Tag Archives: Gay men

Look What’s New in the Warner Library!

Warner Library serves Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. There’s a big browsing section of what new books the library bought.

Rakoff-Love Dishonor Marry Die Cherish Perish (2014-01-12 003)Title: Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: a Novel

Author: David Rakoff [illustrations by Seth]

Publication Information: New York: Doubleday, c2013 (1st ed.)

ISBN: 978-0-385-53521-2

Library of Congress Classification: PS3618.A436

Dewey Decimal Classification: 813.6

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Men—United States—Social conditions—20th century—Fiction
Women—Social conditions—20th century—Fiction
Gay men—Social conditions—20th century—Fiction
Man-woman relationships—United States—Fiction
Sexually abused children—United States—Fiction

This is a very cleverly-written series of short stories. Two of the chapters were originally broadcast on NPR’s This American Life. And that’s what these stories are about: living in America, an  America from the past, the late 1930s through the 1960s. The stories are written in verse, and I’ve always found it interesting to see how authors rhyme the sentences. I remember in eighth grade, Sister Camilla Mary making the class write one poem, composition and book report every month. The poems were the hardest (it took me a while to fully understand what is a composition), and these poems only  had to be eight lines.

Each chapter stands on its own, but there are links between each story that are revealed as you read. For example, the twelve-year-old who is raped by her step-father in the first story, flees and is kept warm in a frigid railway car by a man in a warm coat. In the next chapter we find out that he’s the father of the main character in the next story. He remembers seeing her freezing and, feeling sorry for her, wrapped her in his arms–he was in a big winter coat–and sang Yiddish songs to her before she fell asleep.

We have Denise, the self-center, pretentious young woman who detests her boyfriend Nathan, who never lets anything bother him. So while they are on vacation with Nathan’s friend Josh, Denise decides to seduce Josh. In a later story, Nathan is the main character in the story and he is has been asked to deliver a toast at Denise and Josh’s wedding. Then there’s Clifford, who discovers he’s gay when he’s in an art class and faints when he sees his first naked man; his cousin, who remembers that Clifford once drew her partially nude and it was the perfect day in her life; and we have Josh, who is now much older and alone, reflecting back on his past–and what he did to Nathan.

There’s sadness here, but also a lot of truth. It’s well-written and very entertaining. The pictures by Seth are powerful, and fit the characters that they portray. Sadly, there will be no further books from Rakoff, who died shortly after finishing the book.

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Matthew Rettenmund, Blind Items: a (Love) Story

2014-01-17 001Title: Blind Items: a (Love) Story

Author: Matthew Rettenmund

Publication Information: New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2000, c1998

ISBN: 0-312-26295-7 (978-0312-2629-52)

Library of Congress Classification: PS3568.E774

Library of Congress Subject Headings:
Gay men—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Authors—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Gay authors—New York (State)—New York—Fiction
Motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Fiction
Gay motion picture actors and actresses—United States—Fiction

This book was hard to put down. I really liked it.

The protagonist is David Greer, a 32-year-old gay man living in Manhattan and working at a pornography publisher as an editor and writer. He doesn’t like his job, and wants to do “real” writing, but finds his confidence lagging. He is friends with Warren Junior, a gay gossip columnist who writes stories about the stars in the closet, but always using code. His other best friend is Carol Terry, a straight woman who he once made out with when drunk.

David meets the up-and-coming Alan Dillinger, the hot star of the moment who is on the TV-ratings topper Lifesavers (think Baywatch). They meet at a Lifesavers promotion party; the only reason David and Carol can go is because Warren gives David his invitation. David discovers Alan is a closet queen, but none-the-less embarks on a relationship with him. David, out and proud, finds dealing with Alan’s secretive sexual orientation troubling, but Alan assures him that he intends to come out—someday. When that day is, and if Alan comes out or is outed, becomes a theme running throughout the rest of the book.

It’s amazing how much has changed since 1998, when this book was written—15 years ago. There are more out stars, but there are still so many in the closet. Same-sex marriage is now recognized in double-digit state numbers, something that was only beginning in 1998.

Chapters vary perspective and, it turns out, time. David’s chapters are told in the first-person; the rest are told from third person. Anyone who reads about John Dewey, a socially-backward and withdrawn teenager, will probably figure out who he turns out to be, but I didn’t and was surprised by the end of the book.

Maybe the reason I liked this book so much is because the characters were real.