Swelter

Thoughout the socio-sexual-cultural whirl, there were the memories of the forever wonderful Miami Book Fair to sustain us through several trying weeks. Meg O'Brien of WLRN's Radio Reading Service, selling recorded tapes of the authors and full of the 411: "Some lunatic told Mitch Kaplan the fair has gotten really sleazy; too many lesbians and communists." The amiable Russell Banks, who captured the seamy side of Miami in Continental Drift, commenting on the city: "I write about all that squalor stuff, but it doesn't mean I like it. I'm over at the Hotel La Palma in Coral Gables. It's pleasant, you can walk around at night." Martin Amis, author of the new Time's Arrow, fending off passive-aggressive admirers ("I really liked your book, but then I had to go to a club for a party, so I couldn't finish it, you know...") chatting pleasantly and finally conceding: "I have to say I like Miami. I accept it; it accepts me."

One of the more illuminating moments came during the panel with a group of authors from Hometowns: Gay Men Talk About Where They Belong, with Andrew Holleran perfectly capturing the turmoil of the new diaspora -- gays leaving shattered cities and moving back to small towns. But then, as he pointed out, the terminal ambivalency, the search for a place of rest, acceptance, and fun, is universal: "Hannah Arendt said that the task of every man is to make himself a home. But then, I always think about what Turgenev wrote. `A good man does not know where to live.'

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