A sentimental, somber coming-out-of-the-closet book--starring fortyish Haakon ""Hawk"" Hvitfeldt, who returns to be a full professor of history at Columbia after affirming his masculinity and witnessing the usual horrors as a WW II G.I. Waiting for him in N.Y. is lover Simon the photographer--promiscuous, outrageous, ""too beautiful to be quite real,"" and more interested in sodomy than is oral-oriented Haakon. And following Hawk is his wartime student Dan, a teenage tender toughie with a rough face and ""a body worth dreaming about,"" and maybe a latent homosexual. So: exit Simon, enter not-so-latent Dan. But Haakon has gotten careless about concealing his forbidden (this is 1947) domestic arrangements and finds himself being quasi-blackmailed by colleagues and students. Is bisexuality a possible solution? Wholesome Ellen believes Hawk is ""AC-DC maybe, but not one hundred percent homosexual,"" and indeed Hawk proves potent with both Ellen and the dean's wife--which also leads to new possibilities for him and Simon, who has returned to replace Dan, whom Hawk has selflessly sent away (""We have to stop sleeping together. It's not good for you. . .""). It takes Simon's elegantly suffered death, from cancer of the rectum, to give Hawk the guts to face his true self and write a tract on the persecution of homosexuals. Compared to most other decloseting odysseys, Griffin's is literate, nonhysterical, and fairly tasteful even while being graphic. However, like the cruder works in the genre, it is drenched in narcissism, endless talk, skin-deep characterizations and attractions, and a tone that is one part petulant, one part self-righteous, one part defensive, and all parts banal.