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literature

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Gale, Patrick (b. 1962)  
 
page: 1  2  

In The Aerodynamics of Pork, he parallels the lives of Seth Peake (whose death is mentioned in a later novel) and Maude Faith by contrasting gender, age, talent, and quest for a satisfactory same-sex relationship. (Gale wrote this novel on the back of order pads while he was working as a waiter.)

In Kansas in August, a brother and sister are in love with and having affairs with the same man, laying bare the psychological complexities of sex and love and the tensions between heterosexual and homosexual loves. Gale uses the same device in The Cat Sanctuary, Rough Music (2000), Little Bits of Baby, A Sweet Obscurity, and Friendly Fire.

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With multiple plots, a provocative title, a framing epigraph from a relevant author, and a gay or lesbian character, Gale creates a novel with a reader-friendly narrator, a realistic focus, and a complex analysis of human relationships.

Between The Cat Sanctuary and The Facts of Life something changed in Gale's novels: they acquired amplitude in length and depth, which allowed a fuller, deeper exploration of characters, situations, settings and themes; also they became darker in their thematic implications, and some characters become more intentionally destructive.

The early novels had their share of darkness--the serial murders in The Aerodynamics of Pork, the pilot deliberately crashing his small plane in Ease, the violent mugging in Kansas in August, the several deaths and feral destructiveness in Facing the Tank; however, they offer hope in establishing promising relationships, escaping a dysfunctional family, and, at the very end of Little Bits of Baby, a triumphant same-sex nationally televised kiss.

There is even laughter in Facing the Tank when Fergus Gibson's mother has to be buried in a specially altered coffin because the morticians could not release her hold on the pipes she ripped from a bathroom wall or when the groom's parents meet the very wealthy, very black Jamaican parents of their son's fiancée.

Rough Music, Tree Surgery for Beginners (1998), The Facts of Life, Sweet Obscurity, Friendly Fire, and Notes from an Exhibition solidify and develop Gale's commitment to the "great tradition" of English realism. They foreground family sagas, become more concerned with the ways past impinges on present, maintain Gale's transparent style, develop powerful narrative presence, and probe more deeply the acts of charity and aggression within relationships.

The comic scenes lessen, the violent scenes acquire symbolic force, and triumphs are won at greater expense than in the early novels. The protagonists become more embedded in creative activities--a novelist, a photographer, a professional countertenor, a composer, a painter.

The Facts of Life powerfully details a young man's descent into the nightmare of AIDS infections, leading to a death that connects him to his grandparents' generation. We see his collapse through the eyes of his disapproving grandfather, a famous composer also known for his affair with a famous film star, his mother, his devoted sister, and the man loved by him and his sister.

In Friendly Fire, Sophie, an orphan, witnesses the destruction of a schoolmaster brought down by the rivalries of her two close friends. Friendly Fire is a very traditionally realized novel; however in The Facts of Life and Notes from an Exhibition, Gale plays with his narratives by rearranging the chronology, to show the reader just how powerful an impact the past has on the present.

Throughout the twelve novels and the short stories in Dangerous Pleasures (which form an excellent introduction to Gale's style, characters, and issues), Gale addresses the themes frankly and directly, delineates his characters, especially his gay men and lesbians, honestly and fully, and never veers from his narrative drive, which keeps a reader wanting to read further.

Gale is still a relatively young man, and an amazingly prolific one, so his audience should watch closely for his next ten or so novels.

David Leon Higdon

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    Bibliography
   

Gale, Patrick. The Aerodynamics of Pork. London: Abacus, 1986.

_____. The Cat Sanctuary. London: Chatto & Windus, 1990.

_____. Dangerous Pleasures. London: Flamingo, 1996.

_____. Ease. London: Abacus, 1986.

_____. Facing the Tank. London: Hutchinson, 1988.

_____. The Facts of Life. London: Flamingo, 1995.

_____. Friendly Fire. London: Fourth Estate, 2005.

_____. Kansas in August. London: Century, 1987.

_____. Little Bits of Baby. London: Chatto & Windus, 1989.

_____. Notes from an Exhibition. London: Fourth Estate, 2007.

_____. Rough Music. London: HarperCollins, 2000.

_____. A Sweet Obscurity. London: Flamingo, 2003.

_____. Tree Surgery for Beginners. London: Flamingo, 1998.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Higdon, David Leon  
    Entry Title: Gale, Patrick  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2008  
    Date Last Updated September 15, 2008  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/gale_patrick.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2008 glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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