remember the comforter I had when I first curled up with Rat Bohemia.

Anyway, decades later it's still such a strong and subtle, wonderful novel, with three distinct voices and terrific writing.

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