cover image Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

Christopher Bram. Hachette/Twelve, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-446-56313-0

This select series of profiles and literary analyses by the author of Gods and Monsters (turned into an Oscar-winning film) explores with brio the gay temper in American literature, from 1948 to 2000. Segmenting his book into five parts, by decade, Bram concentrates on the giants among them: Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Edward Albee, James Merrill, Larry Kramer, Tony Kushner, and, above all Edmund White (the “central figure” for his generation, as Vidal had been for an earlier one). We’re treated to their successes as well as to the juicy rivalries that sometimes marked their careers. Bram doesn’t indulge in canon formation. In fact, he only mentions Henry James, Willa Cather (one of the few women of this book on a male tradition), Hart Crane, and Thornton Wilder in passing. Rather, Bram succeeds in integrating the politics and culture of homosexuality from the postwar period through McCarthyism and Stonewall to the decimating specter of AIDS and a healthy new liberation. Storytelling, Bram says, was central to the gay revolution. “And why not?... what is homosexuality but a special narrative of love?” Unified by the keen observations of a novelist working in the tradition that re-energized American letters, Bram successfully informs and entertains. Agent: Edward Hibbert. (Feb. 2)