fiction by David Guy
My first encounter with this book was in '91 or '92, during a rough period of painfully bad love. The strong sexual theme was what first sparked my interest; what I found, rather than a mere disposable serving of smut, was a penetrating echo of the rage and hopelessness I was experiencing in my own life.
I had long figured the book was out-of-print, that I was the only one who "got it"... or that maybe I DIDN'T get it, that perhaps it really was just forgettable trash that coincidentally struck a chord in my twisted psyche. I had almost forgotten about it for years... but Sunday, browsing a used book store, it occurred to me: it's not likely, almost a decade later, but maybe there's a copy of Autobiography tucked away here?
Penguin's Plume imprint published a trade paperback reprint in 1995. The dialogue is often choppy and hollow, the exposition marches back and forth over three decades, and our narrator hero is pitiful and despicable at times. Vivid characterization and sensual (even raunchy) detail redeem it somewhat, but what really makes the book (for me) is the story.
On one hand, I suspect it says more about me than the value of the book, that I identify so strongly with Charles Bradford's quest for inner sexual peace. On the other hand, the ideals of sexual security and sexual license have raised an aching dissonance all through history, so most folks would at least sympathize as Bradford struggles with the needs of both his brains. Guy's rendition of this ancient conflict is both erotic and honest - and therefore, by necessity, painful as well.