How to Survive a Plague is a Page-Turner.

This queer reader approached How to Survive a Plague with some trepidation.  Might it just be too difficult to return to that painful time:  a time when so many friends were dying of AIDS?    Well, perhaps the biggest surprise in David France’s new book is that in addition to being an important, exhaustively researched history, […]

Treehab is Bob Smith’s Gift to Us.

Fans of openly gay stand-up comedian, Bob Smith will be delighted with his new book, Treehab.  It’s filled with humorous stories and brilliant one-liners.  Nevertheless, there is a dark shadow hanging over these dozen essays, because Mr. Smith reveals early on that he is suffering from ALS.  While Mr. Smith is understandably angry about this […]

Edmund White’s Our Young Man is His Best.

Here’s something you might have missed–this queer reader almost did:  Edmund White has written a novel that may well be his best.  Take a moment for that to sink in. Our Young Man is the epic gay novel Edmund White was destined to write, because he is perhaps the only author who could have written […]

The Dream Life of Astronauts: Nine Superb Short Stories from Patrick Ryan

Let’s face it:  short story collections can be a tough sell.  Even the best of them include a few clunkers.  Some even throw in some unpublished fragments:  bits of what might have been a novel (novella?), but didn’t quite flesh out.   Perhaps more importantly, they tend to lack an underlying theme that somehow unites them.  […]

Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall is a Good Beach Read.

If you’re looking for a good summer read, consider James Magruder’s Love Slaves of Helen Hadley Hall.  It follows the stories of the residents of a Yale dormitory in the school year of 1983-1984.  In all the there are nineteen central characters.  Normally following that many characters might present a challenge to the reader, but […]

Black Deutschland is Flawless.

Although a novel, Darryl Pinckney’s Black Deutschland reads like a memoir.  The style is simple, direct, conversational, flawless.  It’s the the story of an American abroad: a visitor to Berlin in the final days of the wall.  His journey from the superficially exotic, but ultimately predictable world of Berlin’s nightlife to the entirely unpredictable reality […]

What Belongs to You is a Good Old-Fashioned Gay Novel.

Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You is a good, old-fashioned gay novel.   In the tradition of Edmund White,  Mr. Greenwell tells a very personal story.  And like Mr. White, Mr. Greenwell doesn’t shy away from sex.   Sexuality isn’t incidental to this book; it is central. What Belongs to You tells the story of an American […]

A Little Life is Like No Other Novel.

To paraphrase Tolstoy, great novels are not all alike.  Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life, for example, is like no other novel.  It is an epic novel that follows several characters over decades.  But what sets A Little Life apart is the depth of its characterizations.   The characters in A Little Life are fully realized, complex […]

James Magruder’s Let Me See It is Exceptional.

James Magruder’s short story collection, Let Me See It, is exceptional.  Mr. Magruder is a master at dialogue.  His stories are perfectly constructed.  And he has a literary style that is all his own:  minimalist, yet peppered with telling details  But what sets this collection apart is quite simply the way these stories are arranged.  […]

John Lahr’s New Tennessee Williams Biography is Insightful and Disappointing.

Queer readers have waited a long, long time for the definitive Tennessee Williams biography.  Mr. Williams took a stab at it himself with his Memoirs, published in 1975.  But Memoirs, while a thoroughly entertaining read, was self-serving and not entirely accurate.  Dotson Rader’s book Cry of the Heart was a very personal account of Mr. […]

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