by David Leddick
Published by St. Martin’s Press
Published November 1996
259 pgs. • Find on Amazon.com
Reviewed by Stephen O. Murray
November 17, 1999.
Hugo, the narrator of David Leddick’s novel My Worst Date, has some of Vidal’s sang-froid but is very romantic. (In sexual relations, Hugo’s boyfriend Glenn is much closer to Vidal’s style.)
For someone supposedly born in 1970, Hugo also seems to share Vidal’s familiarity with Hollywood stars of the 1940s (Bette Davis is one thing, but Betty Grable, Ray Milland, and Miriam Hopkins? Then, when they get a voice for a chapter, each of his supposed age-mates alludes to Dorothy Lamour and Donna Reed, yet Hugo is not familiar with Robert Taylor???)
I can accept a sixteen-year-old Miami Beach student of such knowingness about relationships and far from innocent about sex, but when does he find time to read Muriel Spark, Jean Rhys, and M. F. K. Fisher and to familiarize himself with ’40s Hollywood stars?
But it is entertaining, and one can admire his relationships with his mother and his age mates…and at least understand his amour, Gregg. And there are plenty of acute, well-phrased observations. To take one example, the American basis for same-sex association: “You don’t like yourself but you think you could be happy with someone just like yourself” (39). Vidal raises this question about the commonalties of homosexuality (Roy Cohn and Eleanor Roosevelt were the pair he mentioned, in contrast with the pair of Bertrand Russell and Lyndon Johnson).
It has a more satisfying (though still open) ending than the stories I’ve been reading in Men on Men 5. The latter seem all voice, no resolution, and no plot. My Worst Date has plenty of plot, though I can suspend disbelief to swallow it, as well as the early wisdom of Hugo. In my observation there is practically no correlation between age and knowing how to handle sex. Hugo doesn’t have it all figured out either but is not entirely hormone-driven.
17 November 1999
©1999, 2016, by Stephen O. Murray
Leddick’s other book covers (mostly male photograph books) can be seen at www.davidleddick.net