HOMETOWNS by John Preston


Gay Men Write About Where They Belong
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 Nostalgia and dissociation are the main themes in this not-so- diverse collection of essays by gay men who either had to leave their old communities or have adopted new ones. Twenty-seven gay male writers (editor Preston, Mark Thompson, Christopher Wittkes, and Andrew Holleran among them) from such varied areas as New Mexico, Nova Scotia, Key West, and Greenwich Village discuss the need ``of being supported and of belonging'' in safe locales. Most of them share a nagging dissonance between self- styled urbanity and a longing for their folksy family origins. These are the viewpoints of people so alienated and displaced that physical geography often takes a backseat to ``a territory of dreams''--an intellectual ghetto erected by men constantly forced to redefine and analyze who and where they are. The local color of the various towns is, therefore, irrelevant amid such gay global- village semiotics as mail-order porno, seaside cottages, tea dances, glory holes, brunches, and Judy Garland, all of which are recurrent motifs. Preston (ed., Personal Dispatches: Writers Confront AIDS) has included numerous pieces in which the ``Anglo'' culture of suburbia, malls, and picket fences is trashed--e.g., Thompson's ``meat loaf and mashed potatoes'' upbringing in Carmel, Cal.; Wittkes's ``boring suburbia'' of Manchester, Conn.; and the ``old mills and shade trees'' of George S. Snyder's Methodist roots in northeast Pennsylvania. Only Jesse Monteagudo's piece seriously addresses how ethnic minority communities can be equally homophobic. But despite the lack of any true intellectual variety, the book reveals how the imposed melancholia these gay men suffer can be a blessing in disguise since it enables them to perfect Proustian narratives in which the mind can override the limitations of place. Those already familiar with gay testimonial journalism will probably find few surprises here; still, a valuable foray into the art of ``emotional geography.''

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 1991
ISBN: 0-525-93353-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1991


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