FABER & FABER £10.99 (151pp) £10.99 (plus £2.25 p&p per order) from 0870 800 1122

Buenas Noches Buenos Aires by Gilbert Adair

Journal of the plague years

Gideon, the young gay protagonist of Gilbert Adair's new novel, comes out in what Edmund White has described as the halcyon period of unabashed hedonism between the repression of the Fifties and Sixties and the ravages of the Eighties and Nineties. It is an era when, despite crabs, rashes, inflammations, hives and hepatitis, an appointment at the STD clinic holds no more terror than a trip to the dentist.

Gideon is determined to enjoy all the fruits of liberation, first in London, where a job at Foyles enables him to experience the tawdry pleasures of the city's newly emergent gay scene, and then in Paris, where he lands a post in the Berlitz language school, whose English department is predominantly staffed by gay men. Chatting with his four colleagues (the would-be novelist George; the hypochondriac and masochist Fereydoun; the sexual predator Mick; and the unattainably gorgeous Ralph), he discovers the camaraderie he has lacked. He listens rapt as they recount their sexual adventures and, too ashamed to admit to his own ineptitude, invents stories to gain their respect.

Then, shortly after the first intimation of a "gay cancer" in America (which Mick dismisses as no more probable than gay gallstones), the horror of Aids hits the group. While his friends attempt to deal with their diagnoses - and the disease which, in those days, followed swiftly - Gideon, who realises that his fantasies have been the safest form of sex, is left regretting his isolation and prepared to take extreme risks for the sake of solidarity.

Gideon's death wish sounds the only original note in an otherwise predictable novel. Adair adds little to the graphic accounts to be found in works such as Alan Hollinghurst's The Swimming Pool Library and Renaud Camus's Tricks. Edmund White himself has famously chronicled the transition from nightclubs to night sweats, and orgies to funerals.

The banality of the plot might be less serious if either the characterisation or prose showed more distinction. Gideon, however, is less a character than a neurosis with erudition. Adair's usual linguistic precision deserts him as he indulges in a succession of clumsy images, such as the man with a penis so large that "when it was fully erect, I could barely move around his tiny room".

In his opening paragraph, Gideon declares that "Everything you read in the next 150 pages is true. Absolutely everything and absolutely true. This is a true story." The over-emphasis strikes a warning note to those familiar with the games-playing in Adair's earlier, more successful novels. Nevertheless, artistic - not biographical - truth is the determinant of successful fiction. On that count, Buenas Noches Buenos Aires sadly fails.

Michael Arditti's stories, 'Good Clean Fun', are due from Maia Press in May

Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments