Race Point Light doesn’t end when the narrator comes out. Like most LGBT persons, the narrator of Race Point Light still has at least half a lifetime to live after he moves into the gay community. He has things to do. He has to find a way to live. He has to support himself and has to choose a place to live where he can connect with a gay community and where he can continue to be in contact with his children. He has to find out which of the friends from the first half of his life will also do for the last half. What relatives does he still have? And he has to do all these things in a world where AIDS has taken hold, where the president of the United States, a pleasant, grandfatherly type, smiling, says it’s “Morning in America,” while LGBT persons, almost every one of them, would agree that our culture is fast approaching midnight. This is only partially a novel about the culture of the US. It moves through the forties to the first decade of the twentieth century, when gay men and women started marrying legally for the first time, but that’s not where the focus is. We’re reading about a man determined to think well of himself and at least one of his goals while a teenager and young adult is to find out how. As a young person, he is not ready to be a rebel—what his cultures, gay and straight, offer him is alternatively seductive and repellant—until he tries their offerings and finds them to be failures. He is ready to create a new life. He gets off the Interstate down from Maine Labor Day, 1984, and finds himself in the middle of AIDS.
“Coming out” is a theme that occupies the narrator all through his life. He asks questions. What is it? How do I do it? When? Where? I am out now, but I don’t remember how I got here. He wonders, Is the question of Coming out too steeped in sixties radical politics to be applicable to anybody’s life in 2004?
Race Point Light is a big novel, epic in scope, a narrative of a culture in crisis, and yet the focus is intensely on the narrator, who thinks about the intimate issues of his life and lays them out for the reader to see and feel and understand, and who moves toward a quiet resolution. He moves in no strict chronological order from Commercial Street in Provincetown in 2002 to the South Carolina beach when he is three or four years old to Race Point beach, when he is sixty-five, moving from idea to idea, wars, the deaths of presidents, impeachment and conviction, presidential indifference to his obligation to attend to the health of citizens, the scandal surrounding the discovery of the AIDS virus, feeling and understanding the impact of events in his culture. It is a giant novel about what the narrator comes to see is the most interesting—and powerfully important—sixty years for gay people in all of western history. Race Point Light is a fascinating, absorbing story, alternating between large scenes and intimate, small scenes like a single man crossing Arlington Street alone in Boston, late at night, in deep snow, considering the meaning of the Serenity Prayer. Race Point Light has the fascination of some kinds of gossip, where the person speaking is someone we trust and is willing to tell all she knows.
And yet, all she knows, since this is an autobiographical novel, not only suggests everything about a person we could know, it suggests a serious and comprehensive narrative about the whole culture of the United States during the last half of the twentieth century, its successes and its catastrophic failures. The narrator of Race Point Light says, in Provincetown in 2004, “We’ve lived in interesting times, for a gay man the most interesting times of all. It may be that there haven’t been, since the beginning of the earth, a more interesting sixty years than 1940 to now for gay people.”
You can read Race Point Light about this man and his interesting times by going to http://www.dwightcathcart.net. There you can buy an ebook copy of Race Point Light for your iPad, Nook or Kindle. We’ve moved on from print editions.