The author of several gay-themed stories and novels (Everybody Loves You, 1988, etc.), Mordden collects work by 14 writers, ranging from the highly acclaimed Michael Cunningham (``White Angel'') to the previously unpublished Richard Davis (``Marty''). The editor sets the stage with an excellent overview of gay fiction, from ``the first wave of Stonewall lit''—daring, albeit slightly precious—in the 1970s through the second wave that arrived in the mid-1980s and emphasized ``exploring the family- and-friends background.'' Most stories here are ``third wave'' in nature: ``political, archetypal, experimental.'' These writers, Mordden contends, are more activist and more stylistically inventive. This is certainly true of Jim Provenzano's ``Forty Wild Crushes,'' which takes the form of an elementary school memoir—with hilarious footnotes. But most of the other experiments fail. G. Winston James's ``John,'' a story about a black man in a 42nd Street sex shop, has potential, but it's impossible to follow the narrative as it intertwines past with present. Brad Gooch's ``Satan'' is a deplorably crafted mishmash of sexually explicit S&M imagery, exhibitionism at its worst. If these stories are any indication of where the third wave is headed, there are reasons to prefer its predecessors. The finest pieces here may not harp as insistently as second-wave fiction on the family/friends background, but neither do they present characters popping up out of nowhere. In ``Cruise Control,'' John Edgar Harris sensitively depicts changes in gay sex since the discovery of AIDS, presenting a conversation between the first- person narrator and a man 20 years his senior as they stroll through various Manhattan neighborhoods. Abraham Verghese's ``Lilacs'' tells of a man who's suffered from AIDS for nine years, longer than anyone expected; superbly crafted, this gentle tale suddenly turns into a nightmare. Some good moments, but many of these writers are so self- absorbed that they leave their audience little to relate to.

Pub Date: July 21, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-74477-0

Page Count: 272

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1994

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?


While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

Did you like this book?