cover image The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories

The Penguin Book of Gay Short Stories

David Leavitt, Various. Viking Books, $27.5 (688pp) ISBN 978-0-670-85468-4

In this provocative, wonderfully varied anthology, a formidable array of talents--gay and straight, men and women--investigate the experience of love between men, the individualistic complexity of gay male identity and gay men's relationships with lovers, friends and family. Highlights include Graham Greene's story about a newly wed but secretly gay man on a Mediterranean honeymoon with his wife, William Trevor's tale of hypocrisy at an English boys' school and works by Larry Kramer, Edmund White, Christopher Coe, Allan Gurganus, Ann Beattie, Edna O'Brien, D. H. Lawrence, Noel Coward, Sherwood Anderson and E. M. Forster. A third of the 39 selections appear here for the first time, alongside familiar pieces such as J. R. Ackerley's unsparingly candid account of his sex life and John Cheever's portrayal of love in prison from the novel Falconer . Several pieces may startle or provoke, such as Stephen Greco's raw, defiant dream-memory of the gay scene before AIDS; A. M. Holmes's graphically explicit romp involving two schoolmates in a bathtub; and James Kirkup's story of an American college teacher in Japan who goes to bed with one of his students. The tragedy of AIDS and its emotional and social impact are movingly depicted in stories by Peter Wells, Michael Cunningham, co-editor Leavitt and, one of its victims, the late Allen Barnett. (Jan.)