THOSE OF US who aren't old or dull enough to be part of the baby-boom generation can only seethe at its self-absorption and self-satisfaction. David Gilmour's new novel, An Affair with the Moon (Random House, 240 pages, $18 paper) is a bad, baby-boom version of Brideshead Revisited. The narrator is Christian Blackwood, a thirtysomething twerp who's a journalist for a TV arts program. For years he's had a platonic but passionate crush on an old school chum. The chum is Harrow Winncup, a wealthy, well-connected, dilettantish fellow. Even as a small boy Harrow is not really loyal to his friends.
The novel progresses from Christian's initial infatuation to a tiff caused by mothers, a secret friendship, a shared girlfriend at university, a drifting apart, another wooing of Harrow, and a climactic, murderous incident that causes all sorts of hidden emotions to erupt. Mostly it's about remembering carefree days of drinking in Toronto's Yorkville district, listening to blues bands in tatty but chic strip clubs and, of course, waltowing in the memory of sweet '60s innocence. There's a fair amount of lusting after exotically ethnic young women by whitebread males who sneer at homosexuals. If Harrow were a compelling character, An Affair with the Moon might work as a slice of slightly bitter '60s nostalgia. But he isn't and, like the narrator, he's a bore of catatonic drabness.
Gilmour gives no depth to his characters. Anyone with any knowledge of the Toronto arts and media community will probably find resemblances between some characters and real people, but the resemblances are as vague and superficial as the book's meaning - a meaning probably best revealed in one of those old '60s songs that are used to sell beer these days.