Ten Gay Men’s Novels You Should Already Have Read If You Consider Yourself Even Semi-Literate

We’re glibbets, which rhymes with the froggy ribbets, and we have a literary canon that most of you won't read. What’s a glibbet? A glibbet is a member of the GLBT community: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender. Like the jingle for the old Women’s Lib-co-opting Virginia Slims “fags” (as the Brits call them), “we’ve got our own set of classics now, baby – we’ve come a long, long way.” The trouble is, straight people won't be caught dead taking any self-segregated GLBT lit college classes, and after you graduate, it's hopeless. You people generally have to be shamed into reading gay-themed books by aren’t-afraid-to-be-assholes-about-it assholes like me, who enjoy pointing out that while we glibbets read the work of straight writers all the time, you straight folks - particularly men - generally continue on your merry way without bothering to read our work at all. (Really, fellas: would you take a novel with a shirtless guy on the cover out to the park for an afternoon read, especially if your ulterior motive is to pick up some some lovely, equally bookish gal? This is particularly true the more muscles you have, because face facts: we generally have better bodies and haircuts than you do, and if you're lying on the grass looking studly in your tank top reading gay fiction, you'll be a babe magnet, all right, but the babes will all be guys.)

So consider this Top 10 list a big ol' guilt trip. I’ve included only gay men’s fiction. Some equally irritated lesbian can do one on gay women's lit, and if she doesn't step up soon I'll do it myself and incur the wrath of the Sapphics as well.

After you’ve read the list – or maybe you could just skip the list – tell me off. Inform me that I’ve missed the boat: I’m too old; youth today are post-gay; labels don’t matter, and all that self-serving, blinders-on bullshit. Remind me of the books I’ve forgotten or teach me the ones I don't know. I started this fight. Wanna make something of it? No shirts, no shoes, but most of all, no shirts. Fighting is so much hotter without shirts.

Self-conscious yet?

 

'The Lost Weekend' by Charles Jackson

Yes, this is the book that inspired Billy Wilder’s Oscar-winning 1945 film about writers’ block and alcoholism. But what do you suppose makes Jackson’s original novel’s lead character, a novelist named Don Birnham, a blocked alcoholic? He’s a closet case. Wilder and his co-screenwriter, Charles Brackett, eschewed that pesky little problem and left the root cause of Birnham’s dipsomania unstated. Why? They had no choice; it would have violated the Production Code, though they do include a hint in the form of a creepy Bellevue night nurse (Frank Faylen). But Jackson, who wrote the explicitly gay novel The Fall of Valor, includes a vital passage about Birnham’s attraction to another guy in college that leaves no doubt about his underlying psychology. It’s a great novel made even better by its unexpected gay subtext.

Buy Lost Weekend (New York Classics) from Amazon.com

 

'The City and the Pillar' by Gore Vidal

This landmark 1948 novel by the prolific, brilliant, and mouthy “homosexualist” author (his absurd word, not mine) is frank and candid but still ends with a lie: the main character kills the object of his affections when in fact what Vidal really wanted the protagonist to do was fuck his brains out. But that would have been beyond the pale in the late 1940s, when murder was so much more acceptable than anal penetration (and probably still is in Mississippi). Nevertheless, it took guts for an ambitious young writer like Vidal to publish such an unapologetic look at gay men’s lives at the start of his career, and it reads just as well today as I imagine it did at the time it was published, though it can’t be nearly as shocking.

Buy The City and the Pillar: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

'Dancer from the Dance' by Andrew Holleran

Beautiful men, plentiful sex, one of the world’s finest beaches as a backdrop – gay life in the 1970s in Fire Island Pines is idyllic in Andrew Holleran’s (forgive me) seminal novel, but only to a point. Even before AIDS sent the giant disco ball crashing down, Holleran – who has the least sense of humor in all of gay literature – found a core of sadness and despair in the midst of the thumping, humping party. Holleran’s name is actually Eric Garber; he reportedly wrote under a pseudonym to hide his sexual orientation from his mother. This pathetic detail shouldn’t undermine the author’s fine work, however; Dancer from the Dance is the golden era of gay liberation’s greatest chronicle.

Buy Dancer from the Dance: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

'Maurice' by E.M. Forster

Written at the height of Forster’s powers as a novelist (he started it in 1913), Maurice wasn’t published until after Forster’s death in 1970. Forster was quite plainly afraid of what it would do to his reputation. He was correct to be concerned. The piggish Cynthia Ozick opined that she’d loved Forster’s novels until she learned he was gay, at which pointed she decided that she saw through them all. (Oh, Cindy! With a mug as butt-ugly as yours, you should know better than to make such inane and superficial judgments. I don't read your books because you're a meishkeit; I don't read them because you're a fucking self-righteous bigot.) In fact, Maurice is a great gay love story with a happy ending. That some still find it hard to believe – lasting love not only between two men but between men of different classes! how entirely un-British! - is testimony not to Forster’s failure as a novelist but to some dull-witted readers’ failures of imagination.

Buy Penguin Classics Maurice from Amazon.com

 

'American Studies' and 'An Arrow’s Flight' by Mark Merlis

Mark Merlis is the greatest unsung novelist in America. If he was straight he’d have book awards up the wazoo; because he writes about guys who take it up the wazoo, he can’t get a book deal. His novels are purely brilliant. American Studies is a riff on the story of F. O. Matthiessen, the Harvard scholar who essentially invented the discipline that serves as the novel’s title and was hounded to suicide by HUAC; An Arrow’s Flight is an unlikely but hilarious and yet enormously moving modern retelling of Sophocles’ Philoctetes, starring Pyrrhus as a red-headed gay stripper. f you don’t read them both you’re a fool.

Buy American Studies: A Novel from Amazon.com

Buy An Arrow's Flight: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

'Gods and Monsters' by Christopher Bram

 Before the screenwriter-director Bill Condon turned Bram’s novel into an Oscar-winning film, it was called Father of Frankenstein; the publisher wisely retitled it to get a bigger readership. It’s worth a read even if you’ve seen the movie, for Bram’s psychological realism has never been sharper, despite the fact that this tale of the real Hollywood director James Whale (who made Frankenstein and The Bride of Frankenstein and Show Boat, among other great movies) and his gardener is entirely fictional. It’s a knowing, sympathetic, and at times comical look inside a creative but increasingly frustrated gay man’s mind as his health declines in old age, though you’ll be hard pressed to imagine Whale as anyone other than the perfectly-cast Ian McKellen.

Buy Gods and Monsters: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

'A Boy’s Own Story' by Edmund White

Eric Garber leads the list of humorless gay writers, but Edmund White comes in as a close second. But one doesn’t read White for laughs. One reads him for the beauty of his sentences, their craft and their care. A Boy’s Own Story is White’s most accessible novel. (Steer clear of the oh-so-precious Caracole.) Loosely based on his own adolescence, it’s a common enough tale to resonate with many of us regardless of our sexual orientation and particular enough to be solely about the precocious, “cornholing” boy who would become the masterful author of 12 novels, 3 biographies, 3 memoirs, 1 play, and many assorted works of nonfiction, as well as a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and an Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Tough to beat that.

Buy A Boy's Own Story: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

'Giovanni’s Room' by James Baldwin

Baldwin wrote this classic gay men’s novel in Europe in the 1950s after realizing that he would never be treated simply as a writer in America; he’d always be a Negro writer. He then threw all caution to the wind and wrote Giovanni’s Room, a novel about gay men – one American, one Italian, both living in Paris. It doesn’t end well. One of them gets his head chopped off. (Je te plumerai la tête! Et la tête, et la tête! Alouette! Alouette! Oh, oh, oh, oh!) Still, it’s both elegant and raw, romantic and honest - one of Baldwin’s greatest achievements. And despite its depressing ending, it still managed to give ‘50s gay readers hope, if only because it affirmed our existence on the planet.

Buy Giovanni's Room from Amazon.com

 

'The Line of Beauty' by Alan Hollinghurst

One of the few gay novelists to have broken through the mirrored ceiling (it’s like the glass ceiling is for women, only gay men are so narcissistic, dontcha know, that all we see is ourselves), Alan Hollinghurst won the Man Booker prize for The Line of Beauty, just one of several Hollinghurst novels the straight world takes seriously as genuine literature. That’s not only because it is genuine literature; it’s because Hollinghurst is British (they write better than Americans), went to Oxford (unimpeachable pedigree), edited The Times Literary Supplement (no shabby little GLBT magazines on his resume), and has a most distinguished-looking goatee. All jokes aside, this is some serious lit. Read it, and if you have a problem with the fact that its protagonist sucks cock, get over yourself, Louise. Nobody’s forcing one down your throat. Then again, maybe someone should. You might not be so hung up.

Buy The Line of Beauty: A Novel from Amazon.com

 

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Comments

.'s picture
. May 10, 2012 - 11:13am

What about Burroghs? 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 10, 2012 - 11:16am

You couldn't possibly have read the article that fast. Someone pulled the old Skim-n-post.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 10, 2012 - 11:19am

Great suggestions. I'm sorry to say I haven't read anything here, but looking forward to adding some of them to my reading list. Though, I'd recommend The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer as a worthy addition. 

Monica Fay's picture
Monica Fay from Los Angeles is reading The Satanic Verses May 10, 2012 - 11:25am

HAHA! "Some equally irritated lesbian can do one on gay women's lit, and if she doesn't step up soon I'll do it myself and incur the wrath of the Sapphics as well." 

Can't wait to see that one. 

 

I guess I better get my butt over to the library- I haven't read any of these. 

 

 

It Isn't Slutty If You're Wearing Pearls blog

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 10, 2012 - 11:25am

Haven't read any of these either, but I'm proud to say I've read plenty of books where dudes bang other dudes. I only read those parts through one squinty eye, though (but my feelings on the matter are still 'evolving.') I kid, I kid...

Great stuff, Ed. I found your introductory challenge particularly funny.

Stacy Kear's picture
Stacy Kear from Bucyrus, Ohio lives in New Jersey is reading The Art of War May 10, 2012 - 11:35am

I take your challenge, I have always found the Gay and Lesbian sections of the book store fraught with nothing but what would be equivalent to a romance novels. So thanks for the suggestions, I am certainly not afraid of being turned on. I would recommend Samuel R. Delaney. 

Typewriter Demigod's picture
Typewriter Demigod from London is reading "White Noise" by DeLilo, "Moby-Dick" by Hermann Mellivile and "Uylsses" by Joyce May 10, 2012 - 12:49pm

No Naked Lunch??

herovillain's picture
herovillain May 10, 2012 - 2:28pm

Why only gay men? What about gay women? Fun Home anybody?

Q Clemente's picture
Q Clemente from Virginia is reading "The Year of Our War," by Steph Swainston May 10, 2012 - 2:35pm

No Oscar Wilde. None. Lame.

Nayrb Esob's picture
Nayrb Esob May 10, 2012 - 2:46pm

What? No Chuck Palahniuk? and I agree no gay women?

Dan Roberts's picture
Dan Roberts May 10, 2012 - 3:44pm

No gay women, no Palahniuk. Just the assumption that this community won't read certain literature based on the sexualiity of the author. Colour me unimpressed.

But there it is, explicitly in the title Gay Men's Novels. So that accounts for the lack of lesbian literature. And not every list of great novels can include Chuck Palahniuk (though he would've made mine). And there we are, at the end of the article. A challenge.

What can i say, when I read Forester and Vidal I didn't know they were gay. I didn't know what country they were from, or what their favourite food was. These things can affect what meaning you read into a novel but they aren't the be all and end all. The novel's are great because of the author, not because of the author's sexuality or race or favourite kind of sandwich.
 

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 10, 2012 - 5:59pm

I read Forrester in college.

Still, I can't believe you've forgotten Wilde and even Shakespeare (whom the jury keeps flip-flopping on).

Also, check out Wallace Thurman; a blacker Wilde.

 

As a side note; Wilde is my favorite author and I happen to be straight. So...maybe we're not all homophobic d-bags like you think we are. ;) (Yup. Winky emoticon. That's how this is happening.)

Boone Spaulding's picture
Boone Spaulding from Coldwater, Michigan, U.S.A. is reading Solarcide Presents: Nova Parade May 10, 2012 - 7:11pm

I consider myself only semi-literate now, thank you very much Mr. Sikov...only have read Baldwin's from this list (and Naked Lunch)...great list - did not know that major missing plot point from The Lost Weekend.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 10, 2012 - 7:56pm

Is it just me, or does it seem like some of the questions raised in the comments would have answered if the commenters had bothered to read the article? What's up with that?

anniekoconnor's picture
anniekoconnor from PNW is reading Brideshead Revisited May 10, 2012 - 8:12pm

I only count nine books with blurbs. Yes, I'm neurotic and I count things. I think you meant to include The Arrow's Flight, but you've not got a blurb for it, so I have a confusion.

I'm also uncertain what you mean by "Gay Men's Fiction" - fiction written by gay men, or about gay men, or both or either?

Is there really a section to book stores specifically labeled GLBT lit? I've not seen one, but that would be why it's so hard to find any in the fiction/lit section. I've seen Hollinghurst in the fic/lit section of places, though.

OK, now that I've got my neuroses out of the way, I'll add some books that are on my own list, since I've read none of these:

At Swim, Two Boys: A great story of young love and repressed sexuality; it has the depressive effect of a dreary winter with constant grey cloudcover and wet sidewalks. Sometimes funny, sometimes sweet, always stunning. There is a strong comparison throughout the novel between the struggle for Irish independence and the struggle of gay men to find liberation from an oppressive society (set in 1915/16).

Brideshead Revisited: Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte have a "Romantic English friendship" and  Charles remarks that Sebastian was the forerunner to his wife, making clear that there is special meaning in the phrase to be understood. Their relationship is otherwise never dealt with in romantic or sexual terms, but their love and intimacy is clear and beautifully potrayed. Waugh's prose wraps around your shoulders like a warm blanket on a cold night.

I look forward to getting my hands on some of these; I'm always on the lookout.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 10, 2012 - 10:42pm

This is a great article. I remember Giovanni's Room very vividly partly because of my edition's cover — really really tacky, and not appropriate to the seriousness of the book.

Also, a lot of these comments confuse me in a not-erotic-and-therefore-not-enjoyable kind of way...

Jack Dillenger's picture
Jack Dillenger May 10, 2012 - 10:47pm

Author why did you spoil 'The City and the Pillar', for me?

Jack Dillenger's picture
Jack Dillenger May 10, 2012 - 10:53pm

and all the other books, why do you hate people who read your articles? I was going to read one of these books, until i read all the endings.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing May 11, 2012 - 4:16am

Well, I was all ready to respond, but I think I'm going to keep my mouth (mostly) shut for a little while and see if this goes on first.

I do agree with Rob - a lot of these comments seem to have been written without the benefit of reading the piece itself. Try reading the damn thing before dismissing it, dumbasses. It makes you look really stoopid.

--Ed

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 11, 2012 - 7:26am

I'm sure we did read it. You clealy stated that we were allowed to skip the article completely and just tell you of the books you didn't include. It's right there, bright as day. So, that's what we've been doing.

 

But, again, good question by Annie; are these books about gay men, written by gay men or some combination thereof?

 

Regardless, I feel it's a disservice to the list to not have included "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Written by a gay man who was later persecuted, HEAVILY, jailed and bankrupted by a story that has heavy homosexual innuendos scattered throughout it's beautiful language. 

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 11, 2012 - 9:44am

Are you sure that everyone here read this, Wayne? 

Why are people complaining that the list doesn't include lesbian lit, when Ed very specifically said the list wouldn't include it? 

And why are people clamoring for other gay authors to have been included, when the list is very clearly about gay-themed work, and not just a list of gay authors? 

And, on a grand scale of the gay experience in literature, is it really a "disservice" to not include The Picture of Dorian Gray? That's a pretty strong assertion. You'd think it's the gold standard of gay literature, then. Which I don't believe it is. 

Sorry, I'm just confused, is all.

EDIT: Because, I should add, your argument that the author allows the readers to skip it is sort of ridiculous, because the questions being asked are answered before that. 

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 11, 2012 - 9:51am

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel out of many written by gay men in the last 100-odd years. It's not a "gay book" in any very obvious way, in any case.

Also, Wayne, asking why this list doesn't include "Shakespeare" is... well... I don't know if I can even say it.

Again, good article. Shame about a couple of the kneejerk bullshit responses.

 

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 11, 2012 - 10:01am

Fair enought, Rob. I was making an attempt at humor but I failed that... Live and learn, I suppose.

 

I think it really goes back to the question that Annie asked earlier which is; Is this list about gay authors, authors who have gay characters or a mixture of the both?

 

And, yes, I do think it's a disservice to not include Wilde's "Gray" in this. Wilde was a wildly tormented man who did the best he could to hide his true self behind a facade of fancy dress and snide remarks because to do otherwise, to be Oscar Wilde, was a crime. A crime that he was imprisoned for after this book was published because he was able to put so much of himself into each of the three main characters; each one representing a different aspect of himself. Of the ten authors listed; how many were bankrupted, stripped of any and all achievments that they've earned and imprisoned only to be released near the end of their life and die, penniless and in squalor?

 

Yes, I like Wilde. Yes, I think he is one of the best writers to have ever lived. And, yes, I realize you were just giving me your opinion on Wilde's work, which I respect, as I am giving you mine.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading May 11, 2012 - 10:05am

And, yes, I do think it's a disservice to not include Wilde's "Gray" in this. Wilde was a wildly tormented man who did the best he could to hide his true self behind a facade of fancy dress and snide remarks because to do otherwise, to be Oscar Wilde, was a crime. A crime that he was imprisoned for after this book was published because he was able to put so much of himself into each of the three main characters; each one representing a different aspect of himself. Of the ten authors listed; how many were bankrupted, stripped of any and all achievments that they've earned and imprisoned only to be released near the end of their life and die, penniless and in squalor?

But this isn't, as far as I can tell, an article on how horribly sad some people's lives were.

It's such a weird complaint: "YOU DIDN'T INCLUDE THE BOOKS I WOULD HAVE INCLUDED!" So what? Everyone has read Dorian Gray. What's the point in having it in here? To reassert its canonical status?

 

 

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 11, 2012 - 10:08am

@Fylh - Shakespeare, yeah...it's pushing it. But, he has sonnets written to a man..err...boy? Maybe Shakespeare wasn't 100% homosexual but, he wasn't 100% heterosexual, either. 

 

And, are you telling me that Basil Hallward isn't obvious?

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 11, 2012 - 10:11am

After you’ve read the list – or maybe you could just skip the list – tell me off. Inform me that I’ve missed the boat: I’m too old; youth today are post-gay; labels don’t matter, and all that self-serving, blinders-on bullshit. Remind me of the books I’ve forgotten or teach me the ones I don't know. I started this fight. Wanna make something of it? No shirts, no shoes, but most of all, no shirts. Fighting is so much hotter without shirts.

 

That's the point. I made my case for another book (a book that not EVERYONE has read). Simple as that.

John Barron's picture
John Barron May 11, 2012 - 10:12am

anyone read Horse Crazy by Gary Indiana? The only "gay" book I've read. Twas great.

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 11, 2012 - 10:18am

This is getting ridiculous--and it's unfair to the author, and to the work he put into the column. 

Ed, thanks again for this list. Years ago, when I first caught the writing bug, I wrote to an author I admire and asked for writing advice. One of the things he told me was to read outside my comfort zone; if I was white, read black authors, and if I was straight, read gay authors.

This is an insightful list, and I think a good tool for anyone who is seriously considering a career in writing. Though, I do hope someone picks up the ball and runs with a lesbian-themed list. That would be nice to read, too. 

John, I have not read Horse Crazy. It looks interesting. Thanks for the thoughtful suggestion.

Nathalie Boisard-Beudin_2's picture
Nathalie Boisar... May 11, 2012 - 10:50am

Wilde's Teleny?

Genet?

 

 

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing May 11, 2012 - 10:53am

"it's unfair to the author, and to the work he put into the column."

Thanks for the defense, Rob, but I'm having a blast!

--Ed

Wayne Rutherford's picture
Wayne Rutherford from Columbus, Ohio is reading NOS4A2 May 11, 2012 - 11:09am

Hopefully, no one blows a gasket with this one but;

"The Garden of Eden" by Hemmingway
There are some interesting things going on in that book that people wouldn't expect out of Hemmingway. maybe someone had a secret?

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 11, 2012 - 11:22am

Here's something fun: my original header for this piece. Decided against it because, even though it pertains to one of Ed's jokes, it really didn't represent the column as a whole. I don't see anyone complaining that these aren't on the list.


edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing May 11, 2012 - 11:27am

The pink hardhat really makes it.

--Ed

Rob's picture
Class Director
Rob from New York City is reading at a fast enough pace it would be cumbersome to update this May 11, 2012 - 11:40am

What's behind the Top 10 symbol?!? 

Joshua Chaplinsky's picture
Joshua Chaplinsky from New York is reading Stories of YOUR Life May 11, 2012 - 11:40am

Wouldn't you like to know.

jennydecki's picture
jennydecki from Chicagoland is reading The Foreigners May 11, 2012 - 11:44am

Thank you. These are now on my to-read list. I didn't read the blurbs, but I read the article up to that point and look forward to someone taking up the torch and writing the other lists of novels in the GLBT alphabet soup that aren't straight-up erotica (no pun intended).

To clarify: I don't read erotica at all. So my gripe is based on my book prudishness, not being against "other" sex than what I'm used to. Of course one of my favorite books is American Psycho so....yeah, I guess horror porn with a point is ok.

Just disregard everything after thank you.

Robert Patrick's picture
Robert Patrick May 11, 2012 - 1:44pm

I had so hoped to add to this list when I published "Temple Slave." I guess that's not to be...http://www.lulu.com/shop/robert-patrick/temple-slave/paperback/product-14710156.html

 

Americantypo's picture
Americantypo from Philadelphia is reading The Bone Clocks May 12, 2012 - 5:52am

Where the FUCK is Clive Barker?

Shirt and pants come off.

 

 

Totally joking by the way. I don't think Barker or Palahniuk or Cooper belong on a top ten list. In fact all three have written stuff I've loved and stuff I absolutely hated.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing May 13, 2012 - 3:18pm

This response thread seems to have played itself out, so I may as well write my thoughts. First, I have to say I expected a higher level of – um, there is no other word – discourse. The whole thing boiled down to a few (in my opinion) low-grade responses:


1. I didn’t include a book you read, so I must be a moron. To which I say, how about the ones I did  include? Your utter dismissal of them proves my point.
2. Oscar Wilde wrote precisely one novel; most of us read it in high school. I saw no reason to include The Picture of Dorian Gray in a column of classic gay men’s lit. I stand by that decision. Gay “innuendo” is not how I’d describe Wilde’s wit anyway.
3. I state explicitly that I’m only dealing with gay men’s lit, so the objections that I don’t deal with lesbian lit are idiotic and expose the post-writers to ridicule. Read the fucking thing before complaining.
4. The complaint about my revealing the endings of novels is semi-legit, but really – “finding out what happens in the end” is hardly the point of reading books past the age of 15. It’s like refusing to read the Gospels ‘cause you know how it ends. Jesus dies and gets resurrected. Oh, well – so much for that book. Let’s forget entirely about history then, too. The North won????? The Nazis lost????? So much for histories. Guess what? Hitler dies in the end.

I wrote this column deliberately to provoke. I did, but all I ended up provoking was silliness. Fun silliness for me, but I was still disappointed that nobody questioned the premise; nobody told me they had  read most or even some of the books, and aside for providing amusement for me on a personal level, I only got one challenge to fight shirtless. Come to NYC, guy, and we’ll do it on my floor.

--Ed

Courtney's picture
Courtney from the Midwest is reading Monkey: A Journey to the West and a thousand college textbooks August 11, 2012 - 1:57pm

Ed,

While defending your latest column, you referred to this one and said

The outrage was much the same: “How dare he question my liberalism even though I’ve never heard of any of these books?"

Where did that happen in these comments? In the ones where people complained that you neglected their favorite author? In the ones where people bitched that you didn't include lesbian lit? Or the one that was upset you ruined the ending for them? Is this the response you hoped to provoke and were disappointed you didn't, so you pretended you did anyway for the purposes of defending your other column?

You didn't provoke this response because no one cared enough to point out that agressive insistence upon calling a lack of interest homophobia was ignorant. You did include the note that that particular comment was directed at men, but it's still a general statement.

Your logic is flawed. You're saying that if I don't read an equal amount of "gay" literature, I'm not well-read and I'm a closet homophobe. First of all, your list is composed of almost singularly dramatic fiction which focuses on relationships. If my literature tastes were focused dramatic stories about relationships, sure, I should read these books.

What if I don't give a fuck about romance or tragic relationships? I might prefer horror, noir, absurdist, bizarro, sci-fi, crime, thriller, psychological, slipstream, or non-fiction. So let's say I prefer absurdist -- there's a different standard of "well-read" for that genre. Do you have ten absurdist books with gay undertones for me?

You're not challenging anyone's liberalism by saying we're not well-read. Sure, I support gay marriage, but it's not a hall-mark of my politics. I've read "gay" literature. But the thing is, Ed, I don't care. I focus more on other things and that's why this column -- and your comment quoted above -- are bullshit. You assume that everything is defined by orientation, and that my "liberalism" is defined by my support for gay marriage.

I don't give a fuck about your orientation or mine. I like sex and I'm sure you do, too. How that affects my taste in literature is beyond me.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing August 14, 2012 - 5:57am

Have a nice day.

--Ed

jules1949's picture
jules1949 May 29, 2014 - 7:44am
There are two great gay books I have read by the same author. One is called MAGIC LOBSTERS AND FLYING TAGINES which I bought on Amazon and the other was THE HELLESPONT which I kindled. Jules.
jules1949's picture
jules1949 May 29, 2014 - 7:47am

Apart from J.P.Whaley's books, surely the best gay book of all time is QUERELLE DE BREST by Jean Genet!

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing May 30, 2014 - 7:00am

I'm sorry I left out Genet. And btw Brad Davis was very hot in the movie.

--Ed

pimpernel's picture
pimpernel June 5, 2014 - 5:29am

Wow! One of my top-five favorite writers, Yukio Mishima (three times nominated for Nobel prizes)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima

wrote two gay-themed books that I can recall, a novel called Confessions of a Mask (1949)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confessions_of_a_Mask

and Forbidden Colors (1951)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forbidden_Colors

He was married but a body-builder and radical right-winger who committed ritual suicide in 1970 at age 45 - not because he was gay, but during a protest intended to inspire a coup d'état to restore the power of the Japanese emperor! (He loved him some samurai.)

leonmuller's picture
leonmuller August 19, 2014 - 9:16pm

'Dancer from the Dance' by Andrew Holleran

.."Holleran’s name is actually Eric Garber; he reportedly wrote under a pseudonym to hide his sexual orientation from his mother. This pathetic detail shouldn’t undermine the author’s fine work..."

What do you know of the circumstances of this author's family and life? Who are you to judge his decision in this matter. Pathetic! Really? Get you, sitting on your Liberated Unicorn being judge and jury.

edsikov's picture
edsikov from New York by way of Natrona Hts PA is reading absolutely nothing August 20, 2014 - 6:38am

Hiding one's sexuality from Mother is pathetic. It's not adult behavior. I stand by my comment.

--Ed 

Mister in pink suiy's picture
Mister in pink suiy March 20, 2015 - 7:13am

Hi Friends,

First of all, I honestly didn't know that there are several good books out there avaiable for our own pleasure and appreciation, book that we can relate, too. I always see a lot of books with gay genre associated with erotica. I'm glad that's not always the case.

Anyway, a friend of mine self-published a book, a story of a man with special characterisric vying to attain love for the first and probably the last time including the trials he needs to experience--judgmental eyes and tactless words--just to get something a normal person can effortlessly get. It's our story that we can relate to. It's titled as "When Love Meets a Man," available on Amazon on April 10. But you can preorder now.

I hope you can support him. By the way, the book does not sell sex or temporary pleasure, rather, it serves as an eye opener. A book that can hopefully help us be understood better.

I hope you will have the to read it.

Dan Oneill's picture
Dan Oneill October 29, 2016 - 8:46pm

Maurice was a wonderul novel,romantic,and erotic ,with a happy ending. It was also an excellent movie.Vidal was wildly overrated as a fiction writer.He was a first rate wit and essayist,but his gay novels are an embarrasment.And what about Genet?Certainly he is the one of the pioneers of gay fiction.