Sean Meriwether's Reviews > Tim and Pete

Tim and Pete by James Robert Baker
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Tim and Pete is a testament of what it was like to live as a gay man during the AIDS crisis, before effective treatment was available to those with insurance. Back when a diagnoses was a death sentence. A generation of mostly gay men were sick and dying with no cure in sight. In the U.S. the Reagan and Bush administrations, with the vocal support of Republicans, took no action to stop the plague because the “right kind of people” were dying (gay men, Haitians, and drug users). The religious right claimed it was their god’s punishment against the heathens. ACT UP was a vigilante group battling against discrimination, for accelerated drug treatments from the FDA, and literally fighting for their lives. They were living a war that no one else acknowledged. There was a lot of fear and justifiable anger. This is the world I came of age in when I moved to NY in 1989.

This book is about that era of rage…

Tim is an emotionally conservative film archivist, Pete is a radical fronting an all gay alternative rock band. They dated for six months and have been broken up for a year when they bump into each other as the novel starts, but the wounds are still raw. Over the course of a frenetic evening, they rehash their relationship, state (and restate and restate) various political points, discuss sex, drugs and rock and roll, and tour various neighborhoods of 1990s L.A., which will appeal to people of a certain age who lived there in the years before the riots. There is anger, a lot of it, where decapitating public officials as political performance art is a running macabre joke. All of this gets buried under a landslide of dialogue that frequently does not advance the story but does maintain a level of anger that becomes exhausting. The novel is littered with dozens of ideas for songs, artwork, and activism, which are often touched upon and never developed. I admire Baker for putting two non-mainstream (albeit cisgender and white) gays at the center of this tumultuous and increasingly surrealistic (and exasperating) novel, and for reminding me of this decade of fear, guilt and rage of that era.
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Reading Progress

September 28, 2019 – Shelved
January 21, 2020 – Started Reading
January 21, 2020 – Shelved as: lgtbq
February 11, 2020 – Finished Reading

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