FAMILY DANCING: Stories by David Leavitt


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Nearly without exception, Leavitt's stories deal with the contemporary catalyst of a declared homosexual identity in otherwise straight social structures--above all the family. In ""Territory,"" an enlightened mother (who works as a volunteer in a gay-parents-awareness group) doesn't quite find the equanimity she expects from herself--when her son, on a trip home, brings his pleasant-enough lover with him for the first time. A gay son figures prominently, too, in the title story and, as a destabilizing force, in ""The Last Cottage""--about parents breaking up in middle age. In ""Out Here,"" Leavitt's other primary concern--illness and death, how families contract around them--adds some multi-voiced tension to the portrait of a lesbian daughter. But the only story that rises above the one-dimensional formula here is ""Danny in Transit""--about the terrified, incoherent apprehensions of a boy whose parents (father coming out of the closet, mother becoming unhinged) are in the process of divorce. In this piece, with vivid contrast between the small boy and the crippled, selfish adults whirling above him, Leavitt shows strong potential. The rest of the collection, however, offers only chic attitudes, slick surfaces (upper-middle-class comforts, country homes, cordless phones, computer classes), and family-member stereotypes.

Pub Date: Sept. 7th, 1984
Publisher: Knopf