Tim and Pete

Last updated
Tim and Pete
Tim and Pete.jpg
First edition
Author James Robert Baker
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
SubjectGay love, drug use, AIDS activism, homophobia, radical gay terrorism
GenreGay romantic suspense thriller
Publisher Simon & Schuster (1993), [1] Penguin Books (1994), [2] Ringpull (1995), [3] Fourth Estate (1996), [4] Alyson Books (2001) [5] [6]
Publication date
1993
Media typePrint (Paperback)
Pages256
ISBN 978-0-671-79184-1
Preceded byBoy Wonder (novel) 
Followed byRight Wing (1996, only published on the Internet) 

Tim and Pete is the third novel written by James Robert Baker (1946–1997), an American author of sharply satirical, predominantly gay-themed transgender fiction. [7] [8] [9] A native Californian, his work is set almost entirely in Southern California. After graduating from UCLA, he began his career as a screenwriter, but became disillusioned and started writing novels instead. [10] Though he garnered fame for his books Fuel-Injected Dreams and Boy Wonder, after the controversy surrounding publication of his novel, Tim and Pete, he faced increasing difficulty having his work published. [11] According to his boyfriend, this was a contributing factor in his suicide. Baker's work has achieved cult status in the years since his death, and two additional novels have been posthumously published. [12] [13] As of 2006, first editions of Adrenaline, Boy Wonder, Fuel-Injected Dreams and Tim and Pete have become collector's items and command high prices at rare book stores. [14] [15] First-edition copies of his earlier works have become collector's items.

Contents

Adrenaline was published in 1985 under the pseudonym James Dillinger. [16] A story of two gay fugitive lovers on the run, it presaged the satire and drug fueled violence so prominent in his later books. [17] Here Baker began developing the themes that dominated his following works: anarchy; angry and somewhat paranoid gay men; the dark underside of Los Angeles, juxtaposed with its sunny outward image; [18] the hypocrisy of organized religion; anonymous sex and its implications in the age of AIDS; and homophobia and the oppression of gays in a Republican dominated America. [19] [20] Its plot device of underdog characters forced into flight due to circumstances beyond their control was one Baker explored in all of his subsequent work. James noted "Baker had many issues with the world at large, homophobic cops and preachers along with closeted Hollywood moguls, in particular, and he was able to find satisfaction in his novels that he could not find in real life" stemming from "pent up anger at the homophobic America at elected Ronald Reagan twice and sat by clucking their teeth while so many gay men died of AIDS." [21] Gay Community News noted "he has an eye for the absurd, the quixotic, and the downright existential in pop culture". [6]

Plot overview

Two former gay lovers, Pete, and the narrator of the novel Tim, are reunited when Tim needs a ride back to Los Angeles. [22] They go on a surreal adventure over the next day-and-a-half, most of it in cars, with memories of the last twenty years, including tea rooms and bathhouses, increasingly enraging them at the AIDS pandemic destruction. [22] [23] [24] Sleep deprived, using gallows humor and self-medicating with mescaline-spiked drinks they travel through an increasingly hostile environment meeting a bizarre and queer cast of supporting characters who fuel undercurrent rage at society's homophobia and the LGBT community's apathy. [25] [26] They meet an occult-obsessed indie filmmaker, leather-dykes, [27] a Southern belle drag queen and then four anarchistic gays who are HIV-positive. [25] The quartet reflect the hopelessness felt as their friends die and the country does little to counteract a "gay" disease. [24] [28] They hope to win the cultural war by assassinating ex-President Ronald Reagan, who did little for the first four years of growing HIV-AIDS epidemic, [29] by bombing him at a church service. [30] Tim and Pete convince the plotters to change targets to a meeting of the American Family Association, a group known for its anti-LGBT rhetoric that led to the failed response to AIDS, where there would be fewer "innocent" victims. [31]

Critical reception

Tim and Pete was met with hostile reviews, primarily for its advocacy of political assassination and terror tactics in combating AIDS discrimination. Baker himself was ambivalent on the subject. "I think assassination does change things ... But I'm not really calling for violence," he said. "It's a novel, not a position paper." [32] In a 1993 interview, however, Baker stated:

I think a strong case can be made that political assassination actually does change things. If you look at the assassinations in this country in the 1960s you can certainly see how it affected history in a very profound way. So if you killed right wing figures, you'd also be altering the course of history, and eliminating people who might very well be president in 1996 and those who are making bashing gays their number one issue right now. On the one hand, I'm not advocating PWA's turn themselves into human bombs, but on the other hand I have to admit that if I clicked on CNN and heard somebody had blown Patrick Buchanan's head clean off, I'd be elated, and to say otherwise would be a lie. [33]

There were also charges of racism, due to his portrayals of blacks and Hispanics. Baker denied those charges, and pointed out that the protagonist later realized that the blacks were also gay and the Latina "was just a sweet old woman putting up with a lot of (stuff) that I couldn't even imagine." [9] He went on to say, "I just wanted to explore the conflicts between gays and Latinos and gays and blacks ... the real feelings [and the] misapprehensions of each other. I realized it wouldn't all be nice and politically correct. If blacks (and Latinos) want my respect, they have to deal with their own homophobia. I'm not playing guilty liberal anymore". [9]

The book caused a great deal of controversy among critics, with some calling it "irresponsible", and saying it was "determined to give offense" and "appears to endorse violence". [34] One critic of the book wrote, "The work rapidly becomes an apology for political terrorism and effectively advocates the assassination of the entire American New Right. While the reasons for such a vengeance motif are perhaps evident, can it really be countenanced? Are we still justified in referring to this as art? And even if we are, is there a point at which such invective (and such suggestions) become simply counterproductive?" [35] Another critic, however, called it "a masterful creation" and wrote: "In coming years Baker will be seen as having understood the implications of this period in our history while the rest of us were simply living it". [36] It polarized the reading public as well, with letters to the editor of major newspapers both supporting and opposing Baker's ideology. [37] Baker himself was aware that the book would be controversial, and deliberately provoked much of the reaction he received. He said: "Tim and Pete tries to convey in print what people really think rather than what they should think or what's P.C. My fantasy was to leave readers so infuriated they'd throw down the book and march right out to a gun store because they wanted to see the finale so bad they realize the only way it'd happen is if they make it happen in real life!" [33]

After the reception of Tim and Pete, with several critics calling him "The Last Angry Gay Man", Baker faced increasing difficulty finding a publisher for his work and his financial position became precarious. [38] [33] [39] He was only able to publish one novella, Right Wing, and that was self-published on the Internet. [7] Baker's life partner, Ron Robertson, believes that this difficulty led Baker on a quick, downwards emotional spiral. [7] Baker committed suicide at his home on November 5, 1997. [11] His death was noted in literary circles and mainstream press; The Gay Times in the United Kingdom wrote, "Baker's suicide is particularly tragic because it robs American gay writing of a refreshingly distinctive voice quite unlike the po-faced prose of so many of his contemporaries." [40]

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Larry Kramer</span> American playwright (1935–2020)

Laurence David Kramer was an American playwright, author, film producer, public health advocate, and gay rights activist. He began his career rewriting scripts while working for Columbia Pictures, which led him to London, where he worked with United Artists. There he wrote the screenplay for the film Women in Love (1969) and received an Academy Award nomination for his work.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Lambda Literary Award</span> Award for published works which celebrate or explore LGBT themes

Lambda Literary Awards, also known as the "Lammys", are awarded yearly by Lambda Literary to recognize the crucial role LGBTQ writers play in shaping the world. The Lammys celebrate the very best in LGBTQ literature. The awards were instituted in 1989.

Theodore Bruce Bawer is an American writer who has been a resident of Norway since 1999. He is a literary, film, and cultural critic and a novelist and poet, who has also written about gay rights, Christianity, and Islam.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dale Peck</span> American writer

Dale Peck is an American novelist, literary critic, and columnist. His 2009 novel, Sprout, won the Lambda Literary Award for LGBT Children's/Young Adult literature, and was a finalist for the Stonewall Book Award in the Children's and Young Adult Literature category.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Sarah Schulman</span> American writer (born 1958)

Sarah Miriam Schulman is an American novelist, playwright, nonfiction writer, screenwriter, gay activist, and AIDS historian. She holds an endowed chair in nonfiction at Northwestern University and is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities. She is a recipient of the Bill Whitehead Award and the Lambda Literary Award.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Edmund White</span> American novelist, memoirist, and essayist (born 1940)

Edmund Valentine White III is an American novelist, memoirist, playwright, biographer and an essayist on literary and social topics. Since 1999 he has been a professor at Princeton University. France made him Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 1993.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Paul Monette</span> American author, poet, and activist (1945 – 1995)

Paul Landry Monette was an American author, poet, and activist best known for his books about gay relationships.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gay literature</span> Literary genre

Gay literature is a collective term for literature produced by or for the gay community which involves characters, plot lines, and/or themes portraying male homosexual behavior.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Trina Robbins</span> American cartoonist and writer (born 1938)

Trina Robbins is an American cartoonist. She was an early participant in the underground comix movement, and one of the first female artists in that movement. She is a member of the Will Eisner Hall of Fame.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Doty</span> American poet and memoirist

Mark Doty is an American poet and memoirist best known for his work My Alexandria. He was the winner of the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008.

Katherine V. Forrest is a Canadian-born American writer, best known for her novels about lesbian police detective Kate Delafield. Her books have won and been finalists for Lambda Literary Award twelve times, as well as other awards. She has been referred to by some "a founding mother of lesbian fiction writing."

Marc Gascoigne is a British author and editor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James Robert Baker</span> American author

James Robert Baker was an American author of sharply satirical, predominantly gay-themed transgressional fiction. A native Californian, his work is set almost entirely in Southern California. After graduating from UCLA, he began his career as a screenwriter, but became disillusioned and started writing novels instead. Though he garnered fame for his books Fuel-Injected Dreams and Boy Wonder, after the controversy surrounding publication of his novel, Tim and Pete, he faced increasing difficulty having his work published. According to his life partner, this was a contributing factor in his suicide.

Michael Thomas Ford is an American author of primarily gay-themed literature. He is best known for his "My Queer Life" series of humorous essay collections and for his award-winning novels Last Summer, Looking for It, Full Circle, Changing Tides and What We Remember.

Joan Larkin is an American poet and playwright. She was active in the small press lesbian feminist publishing explosion in the 1970s, co-founding the independent publishing company Out & Out Books. She is now in her fourth decade of teaching writing. The science fiction writer Donald Moffitt was her brother.

<i>Adrenaline</i> (novel)

Adrenaline is the first novel written by James Robert Baker (1946–1997), an American author of sharply satirical, predominantly gay-themed transgressional fiction.

Tim Barela is an acclaimed gay cartoonist who is best known for his creation of the comic strip Leonard & Larry. The Leonard & Larry strip first appeared in a 1984 issue of Gay Comix, then were later featured in The Advocate and Frontiers magazines. The comic series has been collected in four volumes published by Palliard Press, and a single volume by Rattling Good Yarns.

Robert Triptow is an American writer and artist. He is known primarily for creating gay- and bisexual-themed comics and for editing Gay Comix in the 1980s, and he was identified by underground comix pioneer Lee Marrs as "the last of the underground cartoonists."

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jon Macy</span> Gay American cartoonist

Jon Macy is a gay American cartoonist. He began his career in 1990 with the series Tropo published September 1990 – April 1992 by Blackbird Comics. Since then, he has contributed to various LGBT comics anthologies and gay pornographic magazines, but he is best known for his graphic novel Teleny and Camille, which won a 2010 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Erotica.

References

  1. Tim and Pete: a novel, James Robert Baker, Simon & Schuster, 1993, ISBN   0-671-79184-2, ISBN   978-0-671-79184-1.
  2. Tim and Pete: a novel, James Robert Baker, Penguin Books, 1994, ISBN   0-14-023493-4, ISBN   978-0-14-023493-0.
  3. Tim and Pete, James Robert Baker, Ringpull, 1995, ISBN   1-898051-22-4, ISBN   978-1-898051-22-0.
  4. Tim and Pete, James Robert Baker, Fourth Estate, 1996, ISBN   1-85702-424-9, ISBN   978-1-85702-424-1.
  5. Tim and Pete: a novel, James Robert Baker, Alyson Books, 2001, ISBN   1-55583-566-X, 9781555835668.
  6. 1 2 Baker, James Robert, JABberwocky Literary Agency, 2002.
  7. 1 2 3 "Robertson's official Baker website". 2006-10-18. Retrieved 2006-12-08.
  8. "Beat Writers". 2005-04-30. Retrieved 2006-10-30.
  9. 1 2 3 Rivenburg, Roy. "He's Angry, Raunchy and Unapologetic". Los Angeles Times , April 8, 1993; Page E-1.
  10. Harris M. Lentz, Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 1997: Film, Television, Radio, Theatre, Dance, Music, Cartoons and Pop Culture, McFarland & Co., 1998, ISBN   0-7864-0460-4, ISBN   978-0-7864-0460-5.
  11. 1 2 "Obituaries:Robert Baker, Satirical Novelist, 50". New York Times . November 24, 1997. p. Section B; Page 7; Column 2.
  12. Labonté, Richard. "Testosterone and Adrenaline by James Robert Baker". Planet Out Book Reviews, October 18, 2006. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
  13. Willis, Paul J. Testosterone. Forward Magazine, November 2000. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
    See Also: Publishers Weekly, September 11, 2000, Section: pwforecasts; Pg. 65
  14. "Alibris Rare Book Search Engine" . Retrieved 2006-10-30.
    See Also: "Biblio Rare Book Search Engine" . Retrieved 2006-10-30.
  15. Young, J. "Bob'S Head Soup". Herald Sun , Australia; August 17, 1995 (page number unavailable).
  16. "James Robert Baker, Writer", The Palm Beach Post, page 3B, Nov 25, 1997.
  17. Joel Perry, "Pumped Fiction: The newest pedal-To-The-Metal Novel by James Robert Baker is, Sadly, His Last", The Advocate page 73, October 10, 2000.
  18. Martin Dines, "From Subterranean to Suburban: The Landscapes of Gay Outlaw Writing", American Studies Journal, Number 50, Fall 2007, ISSN   1433-5239.
  19. Wharton, Greg. Testosterone. 3AMmagazine. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
  20. Variety Staff. "James Robert Baker". Daily Variety, December 11, 1997.
    See Also: Levy, Dan. "Up-Front or Undercover?" San Francisco Chronicle , June 20, 1993; Section: Sunday Review; Pg. 9
  21. C.B. James, "Adrenaline by James Robert Baker", Ready When You Are, November 13, 2007.
  22. 1 2 Sinfield, 78-9.
  23. Lambda, page 15.
  24. 1 2 Boone, pages 236, 257.
  25. 1 2 Sinfield, 78-82.
  26. Slide, pages 32-3.
  27. Sinfield, page 79.
  28. Sinfield, 80-82.
  29. White, Allen (June 8, 2004). "Reagan's AIDS Legacy: Silence equals death". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 24, 2008.
  30. Eiselein, page 168-9.
  31. Kruger, 239.
  32. Oliver, Myrna. "James Robert Baker: Satiric Novelist, Cult Filmmaker". Los Angeles Times ; November 15, 1997, page A-20
  33. 1 2 3 Grzesiak, Rich. Rage, Rant, Revolution: Kamikaze Writer Novelizes AIDS in L.A. axiongrafix.com. Retrieved on 2006-10-30.
  34. Welt, Bernard. "Love and Death in the Gay Novel". Book World, October 14, 1993, p. X7
  35. Pegrum, Mark. "A Big Disease with a Little Name: Responses to AIDS in Contemporary Culture"; Mots Pluriels; Vol.1. no 3. 1997
  36. Lowenthal, Michael. "Tim and Pete"; Lambda Book Report, April 30, 1993, Vol.3; No.9; Pg.14
  37. "Is the Angry Author Just a Couch Potato?" Los Angeles Times , April 19, 1993, Monday, Home Edition, View; Part E; Page 2; Column 1.
  38. See Also: Ben Ehrenreich, "A Quitter, A Chicana Role Model And One Angry Queer"; LA Weekly, July 28, 2000; Cover Story; Pg. 34
  39. James Robert Baker. knittingcircle.org.uk. Retrieved on 2008-10-21.
  40. Wagner, Erica. "James Robert Baker, 50, American Gay Writer". Gay Times, January, 1998, issue 232, page 69