4 of 5 stars.
Hearing and accepting that Truth is Stranger Than Fiction is one thing–experiencing it as only Camden, London can dish it is a whole different matter. My own experience with Camden came in the years before the internet and cellular telephones. Homosexuality was still unprotected in most places, and gay marriage existed nowhere. Camden in London, The Village in NYC, Boystown [Lakeview] in Chicago, Montrose in Houston–these were refuges for young and old disaffected queer. Many people had been disowned by family. Suicides were endemic.
I was a teenaged queer wisp from rural Illinois/Iowa who’d never even been on a plane. My first flight was solo to London, and that night I was in Camden. And I was home. Amid street protests and purple-haired goddesses in layers of black gossamer. A Middle-Eastern dwarf on a crate spouting the most impressive chain of English swear words all hyphenated together while in a fight with an Afro-Caribbean giant, arms flapping like pennants, taunting the shorter man. I was no longer the freak among normals.
This tale laments the gentrification trend shuttering the great bohemian establishments of yesteryear. When a long time pub-refuge is chained up, a group of queer punk radicals take over the building against the objections of the owners to throw one last endless party:
Tattoos and bare flesh, wild eye make-up and hair extensions, clean-cut twinks and hairy bears, butch femmes and mohawked crusties–a riot of sexualities and modifications and bizarre, wondrous in-betweens and ambiguities. Male and female collapse into one another and back out the other side. The dance-floor is packed, heaving with bodies grinding and bouncing against one another in a sweaty, amorphous confusion, or effortlessly whirling around like protons and electrons blasted free from the bonds of physics.
This tale appears in the anthology An Unreliable Guide to London by Influx Press, London. I received my copy of this anthology directly from one of the contributing authors through bookreviewdirectory.wordpress.com.
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