On The George Washington Bridge Project: Crime of the Century

24Feb09

In which The Gay Recluse becomes increasingly obsessed with the George Washington Bridge.

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Today we sent out to our millions of followers on Twitter the following tweet:

Q: What post-war (US) novel best reflects the gay experience as BELOVED reflects the Af-Am exper? Me: Holleran/DANCER FROM THE DANCE (You?)

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Nobody answered! We followed it up with another tweet:

Q: Did you ever read a post-war “gay novel” in school outside of an LGBT/Queer class? (If so, which one/s)? Me: No.

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Nobody answered this, either.

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It has been clear to me at many points in my career that if only I would write non-gay books I might have a wider audience, I might be taken seriously in a way I wasn’t.

Andrew Holleran (March 2007)

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6 Responses to “On The George Washington Bridge Project: Crime of the Century”

  1. 1 JW

    I’m not a member of the Twitterati, but good question. I dunno. “Generation X?” I know it’s not explicitly gay (other than one gay kiss, which is treated in a more-or-less platonic way). But, something about the Dag/Andy dynamic led me to believe Douglas Coupland was talking about the post. I re-read it a few years later and I think the theory holds its own. It had that “Now what?” feeling I had after coming out: the characters all basically declared themselves separate from the rest of society, but didn’t quite know what to do with themselves. I’ll think more on it. (The easy answer would be “The Line of Beauty” but I’m dodging the easy answer.)

  2. 2 Atherton Bartelby

    Firstly, LOL @ “millions of followers on Twitter.”

    Secondly, I apologize for not seeing these tweets today and starting a discussion on Twitter; clearly you must have tweeted during my Gnostic Bible Study Hour, and of course now everyone on Twitter is too busy with post-Obama-speech pontifications to worry about answering homo lit questions.

    Thirdly, I think you raised some important points, ones I would like to read more people’s thoughts on. I adore Beloved, but as I normally do not gravitate toward gay-themed lit I am quite hard-pressed to answer both of your questions, as well. (Aside from pulling your usual Edmund White title out of a hat, but doesn’t everyone do that?) The nearest I could come to answering you would be Neil Bartlett’s Ready To Catch Him Should He Fall, but then I remembered that this is, in fact, not American.

    I think I feel a kinship with Holleran, but from the perspective of a gay reader, if that makes sense.

  3. The lack of comments is interesting. But since I don’t “twit,” I can’t take part there. While I didn’t much care for Faggots by Larry Kramer when it first appeared (same time as Holleran’s D from the D, actually), I think it should be included here — not as the best, but a novel worth mentioning. It’s much darker and angrier than Holleran’s (well, it’s Kramer, right?).

  4. 4 orinink

    mr holleran,
    you have a voice and it is not”gay”it is human,i dont think “beloved” expresses the full af-american experience it is one aspect of the af-american experience…so it is hard to think along this line.I do believe that edmund wilson’s “a boy’s own story”is mandatory
    but once again one aspect..and also not fiction is it?Audre lorde’s Zami…also non-fiction is a classic.Sounds like it comes down to armistead maupin and james baldwin…then theres samuel delany’s sci fi experiences and of course gore’s “the city and the pillar”.I would stake my bet on gore vidal,because it is fiction and it is not apologizing for being gay.Oh and if master p can make a career out of selling cd’s from the back of his ride,you can reach the masses…
    so just keep hollerin

  5. 5 ephemerist

    I meant to reply via the Twitter machine, but! I am actually kinda stumped. I mean, to answer the second query: no. Did not read anything in school. As to the first, what best reflects? I mean, if you want something sort of catch-all, then anything I guess that deals with “coming out” — as that is I suppose the “universal” commonality of gay life? Assuming one does do so. But to pick one that best reflects a diverse community? I dunno. Dancer From the Dance is excellent. I suppose The Front Runner was what, sort of an insta-classic when it came out in the ’70s? But very of that moment. I enjoyed Dale Peck’s Martin and John. There’s Edmund White’s A Boy’s Own Story. Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar. Recently, Alan Hollinghurst’s The Swimming Pool Library and The Line of Beauty — which I discovered via the BBC teevee mini-series, and which is sort of a Thatcher Era Brideshead Revisited — come to mind. I’m sort of reticent to even mention Tom Dolby’s The Trouble Boy. It’s pop and fun I guess, in a geigh Bright Lights, Big City way. I’ll end this epic comment with the embarrassing (maybe?) admission that in high school, I just wanted to be Michael “Mouse” Tolliver from Tales of the City, living with a lude-loving fag hag and having a transgendered landlady who taped joints to the door. But then, who wouldn’t?

  6. 6 c.

    Beautiful blue sky.

    Perhaps Twitter is not the best place to begin a literary investigation?

    You would know better than I. ;)

    Previous commenters have remarked on the ambiguity of trying to pick “the” gay novel, which describes “the” gay experience; or, “the” gay novel which is to gay life as “Beloved” is to African American life. I have no idea, although I will agree that “Dancer” is a kind of “Gone With the Wind” of the post-Stonewall experience. (As is the lesser and obscure “Some Dance to Remember,” by Jack Fritscher.)

    But: I found Christopher Bram’s “Surprising Myself” quite resonant, even if I wasn’t having exactly the protagonist’s experience at the time. (Perhaps reading it while on vacation in Paris in 1988 contributed to its emotional heft.) More substantially, “Becoming a Man,” by Paul Monette, bears witness to struggles of the closet, internal and external homophobia, and life and death during the plague (AIDS) years. (An era which, at least for some of us, is as elemental in the gay experience as unobtainable shirtless men on a dance floor.)

    As for gay lit and school: good one. (Does the “Glass Menagerie” count? [High school English.]) Do the kids have exposure to such things, nowadays?

    The question of Holleran’s greater success if he wrote for a non-gay audience is a little academic. Would his work be as potent, if he were not writing from the depths of his own experience? Is the fact of a homophobic or racist culture supposed to change an artist’s output? Or vice-versa? Holleran probably could have sold more books to women, too, if he’d written about beauty and make-up. Fortunately, he didn’t.


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