Sentimentalized but generally affecting novel of gay life in San Francisco, pre-AIDS. The narrator (left unnamed) grew up in ""dusty hamlets"" and made his way to college in California, where he majored in anthropology and came out of the closet. As the novel begins in the mid-70's, he's fallen madly in love with Stephen (""He wears red running shorts and lives at the end of the block""), but Stephen, sadly, opts for marriage and the straight life. The narrator is then off to San Francisco's Castro District, where he immerses himself in the gay gym culture, the baths and the sex clubs, seeking ""the fulfillment of yearning."" It comes at last in the form of handsome young Cole; he and the narrator have a passionate love affair--until the narrator finds out that Cole has been sleeping around. The two try for a reconciliation, but by novel's close it has failed to take hold. Slight on plot, but Reed has a keen eye for the ""carnival"" of gay life in San Francisco before AIDS. Unfortunately, though, the book--and Reed's very real talent--are marred by overwriting and cichÃ‰. Thus, Cole's eyes are ""deep pools of mystery."" And simply going out on Sunday nights becomes: ""We refused the counsel of languor and stubbornly pursued Sunday nights in that frantic, last-minute search for pleasure that earned its pursuers the tag 'desperado.'