Gary Indiana - 'I Can Give You Anything but Love'

Gary Indiana - 'I Can Give You Anything but Love'


The cover for 'I Can Give You Anything but Love'.

There’s something far beyond special where Gary Indiana is concerned.

The man’s going strong, which this reissue of his memoir from 2015 easily shows. For me, his writing is to and fro, up and down, great or tiring. He’s always a brilliant stylist and therefore worth reading, somewhat like Truman Capote or David Foster Wallace, although Indiana stands alone in his fiefdom, perhaps next to Jean Genet.

I suppose part of the reason for why his writing sometimes bores me is the sex descriptions, which are often just not my thing; I’m glad Indiana gets his kicks off, but for me, nuh: I’m more a keep-something-on for measure kind of person, although I do love some of the extremism to the commercial side of gay art, say, as in Mapplethorpe’s photography.

Gary Indiana can be a force like no other. His interview in the Winter 2021 edition of The Paris Review is wondrous and worth spending 20 USD to read. His collection of essays, Fire Season: Selected Essays 1984–2021, shook me up and made me fall in love with his writing again. His introduction to Pierre Guyotat’s Coma is shimmering from critical adoration.

I Can Give You Anything but Love is a good view of what it’s like to be Indiana, I suppose, although I just wish the book were longer. This is like rock ‘n’ roll at its best, like Little Richard, not Mötley Crüe; this is visceral writing, although I wish the writing was as strict in the essay collection; at times, Indiana veers toward the droll, although I feel that’s also needed; Indiana is a human being, not a fucking machine. Fucking machine. Fun.

Some quotes:

People like Abdul have eyes that see in the dark with the accuracy of night-vision goggles. For that matter, they could pick up your location anywhere in Havana as if your wallet was sending a GPS signal.

After an inevitable crackdown, gay rights groups in El Norte denounced the Castro regime’s repressive measures. The Castro regime can piss up a rope, but some repressive measures are understandable.

Do Cubans call “9/11” Nueve Once? Or something else? What Americans call the Bay of Pigs, Cubans call the Victory of Giron. Maybe they have less apocalyptically compressed terms for disasters befalling El Norte, which Americans consider infinitely worse than anybody else’s. It was a pivotal event in the modern world, obviously. But Cuba hasn’t been part of the modern world in a long time, marooned in a Marxist-Leninist time warp of sluggish totalitarianism.

Third blowjob: Richard Wacker, really his name, whose parents operate a bungalow-type motor inn in Salem that I drive past all the time while I’m training at Rockingham. The bungalows ring a kidney-shaped pond and suggest a magnified miniature-golf course. This is the year my bones grow too big for me to stay at the requisite jockey weight, and the thoroughbred owner who offered to sponsor me says if he tries to enter me in a race I’ll get disqualified. Richard Wacker’s glistening teeth, his dark feathery hair. His fleshy lips. His lascivious mouth. Richard Wacker is my image of perfection for at least a year. No one else is interested in him that way because he’s exotic, ethnic in some indefinable disturbing manner, and the expressions on his face point to an indecently wide and precocious range of sexual experience. After unbuttoning his corduroys he pushes my face into his kissing-fresh underpants, moaning joyously when the head of his cock presses into my mouth. He instantly spurts out a little splash of semen, which I swallow to show how much I really care for him. After a stunned moment Richard Wacker asks, in a drowsy, sweetly earnest voice, if his dick is bigger than Donny Samara’s.

I Can Give You Anything but Love is published by Seven Stories Press in paperback on 2024-07-09.