Paulyanna – International Rent-boy by Paul Douglas Lovell

paulyanna

This review was written in 2014, but I still stand by it. Find out more about Paul’s work at powerpuffgeezer.wordpress.com

REVIEW

try to avoid overused adjectives like poignant, heart-warming, life-affirming or compelling, but this book is all four. I have barely been able to put it down.

Put simply, it is the biography of a young gay man scraping a living on his back, finding punters on the streets of London in the 80’s and 90’s and partying hard in between. He is an alternative working class hero who makes no apology for his profession or his sexuality, who is painfully aware of his own vulnerability and foibles. This isn’t an erotic novel, but one that is an excruciatingly honest account of a life lived on a knife edge. Drugs, sex, AIDS and poverty are all recounted with a refreshingly perky style, punctuated by moving passages of great beauty.

At the same time as reading this, I have also been reading John Rechy’s City of Night, and whilst Paulyanna lacks the artistic tics of Rechy’s seminal novel, I would stick my neck out and say he gives the great man a run for his money. In fact, Lovell’s style is more engaging and readable, less intimidating. This is Rechy-lite, English style, and an important read for those who are gay and struggling with their identity or straight and curious.

For a self-published novel, this is one of the best I’ve read. Yes, the editing could have been crisper and some descriptive passages earlier on in the book could have been lost without detriment, but as a piece of social history, as well as a very personal story, it is one of the best I have read this year.

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