Sunday, August 13, 2006

Review: Lewis DeSimone's Chemistry

Lewis DeSimone. Chemistry
Published by Haworth Press
Review by Andrew Warburton


Chemistry is a well-written account of a gay couple’s descent into co-dependence and mental illness. It is a story that reads like an autobiography, but without the tension and originality of fiction. More than anything, it lacks that overarching poetic truth you find in writing that has something radical to say about love or subjectivity.

Since the publication of Prozac Nation in 1995, Wurtzel’s experiences have become a way of life for millions of people. That we now have another adept storyteller to chronicle these people’s lives can only be a good thing. But I can’t help feeling we need something more: literature that does this on an aesthetic and psychological as well as a conscious level.

DeSimone is essentially a realist, skilled at pacing and conjuring small, suggestive scenes. At times he writes with an American cheerfulness which may jar with a British audience more comfortable with cynicism than lack of self-restraint. Chemistry is a novel that is set in, and belongs to the 1990s. DeSimone has captured something crucially important using a literary form that is no longer relevant.

Andrew Warburton is a writer and poet.

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