What was it about 1998? Tina Brown quit The New Yorker to start Talk (which ceased printing in 2002) and Dale Peck left Farrar, Straus for Rob Weisbach Books (which closed in 1999). Axing his brilliant FSG editor John Glusman, Dale said, “I do think I’m one of the best writers around, and I want to be recognized for that,” and the Observer reported he was “planning to complete a seven-novel cycle.” After declining sales from the excellent, must-read Martin and John's approx. 10,000 to The Law of Enclosures' estimated 6,000, Dale's agent Andrew Wylie wanted a $700,000 contract for his client just as his third novel was generating great reviews.
So we've waited fourteen years for Dale to finish side projects like Body Surfing and Shift and get back to serious, adult, gay literary fiction. After several publishing mishaps, including a 2007 pub date [sepia cover], it's finally out now, the second title from the Mischief + Mayhem imprint he co-founded in 2010, a partner of upstart O/R Books. Ron Powers reviews it in today's NYTBR:
“The Garden of Lost and Found [Kindle] is a garden of self-absorbed overreaching, a compost of glutted detail, absurd simile, strained and repetitive metaphor, forced aphorism; of dialogue that ricochets from the pulpy to the dead-on to the flagrantly author-imposed, disgorging exposition under the pretext of speech. Its characters are neither deeply drawn enough to be representational nor fabulous enough to sustain the fantasy genre. Peck, who has set legitimately high standards as a critic, seems here to have committed one of the most amateurish of authorial sins: rather than invite the reader into a story, he demands unconditional surrender to his solipsism and his rhetorical strut."
Every writer needs an editor. This includes Ron Powers, who feels obligated to announce, "Nor am I (“um, duh,” as James Ramsay would say) opposed to gay literature."
Netherland novelist Joseph O'Neill needed no such disclaimer to say he found Dale's book "strange and wonderful."