A critical darling of the literary world, Moroccan writer Taia is working that whole early 90’s, ACT UP queer look. Then there’s his enchante! (French) accent and those very (very) large, chatty, gay hands.
But big as Taia’s hands are, they are tiny in comparison to his gianormous ego. Recently, Taia was interviewed by one of our smartest gay novelists, Dale Peck, during the recent PEN/World Voices Festival. During the interview, Taia spoke about growing up in incestuously close quarters, and laughed while nervously explaining why he no longer dated:
“When I first arrived, I met a man in the subway (and) I fell in love not with him, but his mother, Simone. So I stayed with him a year and a half, and then I said, ‘bye-bye.’ …. The people I lived with, when I was sort of in love, the more I slept with them, the more they [were] in love with and the less I was in love with them. I had to leave. And of course when you leave someone – he needs, or she needs – to hate you, or destroy you. Since maybe eight years, nine years, I’m living with no one … I always ended up being that heartless, Moroccan boy.”
Tai’s frank admission about his too-damn-hot-for-you status was somewhat surprising given that publishing is known for its self-effacing studs. Jonathan Franzen, Charles Bock, and Dave Eggers being the current shaggy dude ideal(s) of Ivy League straight girls who swoon for Men Who Wield Big Pens. Basically, if you have a square chin, close-set eyes, and lots of feathered hair, you’re literary beefcake. (Think, Jim Palmer, the baseball cum Jockey briefs underwear model and you get the idea.) Being a literary stud is something said stud knows – and everyone else knows – but which nobody ever actually talks about at least, not out loud.
Maybe Taia’s performing a public service by withholding himself from all his fans and potential lovers. Poet Sylvia Plath bagged fellow poet, square jawed (& uber literary stud) Ted Hughes, but became so depressed when he left her for another woman (who also killed herself) that she killed herself, head in gas oven, towels along the kitchen floors of W.H. Auden’s apartment. So maybe Taia’s celibacy has saved more literary hearts than we know.
Regardless, to Abdellah we do bequeath one blue ribbon you can wear for what’s left of the year – and with pride: Superstar of the Bathhouse, 2011.