A smart, heartfelt set of tales of gay men’s lives.

WHY DIDN’T SOMEONE WARN YOU ABOUT PRINCE CHARMING?

Currier (Until My Heart Stops, 2015, etc.) offers a collection of short stories about heartbreaks and humorous mistakes.

In “Lancelot’s Secret,” a college student takes an internship with a traveling production of Camelot, forcing him to contend with secret feelings of same-sex attraction. A man accompanies a friend who’s husband-hunting in the Hamptons and ends up meeting some men himself in “Sometimes You Have to Settle for Popeye (Even Though You’d Rather Play with Bluto).” “Elvis at Three is an Angel to Me” tells the tale of a man who suffers a complicated, unrequited crush on his roommate, who may be HIV-positive. In these 12 stories, Currier probes the possibilities and pitfalls of gay relationships, from adolescent first loves to middle-age what-might-have-beens. In the title story, a 63-year-old man, clicking through old boyfriends’ social media profiles, receives a shocking revelation about a fling he had 35 years ago: “You were never supposed to reach sixty,” the story begins, referring to the protagonist. “You survived a premature birth, the AIDS decades, the Y2K bug, 9/11, four hurricanes, three broken ribs, and two heart attacks. You don’t know whether to feel grateful or cursed.” The stories tend to focus on similar characters—often, expatriate Southerners looking for love in New York City and its environs. Currier varies the points of view, however, and even experiments with structure, as in “How to Obtain an Alfred Hitchcock Physique (and Bonus Dark Psyche),” which he formats as a numbered how-to list. His prose is plainspoken and often funny, although it also contains moments of understated emotion, as when a man describes his work with AIDS patients: “I used to be a ‘buddy’ to a guy who lived on the Upper East Side, which meant riding the subway for hours to take him to doctor appointments and buy his groceries. He was the third buddy in a row that I lost so I am taking a break until I am ready to have another buddy.” Cumulatively, the stories offer a warm, slightly melancholic view of people in and out of love.

A smart, heartfelt set of tales of gay men’s lives.

Pub Date: Oct. 16, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-937627-36-2

Page Count: 182

Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions

Review Posted Online: Oct. 1, 2019

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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