Book Reviews Solicited through Billy Glover
These reviews have been written by Alan Harris.
I highly recommend "The Year of Ice" by Brian Malloy. It is a coming-of-age novel rather than a "coming-out" novel, even though the protagonist is is a gay 18 year old boy. It takes place in Minnesota-St. Paul in the year 1978. It takes place within the larger context of the boy's family And his being gay is the least of his problems, except for being able to have the boy he has always wanted. Mostly, it deals with his relationship with his father, his aunt, and his father's female suitors, and his obsession with his mother's death in a car accident several years before and whether it was a suicide or not due to the father's philandering. It is a very easy read, and is filled with acerbic humor of the type that Irish or Irish-American authors seem capable of. Highly recommended. Published in 2002.
I also read "Queer Burroughs" by Jamie Russell.published in 2001. This is interesting, though not as easy a read as the item reviewed above. It purports to analyze the text of William Borroughs's novels, starting with the "Naked Lunch" and proceeding to the "Wild Boys" trilogy and the "Cities of the Red Night" tetralogy (I think). In his earlies works, he says Burroughs is obsessed with the gay character's oscillation between the society's definition of what a gay man is like, and his own male identity. In the later works, he portrays gays becoming militant and trying to form all-male societies, free of both women and effeminate men. His attitude to sexuality itself seems ambivalent, seem he never depicts gay sex as pleasurable in itself, but always allocated with violence or addition. His thinking, of course, was influenced by the gay rights movement after 1969, but his crazy-seeming ideas alienated the gay movement, and they much prefer to hail Allen Ginsberg rather than him as one of their modern icons. The book is not too difficult to read, and is certainly easier than Burroughs texts themselves. Burroughs died in 1997.
I also read "Homosexuality and Civilization" by Louis Crompton which is another landmark historical and cultural survey of the subject. It is quite good, although it begins with Ancient Greece and only proceeds as far as the 18th Century enlightenment in Europe. It thus omits pre-classical civilization in Egypt and the Near East, and the more modern period starting with the 19th century. It has a pretty detailed bibliography and some interesting illustrations.It is definitely worh a read. I also hit a bullseye when I located "Homophobia": a history by Byren Fone, published in 2000, in the Out-of-the-closet bookstore. It,too,is a detailed historical survey since the history of homophobia is also tantamound to a history of homosexuality. I have not read it yet, but will report on it in time.
More reviews in the future, hopefully.