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Indiana, Gary (b. 1950)  
 
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The prolific and pseudonymous writer Gary Indiana is the author of numerous nonfiction prose pieces, several plays, two short story collections, and seven novels, notably a three-volume series based on real-life crimes that explores the way victims and criminals alike are often distorted and exploited by the mass media.

As a social commentator and critic of popular culture, Indiana has been described by reviewers as acidic, unstinting, scathing, and vitriolic. Indiana himself revealed in an interview, "My tendency as a writer is to amplify the negative."

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Biography and Early Career

Born Gary Hoisington in Derry, New Hampshire in 1950, the writer attended the University of California, Berkeley in the late 1960s, but left without graduating. He then moved to Los Angeles, where, in his early twenties, he changed his name to Gary Indiana and began his career writing for underground and alternative publications.

Indiana remained in Los Angeles until the late 1970s, when he moved to New York. He wrote, directed, and acted in plays, including Alligator Girls Go to College (1979) and The Roman Polanski Story (1982), which were produced in small New York City venues such as the Mudd Club. Another play, Roy Cohn/Jack Smith, was later filmed by Jill Godmillow in 1994.

From 1979 to 1985, Indiana also appeared as an actor in experimental European films directed by Dieter Schidor, Ulrike Ottinger, and others.

Essays

Indiana has been a prolific essayist, covering a variety of topics, including art, literature, film, politics, and the media.

Beginning in the early 1980s, despite a lack of formal education in art theory or practice, Indiana launched his name in art writing with the publication of several well-regarded essays on mid-century art in the magazines Artforum and Art in America.

These publications led to a three-year tenure as the art critic for the New York City alternative weekly newspaper the Village Voice, a position he held from 1985 to 1988. His lucid prose style, along with a distinct interest in the commercial and social context of art, set his work apart from much of the art writing of the period.

After leaving the Village Voice, Indiana mainly concentrated on his fictional work, but has occasionally returned to journalism, contributing articles to such periodicals as Details, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, and the London Review of Books.

A collection of his nonfiction prose, Let It Bleed: Essays, 1985-1995, was published in 1996. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly called the collection "funny, smart, mean, self-examined," and noted that "Indiana's vicious descriptions are on the mark."

He has also written essays for photographer Aura Rosenberg's Head Shots (1996), artist Nancy Chunn's Front Pages catalogue (1997), and for the exhibition catalogues of Roberto Juarez, Barbara Kruger, and Christopher Wool.

Early Fiction

Indiana's first published book was the story collection, Scar Tissue and Other Stories (1987). This was followed a year later by a book of three short stories, White Trash Boulevard (1988).

His debut novel, Horse Crazy (1989), is a formally inventive account of obsessive love set in the early years of the AIDS crisis. The narrator, a nameless art critic for a New York newsweekly, becomes self-destructively infatuated with a handsome, though deeply manipulative, younger man who also happens to be a heroin addict. In its review, the Advocate noted that the novel "chronicles the sexual and emotional obsessions that play havoc with--as well as give meaning to--our lives."

Indiana followed that novel with Gone Tomorrow (1993), constructed as two linked novellas told in a self-consciously cinematic style by a narrator who reminisces about a gay German filmmaker who has just died as the novel opens. "Death, violence, hedonism--and their physical and psychological consequences--are Gary Indiana's ambitious themes," observed a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement.

A year later his third novel, Rent Boy (1994), was published. This brief but offbeat and darkly comic novel concerns the hectic days and nights of a 25-year-old male prostitute, architecture student, and part-time waiter who finds himself implicated in a plot to steal human organs for transplanting. Although one of the more critically dismissed of Indiana's works, the novel was described by a reviewer for Kirkus Reviews as "a diverting tour: the eye is sharp, the style is loose, and the sex is notably well-written."

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