A Horse Named Sorrow
by Trebor Healey
Terrace Books. 275 pages, $26.95
TREBOR HEALEY’S LATEST NOVEL, A Horse Named Sorrow, is a painfully beautiful book. It’s also gloriously sexy and, along with Michelle Tea’s Valencia (2000), it’s among the finest depictions of queer life in 1990s San Francisco. Poetic, tragic, and often euphoric, it’s the kind of story that I found myself wanting to live inside of.
A picaresque novel in the truest sense, A Horse Named Sorrow is narrated by Seamus, an endearing romantic who meets the guy of his dreams on a San Francisco street at the tender age of 21. Jimmy, eight years older than Seamus, has just arrived on a cross-country bicycle trip from his hometown of Buffalo. During their erotically charged first day together, in which Seamus gives Jimmy a long bath to wash away the dirt of his journey, Jimmy reveals that he’s HIV-positive. It’s 1990, and he’s come to San Francisco to die. After losing track of each other and making a lucky reconnection, Seamus decides to take care of Jimmy during the last year of his life.