“Holy Xavier” by Joseph Campbell— The Unnamed

holyxavierCampbell, Joseph. “Holy Xavier”, JMS Books, 2013.

The Unnamed

Amos Lassen

We never learn the name of the protagonist in Joseph Campbell’s, “Holy Xavier”. Campbell sets the story in Louisiana.  While at Midnight Mass in the chapel of Loyola University, the protagonist meets the organ player, Philip, with whom he goes home. Once there, he meets Philip’s roommate, Xavier, and is immediately smitten by him and the two begin an affair that lasts as long as Xavier is in college even though he is in a relationship with Rusty. However, graduation ends that affair and aside from online chats, Xavier vanishes.

We learn that every Christmas, Rusty goes home to Turkey Creek, Louisiana to see his sick mother and his ill grandmother and also has sex while there. Perhaps they do not realize it but both men are cheating. The nameless narrator discovers that Xavier died as a result of AIDS. This saddens him even though he knows that he has not been honest with Rusty (who also has not been honest with him.

What we see here is a relationship that survives infidelity and when the story ends the nameless narrator are back together and is preparing for a trip to small town Louisiana for Rusty’s mother’s funeral. This story is erotic and yet we rarely get stories about guys in a relationship that cheat on each other but return to the life they have built together.

Campbell obviously knows Louisiana well and captures it here. If you have not yet read Jacob Campbell, here is a good place to start. However, make sure you move on to his other writings especially “French Quarter Knights” which I included on my list of the best of 2013.

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