The Dreaming by Andre Bagoo
At one level, Andre Bagoo’s stories have the very real virtue of taking the everyday lives of his gay Trinidadian characters utterly for granted in their searches for sex, adventure, pleasure, self-realisation and all the enrichments of loving contact. There’s a neat balance between a highly enjoyable sharpness of perception and a relaxed and engaging personal voice, and room for humour in several of these stories.
How is the poet ever going to disabuse his lover that his writing has any merit – especially when desire leads him to have a line of his lover’s dire poetry immortalised in a tattoo? Where is a style-conscious journalist going to find a barbershop that can do justice to his hair?
But the stories also record moments of self-denial, self-deception and fear that point to the fact that this is still a society where gay men experience prejudice, discrimination, and homophobic violence. The narrator of several of these stories is a writer who wants to focus on the personal satisfactions and inner dramas of these lives as the truth about gay experience. But at the back of his mind are the stories of the brutal murders of gay men reported with coy innuendo in the press. If he is tempted to see his lovers as characters in a witty novel of manners, is this a novel that can only take place somewhere other than in Trinidad? But since this is Trinidad, could the conflicted, self-hating Dorian really be a serial killer?
Bagoo’s stories offer a witty and acutely drawn portrait of contemporary Trinidad in all its intersections of race, class and gender politics. Not least, they share a strong sense of place – Bagoo’s gay Woodbrook offers a fine sequel to V.S. Naipaul’s Woodbrook stories in his classic Miguel Street.
Paperback / 190 pages