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[59] Dancer From The Dance – Andrew Holleran

In a voice that is as close to laughter as to tears, but retaining the sobriety and equanimity, an omnipresent narrator tells the story of Malone, a handsome young man who searches wholeheartedly for the love of his life. Interwoven with the prose are vivid visions of society in the 1970s, of the emerging gay New York, and historical landmarks. Despite his not knowing Malone personally, the narrator paints a picture that does justice of Malone and his sentimentality. They were hardly friends, the presence of whom maybe no more than an exchange of nod at the bar and in Fire Island–something that did not even qualify as an acquaintance. But the narrative poignantly captures Malone’s innocent heart, his turning sentimental over a lasting relationship, and his inexhaustible desire to be liked. His elegance and gentility–the courtesy with which he navigated the bar crowd of an oblivious brusqueness appeals to the narrator, making an impression so deep that to the observer he was the center of the scene, the ultimate symbol of gay life. Overwhelmed by a loneliness that haunts him, Malone is ashamed of being alone and is resolved to not live alone forever, or without love.

What hits me the most (and that is the one thing that tugs so snuggly in my heart) is that Malone is very melodramatic, sentimental, and clinging on to temperament. He surely lives (and suffers) for love more than others. Whether he finds the love of his life or not, his determination renders his living life to the full. The novel, after all, can be viewed as a bittersweet journey to self-enlightenment: He struggled to come out of the closet. He quit a career in law to pursue with passion the one thing that had eluded him utterly–love. He never gave up on finding the true love that would connect to the depth of his soul. The whole allure of this love of his should be isolated from the mob, that is, love banished from the public and spared from any social opinions and norms. Then it dawned on him that what he had been going after was no more than chasing after the wind. He becomes tired of going to bed with people and being just the same afterward as he was before. He started to doubted about love as if love was just a myth, a deception. He could no longer deal with people in that way, the way that used to thrill him (the beauty of the body, the lust, the communication of lips and flesh), and which now, as he was growing older, repelled him starkly and failed to mitigate that depression. How could all these men live with such insincerity and meaningless sex?

Dancer From The Dance is one of the most important works of gay literature because it embraces, one way or another, every gay man’s walk to self-discovery. Hilarious, witty, and heartbreaking, it accommodates all the fear, the doubt, the frustration, the anxiety, and the qualm of finding true love in a cruel sea of humanity. The novel exudes an air of melancholy that speaks the truth of the minds of many of us: Are we going to find that special someone? It also replenishes hope that we should be approaching relationship with an open mind and open heart–to look for someone who is in accord with our values.

One Response

  1. Unrelated, LOL @ your comment!

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