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literature

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Cameron, Peter (b. 1959)  
 
page: 1  2  

A feature film based on the novel, written and directed by Brian Skeet, was released in 1999.

Although gay and bisexual characters appear in Cameron's next two novels, Andorra (1997) and The City of Your Final Destination (2002), they are subordinate, though indispensable, to the central stories, which focus on the intrigues of heterosexual men.

Sponsor Message.

Cameron has spoken of the crisis of conscience he faces as a gay man writing about a diversity of characters and experiences: "[W]ith Andorra, I started thinking: 'Maybe he should be gay, the main character.' I kept thinking: 'I'm a gay man.' I kept going back and thinking about it: "Maybe he is gay, or should be gay. Or there should be more homosexuals in the book.' Then I just thought: 'No. It's like having children. I don't think you should try to dictate the sexuality of your children, and I don't think you should try and dictate the sexuality of your characters.' He wasn't gay. There was nothing I could do about it."

Andorra concerns Alexander Fox, who, after the sudden deaths of his wife and young child, flees the United States and forges a new life abroad, hoping to leave his memories and his past behind. Fox settles in Andorra, a country he had once read about in a novel (referring to Rose Macaulay's Crewe Train [1926]), although as one of Cameron's characters explains, Macaulay never visited Andorra and her portrait of the country is "very inaccurate."

Cameron's portrait of Andorra is also, purposely, inaccurate; a land-locked country high in the Pyrenees in reality, Andorra is artfully re-imagined as a sun-dappled seaport with lush beaches in the novel. Cameron has stated that he prefers to use his imagination to make up the world of his novels rather than conduct research to get the facts right. He has admitted to being comfortable making mistakes, and feels that if he gets the emotional life of a book right readers will allow him to get the physical world of the book wrong.

While in Andorra, Fox becomes enmeshed in the schemes and conspiracies of several locals and drifts into simultaneous affairs with two women, one of whom is married and whose sexually-ambivalent husband is also attracted to him. These events become strangely reminiscent of Fox's recent past, and the novel skillfully twists into a contemplation of the persistence of memory and the power of imagination.

The City of Your Final Destination, Cameron's most accomplished novel to date, is set mainly in another cleverly re-imagined country--Uruguay--and, again, concerns a character compelled to embark on a life-altering journey.

Omar Razaghi (born in Iran, reared in Canada, and now a doctoral student at the University of Kansas) receives a grant from his university to write the authorized biography of the Latin American author Jules Gund, who had published one novel, to critical acclaim, and then, as one character acerbically states, "spent twenty miserable years trying to do it again, and failing over and over," before finally killing himself.

Initially denied authorization from Gund's literary executors (comprised of Gund's widow Caroline, his mistress Arden, and his brother Adam) to write the biography, Omar makes an unannounced visit to Uruguay hoping to change their minds. Caroline is mostly indifferent to the endeavor, while Arden does not believe in biographies, especially those of artists and writers; she believes "their work should speak for itself." In opposition to the two women, Adam, although he thinks biographers are "clever, vindictive, ruthless people," is in favor of the biography, believing it will likely help to revive his brother's fading reputation and, thereby, increase sales of his novel.

Adam Gund is one of Cameron's supreme inventions. Opinionated, caustic, and droll, expressing himself in the epigrammatic manner of a Wildean aesthete, Adam is an elderly gay man living out his final years in Uruguay with his much younger Thai boyfriend, Pete. Adam laments that a biography of his brother's life, complete with wives and mistresses, sounds hopelessly nineteenth century, while his life, as a homosexual with an ex-prostitute lover he has legally adopted as his son, is more postmodern, and, therefore, infinitely more remarkable.

The City of Your Final Destination begins as a study of the difference between a biography and a life and deepens into a meditation on the random nature of love and the ways in which people confront or avoid life's choices.

Cameron counts among his strongest influences the domestic novels of British women writers such as Rose Macaulay, Barbara Pym, Penelope Mortimer, and Elizabeth Taylor. He admires these writers for their elegant command of language, astute understanding of human nature, and perceptive view of the world, qualities that he strives for in his own work.

Cameron lives in Greenwich Village, New York.

Craig Kaczorowski

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    Bibliography
   

Bahr, David. "Yes, Uruguay." Publishers Weekly 249 (May 13, 2002): 47.

Budhos, Marina. "The Season of Their Discontent." Los Angeles Times (May 19, 2002): R7.

Burg, Victor Kantor. "Between Jumping and Diving." New York Times Book Review (June 22, 1986): 11.

Canning, Richard. Hear Us Out: Conversations with Gay Novelists. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Eder, Richard. "Finding New Lives in a Writer's Death." New York Times (May 15, 2002): E8.

Gambone, Philip. Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1999.

Greenlaw, Lavinia. "Jules and Him." New York Times Book Review (May 19, 2002): 14.

Kakutani, Michiko. "The Lives of New Yorkers, Uptown and Down." New York Times (February 16, 1990): C88.

Lehmann, Chris. "The Sting of Fate." The Washington Post (May 28, 2002): C3.

Livesey, Margot. "The Past Is Another Country." New York Times (December 29, 1996): 7.8.

Pall, Ellen. "Yuppie Love." New York Times Book Review (February 25, 1990): 10.

Robinson, Roxana. "Uninhabited Selves." New York Times Book Review (September 29, 1991): 19.

www.peter-cameron.com.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Kaczorowski, Craig  
    Entry Title: Cameron, Peter  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 16, 2004  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/cameron_p.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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