Gordon Merrick: ONE FOR THE GODS
I’m still ploughing my way through some of the gay ‘classics’. Originally published in 1971, this is the first of two sequels to The Lord Won’t Mind, Gordon Merrick’s ‘landmark’ novel about gay love and gay sex in postwar USA. Our hunky well-endowed heroes Charlie and Peter are on an extended holiday on the French Riviera. Charlie is heartbroken when Peter two-times him with a cute local lad. After this little hiccup they join their rich friends Jack and Martha for a cruise to Capri and the Greek islands. More hiccups.
The yacht trip begins with a night storm which is almost in the Herman Melville league. Then Charlie, who has bisexual tendencies, decides he wants to have a child with Martha. He also – spoiler alert – wants Peter to have sex with Martha, at which point the novel unravels into tawdry melodrama.
|Gordon Merrick 1916-88|
Rich people on a yacht drinking too much and screwing their brains out, there’s a faint echo of Scott Fitzgerald, although some of the writing – “his dark eyes were soft with desire” - is more evocative of Barbara Cartland than Fitzgerald. The sex scenes are hardcore without being too crude, but here too there are lapses: I’m not sure if Barbara Cartland ever described a blowjob (I’m trying not to picture her giving one!), but she could well have written “he lay back and surrendered to the rapture of Peter’s miraculous mouth.”
As gay porn One For the Gods delivers the goods, but as a study in gay relationships the story’s artificiality weakens its conviction. A ‘juicy’ read, then, but not much more.