Michael Pye, Ciberkiosk, 2001.
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I want to insist on this point, so I make it at the very start so we can get on with other things: like the excellence, the sharpness and the interest of Eduardo Pitta's impressive first fiction, Persona. But Pitta's stories concern men who fancy men, their networks, their meetings, their context, so they are presented as «gay» fiction and we are invited to consider a «gay» canon. This is said to be of historic interest in Portugal [...] What Pitta does, with economy and power, is exactly that: although we might prefer a more polite version, since his colonial soldiers have a lifestyle out of social columns and are not the petty thieves and turncoats of Genet's fantasy. You have to be Afonso for the duration, suspected at school in Mozambique of being a queer (and exploited by the doctor inquisitor who fancies a blowjob); finding possibilities in the unlikely context of the Kalahari; ending up not quite a political prisoner during the colonial wars, a soldier whose sexuality makes him either a security risk or just like all the other bichas in the barracks [...] This means that Pitta can write about queers, and men who fancy men, in a failing colony, without tumbling into the nonsense of associating homosexuality with some sort of imperial decadence (it was queers like Cecil Rhodes who built the British Empire, and no doubt there are queers like Cecil Rhodes waiting to be discovered among the founders of the Portuguese....). By transcending the simple subject of «being gay», Pitta finds his own particular subject and he's not answerable for any programmatic reading from some homophobic ignoramus [...] However, Pitta's Afonso is a reader. He goes out to buy John Rechy's book Numbers, recommends to his rugby-playing buddy Rechy's earlier book City of Night. Both approve the sense of ritual and choreography in Rechy's descriptions of the sexual hunt, are interested by the notion that a closeted homosexual is like a black who straightens his hair and tries to pass: which seems a little perverse [...] And I admire these stories of Eduardo Pitta, because they are about snobbery, travelling, the odd tensions of a failing colony, the end of an empire; and yet they are far more than their subject. They are also about the odd knowingness that comes to gay men quite young, because we can see the world has to be calculated into shape. But they are not propaganda or pornography or sociology or anthropology or history. They are fiction, good fiction, and welcome in themselves.