Syllabus: Book 1991

9.18.2007

By Justin Ravitz

Tim and Pete, James Robert Baker

Panned by most gay critics at the time as an irresponsible reaction to the AIDS crisis, Tim and Pete may stand the test of time as one of the greatest, most unapologetic pieces of fiction to emerge from the AIDS epidemic. Like Joan Didion on speed (which was, incidentally, Baker's drug of choice) and featuring the dystopian milieu of Southern California, a location that figures as a major character, Baker painted a nihilistic and revolutionary view of gay culture the likes of which have not been seen since. The titular characters' relationship oscillates between tenderness and outright hatred for one another. After being kidnapped by a group of gay terrorists who plan to assassinate President Reagan, Tim and Pete manage to reconcile their differences when faced with the prospect of death at the hands of their captors. Controversial pro-gay agitprop never looked so good, nor left such an indelible mark.

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