Persona Press • San Francisco
fiction $ 4.95

A finely crafted piece. Its very brevity and precision may not appeal to readers who prefer a literary canvas put together with broader and more varied strokes. The fact that much gay liberature is written in this broader, wordier, and more romanticized style speaks well for The Fourth Wall, and for the future of a gay literature which is both more varied and experimental. The novel is heartily recommended.

--Thomas Vinew, GPU News

 
 The Fourth Wall is set within the framework of a single day and is written in a unique fresh style blending contemporary cinematic imagery with the sparse precision of the French nouveau roman. Its principal character Bret Hamilton lives an alternate lifestyle in a future society dominated by television and Var is a willing initiate into his private world.

1

Bret Hamilton is long awake. he sits in bed reading while var sleeps quietly by his side. turning the page to the beginning of the next chapter, bret pauses for a moment to look at the beautiful stranger who shares his bed this morning. dark curly hair and alabaster skin. full sensuous lips. a soft tuft of hair visible just above his chest. bret wonders when this man will awaken. how var will look at him, what he will say. bret smiles to himself and continues his reading.

*

bret.

var is awake now. bret puts down the book and turns to answer him, noticing a puzzled expression on his companion’s face.

yes.

what is it for? why are you looking at it like that?

i'm reading. looking at the words.

let me see.

bret turns the book so that var can see the print. the questioning look on his face fades. var does not understand. he is disappointed, perhaps hurt.

bret remembers the bewilderment he felt the first time he had gone into an underground library. he could easily comprehend the volumes filled with pictures, but seeing page after page of seemingly meaningless print, bret thought himself the victim of a cruel joke. he now tries to explain this relic of another age to var.

each group of markings is a word.

how do you know? how can anyone see a sound?

they're not really sounds. well, maybe they are. each of these black things is called a letter and each letter represents a sound. when the sounds are run together fast, they make words.

Waking

and this?

up

this?

begins

does it really sound like that? or are you just making fun of me?

it really does, var. i'm not making fun of you.

the book falls to the floor as bret leans forward to kiss var. var’s fingers move along the back of var’s neck, through his hair, along his shoulders. and bret puts his arms around var, drawing him closer.

copyright © 1980 by N. A. Diaman