cover image Surprising Myself

Surprising Myself

Christopher Bram. Dutton Books, $17.95 (424pp) ISBN 978-1-55611-007-8

A fresh tone, exuberance and light-handed humor mark this first novel about a homosexual's coming of age in Manhattan. We meet Joel Scherzenlieb at Boy Scout camp, where his CIA agent father has left him to work as a counselor for the summer. Joel doesn't yet know the nature of his sexuality, nor does he find out at camp, since his father soon whisks him off to live at his mother's farm in Virginia. With no money for college, Joel works the farm with his mother, maternal grandmother and sister Liza. Later, he runs into Corey, his only friend from camp days; finding their way to bed, they begin the relationship that's the heart of the book. At the same time, Liza is pursued by another former counselor, Bob. Eventually, Joel and Corey move to New York, where Joel begins to cruise the Village gay bars. One night Liza, who has left Bob, appears at their apartment with her baby; she turns to Joel and Corey for help and to confirm her belief in stable relationships. An irate Bob soon follows, precipitating the story's funny, riveting resolution, involving blackmail, issues of loyalty and considerable conversation about the nature and lastingness of love. Bram's novel is candid (often explicit), wise, humorous and affirmative, with compelling characters who are engagingly human first, and only then straight or gay. First serial to Christopher Street; paperback rights to Holt/Owl; major ad/promo; author tour. (May)