A striking volume of irreverent, Mormon-centric gay tales.

THE LAST DAYS LINGER

In this collection of short stories, gay members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints attempt to survive their sexually conservative religion.

Some devout Mormon men meet on a weekly basis and have sex with one another, though they justify it by claiming that it’s to keep them from behaving inappropriately with their girlfriends before marriage. An excommunicated gay Mormon runs into his old mission companion, who reminds him of an accidental death that occurred during a baptism. A married gay man decides he must overcome his bias by having sex with men from every race. A group of Mormons goes into a gay bar to try to convert the clientele, but things don’t go quite according to plan. In 18 stories, Townsend (Behind the Bishop’s Door, 2017, etc.) places his characters in positions that put their cultural upbringings at odds with the multifaceted realities of human sexuality. A typical example of this friction is found in “Shadow Boxing,” in which a closeted Mormon man gets a job at a video shop where gay men have sex through glory holes specifically to tease himself in order to overcome temptation: “Preston had read somewhere that the great leader Gandhi had slept every night beside naked women so he could test his moral stamina. If Preston were ever to manage marrying a woman in the temple, he had to know he could resist any and all temptation.” Townsend writes in an easy-flowing, frequently funny prose that captures the worldviews and personalities of his characters with minimal words. The tales are of a piece with his previous fictional works (quite numerous now), which rib Mormon and gay culture and make regular use of ridiculous puns (one story is called “MoreMen Tabernacle Queer”). While the author is generally at his best when working as a satirist, there are some fine, understated touches in these tales that will likely affect readers in subtle ways. Not every story lands perfectly, and Townsend sometimes stumbles into uncomfortable territory (see sex with men from every race), but readers should come away impressed by the deep empathy he shows for all his characters—even the homophobic ones.

A striking volume of irreverent, Mormon-centric gay tales.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63492-630-0

Page Count: 242

Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc.

Review Posted Online: April 27, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

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

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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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