SECOND NATURE by Gordon Glasco

SECOND NATURE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A married man discovers and accepts his homosexuality: it's an old story but suddenly a trendy one--with a hit off-Broadway musical, a forthcoming film, and such books as this earnest but soggy first novel (by a writer who claims that the movie-makers stole Iris idea). Glasco's distraught hero is 39-year-old Los Angeles surgeon Alan Stegman: husband of pregnant Alexis, already father of two, but now the secret lover of hospital technician Brad--who's dying of cancer. And though Alan has viewed this relationship as a just-sex diversion, Brad's death awakens deeper feelings--as does his new, confiding friendship with Stephen Milner, a supremely sane, openly gay psychiatrist: ""Not sexual desire, but something larger and more telling--that feeling of having come to rest."" Alan confesses his bisexuality to Alexis (who's been suspecting Another Woman); she responds with anger and self-castigation, then tries being a motherly confidant; Stephen and Alan become lovers: ""Beyond the physical pleasure, there was the joy of an emotional rest, the unequivocal realization that he had come home."" And, after Alexis gives birth (Alan, in bed with Stephen, misses the Lamaze delivery), she demands that Alan choose, so he gives Stephen up . . . but this separation leads him to bath-house sex, movietheater sex (he's arrested), and the realization that he's homosexual, not bisexual. So finally Alexis (who's had a fling with her hairdresser and is becoming her own woman at last) leaves, refusing a sexless marriage; and Alan confides in his old father Max--who responds with a dubious equation between accepting being born Jewish and accepting being homosexual. Throughout, in fact, the actual nature of Alan's late-blooming sexuality remains fuzzy and sentimentalized (with only the sketchiest references to his psychotherapy); and, with noble-gay Stephen and soap-opera dialogue galore, the novel (despite a few graphic moments) has the launderized feel of a TV-movie. Far inferior, then, to Joseph Hansen's A Smile in His Lifetime, but it's hard-working, well-meaning, and relatively tasteful--with some added, more traditional appeal in the hospital/childbirth medic-drama.

Pub Date: Oct. 30th, 1981
Publisher: St. Martin's