Christoper - A Tale of Seduction: Allison Burnett
A middle-aged, unattractive, erudite, bitchy, loudly effete man, B. K. Troop, decides to seduce his twenty-five year old neighbour, Christopher.
Christopher is straight and an aspiring writer, coming out of a painful break-up of his marriage and trying to escape his domineering mother.
This book is funny in places, and it raised the occasional smile, but it wouldn’t be my choice for a read.
The novel is about Christopher’s self-discovery, and nothing to do with any gay themes. B. K. Troop could have easily been an older woman; the effect would have been exactly the same.
Amusing in parts, not unreadable by any means, just not my cup of tea.
It’s 1984. We’re in New York City. Another tale of urban gay life except it’s not.
BK Troop the narrator is 47, ugly and cynical, a bit of a cad. When he moves into a new apartment he meets Christopher Ireland, the young and pretty boy-next-door. Christopher is licking his wounds following a broken marriage. BK sets out to seduce him. That the boy proves to be straight only adds spice to the challenge. It’s something of an area of expertise.
As I read the novel I was reminded of a substandard “Dangerous Liaisons”, removing the suspense and eroticism that made that story so wickedly compulsive (and sexy!). BK is no Valmont. More’s the pity.
I think it simply tries too hard to be witty and clever. The result is tiresome, eventually annoying, ultimately a turn-off.
BK thinks he can trap Christopher, get him into his bed. Predictably it’s loathsome BK who ends up ensnared…obsessed…overcome by his desire to comfort and protect…in love. Pass the sick bucket, please.
Christopher remains oblivious, as BK resorts to ever more desperate measures, even pretending to have cancer to gain sympathy.
So, no romance.
There’s a certain poignancy. That’s the nicest thing I can find to say.
Unfortunately I just didn’t care. The whole thing wasn’t real. I suppose it was well written, but it wasn’t the book I wanted to read. I’ve no idea why it appears on lists of gay fiction. Its appeal would appear to lie more in the mainstream.
Christopher doesn’t seem to notice BK is gay and coming on to him. He’s depressed and sex isn’t on his mind. Which makes for a big hole where the slash should be. It’s comical really, as Christopher turns to anyone/anything other than BK in an attempt to raise his spirits (that’s all that gets a lift). BK is so obnoxious it’s hardly difficult to see why. Christopher could be playing his own game. We only have BK’s POV. That would’ve made an interesting twist.
I finished the novel dutifully. It left me thinking, ‘So what?’ By creating a literary monster the author alienated this reader. BK emerges suitably chastened. Christopher remains resolutely straight. If you ask me, however, he just hasn’t met the right man. That boy had potential. I wouldn’t go out of my way to read this book. Plenty more that are far better.
Published by Broadway Books. ISBN: 0767913337
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