Sutherland, the voice of the aesthetic arbitrator, in Andrew Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance reminds me at times in some of his baroque formulations of the passage in Edmund White’s Forgetting Elena about the possible permutations of the pronunciations of “dah-ling”. Here is an excerpt from a stupendous soliloquy invoking a particular right of passage.
He squeezed his hand and smiled. “There are three lies in life,” Sutherland said to his young companion, whose first night this was in the realm of homosexuality and whose introduction to it Sutherland had taken upon himself to supervise. “One, the check is in the mail. Two, I will not come in your mouth. And three, all Puerto Ricans have big cocks,” he said. And with that he leaned forward and cupped the young man’s hand in his long black gloves and said to him in that low, breathless voice: “You are beginning a journey, far more bizarre than any excursion up the Nile. You have set foot tonight on a vast, uncharted continent. Do let me take you as far as I can. I shall hold your hand as far as we can go together, and point out to you the more interesting flora and fauna. I will help you avoid the quicksand in which you can drown, or at least waste a great deal of time, the thorn-thickets, the false vistas — ah,” he sighed. “We have many of those, we have much trompe l’oeil in this very room!” he said ecstatically, cocking his cigarette holder at a sprightly angle. “So let us go upriver together as far as we may,” he resumed, once more cupping his charge’s white, slim hand, “and remember to ask questions, and notice everything, the orchids and the fruit flies, the children rummaging for food in piles of shit, and the ibis that flies across the moon at dusk. Let us go at least as far as the falls. What a journey! If only I can help you avoid the detours, culs-de-sac, fevers, and false raptures that I have suffered.” He squeezed the fellow’s hand and said, echoing the signal phrase of a Bar Mitzvah he had once attended in the guise of a Jewish matron from Flatbush: “For tonight, my dear, you are a homosexual!”
Glorious use of register. Fabulous initiation.
And so for day 665