I read Resentment by Gary Indiana when I finished my MPhil in 2001. I really enjoyed it and I vowed to read more of his stuff. So here I am, 12 years later, finally getting round to it by reading Rent Boy for the Eclectic Reader Challenge.
The narrator, Danny, is a rent boy, as you might expect but also a waiter and an architecture student. He also goes under a number of different names. Danny is the name he goes by in the series of letters that make up the novel. The narrative voice is very entertaining – Danny is intelligent and funny, both about his clients, the other rent boys he knows and the social situations he finds himself in .
As you might expect, there is a lot of sex in this book and a lot of it is quite explicit. It isn’t, however, all that sexy. Danny’s world is not a glamorous one and he does not spare the reader some of the seedier details.
When Danny gets involved with a scheme to rob rich people of the kidneys they are not using, you just know that things are not going to go well for him and fairly soon he is up to his neck in trouble and having to leave New York at an urgent pace.
In the end, he gives two possible endings to this scenario, both of which involve him on the run. It is difficult to say which is true. We also discover that Danny isn’t his real name either. The final lines of the novel are devastating and poignant. Danny says “I have no real name. I live where nothing has a name, and the rest is silence.” The person he is writing to is never revealed but it seems they are no wiser than the reader as to who Danny actually is.
I really enjoyed this. It was funny, full of biting social comment and gritty descriptions of the underbelly of New York. I’ll try and make it less than twelve years before I read another Gary Indiana novel.