cover image The Man on the Third Floor

The Man on the Third Floor

Anne Bernays. Permanent, $26 (184p) ISBN 978-1-57962-285-5

In her 10th novel (after Short Pleasures), Bernays deftly articulates the difficulties faced by homosexuals during the McCarthy witch-hunt years. Walter Samson is a senior editor at Griffin House, a respected Manhattan publisher, where he discovers the right-wing “cash cow” author Edgar Fleming. Walter also meets Barry Rogers, a carpet-layer who, like Walter, is a closeted homosexual, and Walter soon persuades Barry to accept a position as handyman and chauffeur for the Samsons and to move into their home. Sheltered under one roof, the duo covertly indulge one another’s sexual appetites, and while Walter confesses that Barry is “the deepest, most satisfying love of my life,” he also fears losing his social standing and family. Walter’s daughter grows wise to her father’s exploits, followed by their blackmailing cook. After hearing word of Communist sympathizers in Griffin’s employ, Edgar abandons his publisher in a huff, and Walter’s “snake pit” deepens after a reporter exposes his affair. Bernays explores a dramatic era in American history and the psyches of her characters with equal ease in this well-written and entertaining new novel. Agent: Robert Guinsler, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)