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Growing up homosexual in the Bronx, circa 1968: a slight first novel with an uneasy blend of graphic sex, a faux-naif Y A tone, and gay-pride preachiness. The hero is 16-year-old Billy Conners, whose narration features both prole-fiction mannerisms (three ""sort ors"" in four sentences, double-negatives) and cutesy Norms Klein-isms: ""I used to jerk off all the time to guys, as I probably already mentioned. I mean, I still do. But I always used to wonder if I would ever actually have sex with anyone--a guy, I mean."" For a while Billy pals around with his macho high-school pals, even going on dates with demurely lustful, disappointed Sue. (""I wanted to tell her. . . that I didn't want to feel up ANY tits and I didn't want to make out with ANY girl and I thought cunts were GROSS. . . ."") Then, however, he meets older Al DiCicco, who's organizing the pathetic local Gene McCarthy campaign. Smitten, Billy volunteers to work on the campaign. Al returns Billy's yearnings. (""I went inside sort of tripping over myself realizing what it was like to really KISS."") Confused, he asks advice from his gym teacher--who suggests psychotherapy, to Billy's annoyance: ""I didn't mean what to do about getting 'cured'. . . I meant what to do specifically, with Al, like how to suck a cock. . ."" Still, even without guidance, Billy gets a full, clinically detailed sexual initiation from Al. But, unlike the implausibly guilt-free, liberated Billy, Al has social fears and psychological hangups about gayness. (""I think he thought that getting fucked up the ass meant GETTING FUCKED UP THE ASS, if you see what I mean."") So Billy winds up Al-less and disillusioned: ""I don't hate him now. But I think I hate the whole world--except certain people in it."" Occasionally sharp in its place/time specifics, but otherwise a juvenile debut--both punkily narcissistic and sloppily sentimental.

Pub Date: June 27th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's