Picano, Felice. “Fred in Love”. The University of Wisconsin Press. 2005.
How We Love
Felice Picano is one of the great gay men of letters. He is the award winning author of many books that tell of the way we live. The University of Wisconsin has published “Fred in Love” a revealing tale of the author’s relationship with a nine day old kitten that was scheduled for euthanasia yet refused to die. Picano rescued the kitten and named him Fred and trained him. And as Picano began his literary career in the 1970’s, he had his companion Fred who showed extraordinary intelligence and wonder. As Picano got to know Greenwich Village, Fred was there helping him to maintain himself during the lean years before Picano became a household name among gays.
When a friend brought over his female cat for Fred to have a little fun with, things began to change. The female cat’s owner was the perfect man in Picano’s eyes and it was the two cats that brought the two men together. What happens is a wonderful comedy of manners and as the cats begin to know ach other so do the men.
Picano’s glimpse of the Village in the 1970’s is a look at an era no longer with us and still fondly remembered. Just a few years after the Stonewall riots, a new gay community was beginning to form and the idea that we, gays, would have our own literature was a dream. That dream became reality with Picano at the helm of a new literature written by us and for us and about us.
The picture painted by Picano in his short little book is just amazing and enlightening as it shows how we grew and how we learned from our past. Consisting of only 100 pages, Picano gives us a picture that we are not likely to forget. He does with nostalgia and charm and with gossip and wit. It also shows how we love—no matter the object of our affection—a human or a pet.
The gay subculture of Greenwich Village will always be a major part of our history and it is so good to have another look at it. The relationship between man and cat is also a story of man’s relationship with man and his relationship to where he lives and the circumstances he lives in. This is such a beautifully written book that you cannot help but smile as you read it. My only problem was that it was over too soon.