B0868. TIME REMAINING. James McCourt. New York, Knopf, 1993. 273pp. First Hardcover Edition, stated; DJ. - 9780679412663 0-679-41266-2
“TIME REMAINING - technically a story and a novella which cohere into a whole -- is a masterwork of the most impressive order and a classic on a number of levels. Its various strands include: half a century of haut gay sensibility, from the postwar years to the season of AIDS; the low corruption of American politics; a fireworks display of opinions on opera, poetry, the novel and old movies (or "moompix metaphysics"); and a feat of tough and brilliant writing, sustained at the highest intellectual level. This is sheer text, and not for the lazy, the faint-hearted, or those happy with received truths and well-worn genres. Though its purported story -- a scattering of the ashes of nine dead drag queens, most casualties of AIDS -- suggests an elegy, the impact of reading McCourt in full, ferocious form is nothing short of exhilarating. That this book is out of print is scandalous; that it was barely recognized on publication -- in favor of easier, more easily categorized (or marginalized) gay authors and their books -- is yet more shameful. This is an alkaline, angry turn from the author of MAWRDEW CZGZOWCHWZ, the most dazzling novel about opera ever written. But in its idiosyncratic way, TIME REMAINING gleans the gold.
This book is one of the most extraordinary accounts I have ever read of the AIDS crisis and its impact. It disavows all the usual cant, in favor of two "stories" that recreate the mental world of two survivors. The larger portion of the book is given over to the memories of Odette O'Doyle, a drag queen (though she would never use the phrase) who has just returned from Europe where she scattered the ashes of eight of her dead friends. Her account ranges over the New York gay scene for nearly four decades, with constant insight and an accumulating mass of detail that are, in the end, both funny and deeply moving, in a way that I had hardly anticipated. You may be able to find this book second-hand; it certainly should be back in print.”
- Bruce Frier
“McCourt is best known for his extravagant novel MAWRDEW CZGOWCHWZ (1975), about a fictional opera diva, and his 2003 nonfiction book QUEER STREET, about gay life in New York City after World War II. James McCourt was born in New York City and attended Manhattan College, NYU, the Yale School of Drama, and the Old Met. Among his works of fiction and nonfiction are MAWRDEW CZGOWCHWZ, WAYFARING AT WAVERLY IN SILVER LAKE, and QUEER STREET: THE RISE AND FALL OF AN AMERICAN CULTURE, 1947-1985. He lives in New York City”.
- Wayne Koestenbaum