Canal Street Gothic – D. Thame

CTS(Not discussed by the group but written in a personal capacity.)

I lived, very briefly, in Manchester and got to know Canal Street fairly well. This book reflects my feeings about the various bars and the characters who frequent them fairly well.

John Walker of Pink Ewe books says: In 1990 the area around Canal Street really was gothic – in a scary way – for many gay people. James Anderton+ wasn’t making life much fun. There were deaths – not least that of Albert Kennedy. The Manchester-based youth homelessness charity founded in his memory is 21 years old this year, too. Now David’s book asks if it might be gothic in other ways….

He also wonders: Has Manchester’s gay village – the oldest and biggest in the UK, and 21 years old this year – produced any other literature? Unlike London – which has Alan Hollinghurst, Jonathan Kemp (Manchester born but a chronicler of the capital) and many others – has the city yet inspired a gay writer of note, except Russell T Davies of Queer as Folk fame? Is the gay village just about beer and fun, has it any other legacies in the arts?

My book group loves Hollinghurst but this author isn’t in that league. Nor is he as good as Kemp, who I like but my group loathes.

Nevertheless, we get a good picture of the sort of people who hang around this are, less than a square mile, and of the suburbs from which they come. Their different lives, some genteel, others rough, are well-portrayed. They have interconnections with each other and from a distant past about which they probably know nothing.

+ the chief constable who spoke of ‘gays swirling round in a cesspit of their own making’ – until his daughter came out)

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