Gay Fiction Speaks: Conversations with Gay Novelists

Gay Fiction Speaks: Conversations with Gay Novelists

by Richard Canning
     
 

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Today's most celebrated, prominent, and promising authors of gay fiction in English explore the literary influences and themes of their work in these revealing interviews with Richard Canning. Though the interviews touch upon a wide range of issues -- including gay culture, AIDS, politics, art, and activism -- what truly distinguishes them is the extent to which

Overview

Today's most celebrated, prominent, and promising authors of gay fiction in English explore the literary influences and themes of their work in these revealing interviews with Richard Canning. Though the interviews touch upon a wide range of issues -- including gay culture, AIDS, politics, art, and activism -- what truly distinguishes them is the extent to which Canning encourages the authors to reflect on their writing practices, published work, literary forebears, and their writing peers -- gay and straight.

• Edmund White talks about narrative style and the story behind the cover of A Boy's Own Story.

• Armistead Maupin discusses his method of writing and how his work has adapted to television.

• Dennis Cooper thinks about L.A., AIDS, Try, and pop music.

• Alan Hollinghurst considers structure and point of view in The Folding Star, and why The Swimming-Pool Library is exactly 366 pages long.

• David Leavitt muses on the identity of the gay reader -- and the extent to which that readership defined a tradition.

• Andrew Holleran wonders how he might have made The Beauty of Men "more forlorn, romantic, lost" by writing in the first person.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Toward the end of his interview here, David Leavitt abruptly states that asking if "gay literature" exists is the wrong question: "[T]o me the important question is: `Is there such a thing as a gay reader?' That's infinitely more relevant. What's important is whether there are people who seek out books with gay content." This shift in focus gives much of this volume a fresh sense of purpose and meaning. Canning, who teaches American and English literature at Britain's Sheffield University, has produced in-depth interviews with 12 noted gay American and British novelists (John Rechy, Dennis Cooper, Patrick Gale, James Purdy, Edmund White among them). Aside from placing themselves within a social and historical tradition of "gay writing," the featured authors offer little evidence of an innate "sensibility." The pleasure of the interviews comes from Canning's ability to prompt quirky and ingenious responses from his subjects. Often, these include bluntly negative assessments of the works of others, though more commonly they are supportive and incisive, as when Dennis Cooper graciously underplays his enormous influence on other writers, or when Alan Gurganus discusses the place of homosexuality in the tradition of the Southern gothic. Each of the pieces clearly conveys the voice of the writer (James Purdy's idiosyncratic speech is captured beautifully), while as a whole, the book illustrates how these serious artists negotiate the cultural minefields of literary and identity politics in a marketplace that both values and devalues them as "gay." (Feb.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Canning (English and American literature, Sheffield Univ., UK) conducted interviews with 12 of the English language's best-known gay fiction writers. Presented in a delightfully rambling, conversational style, the interviews include Edmund White on the writer's voice, Armistead Maupin on gay identity, David Leavitt on the tradition defined by a gay readership, and John Rechy on the long, often unrecorded history of gay culture. The authors address such topics as AIDS, art, and activism and discuss their own literary influences and writing habits. From time to time, they engage in a little literary gossip. Reminiscent of the Dick Cavett interviews of the 1960s and 1970s, the pieces here offer an intelligent, witty, and thoroughly entertaining look into the creative souls of some of the masters of contemporary gay fiction. Recommended for most larger collections. Jeff Ingram, Newport P.L., OR Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Writer Richard Canning presents the results of his detailed interviews with 12 gay novelists. The interviews focus on the writers' ideas rather than their personal lives, and Canning's style of interviewing lends a collaborative, improvisational feeling to the discussions. Writers include James Purdy, Edmund White, Armistead Maupin, Felice Picano, Ethan Mordden, Alan Hollinghurst, and Patrick Gale. Lacks a subject index. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
The Gay & Lesbian Review

A meaty compendium of worthwhile thoughts and ideas to mull over. The interviewer and the authors have collaborated to bring forth a wealth of colorful authorial confessions, personal and historical anecdotes, prescriptions for a host of the world's ills, and takes on the intersections of life and fiction.

Lambda Book Report
Delightful and illuminating interviews... I closed this book feeling wiser and more informed about gay literature and the craft of writing in general.

— Martin Wilson

Genre

Culled from incisive interviews, Canning strives for in-depth dialogues with scintillating results. He's captured the genius and energy of our finest generation of gay writers and its impact on today's reader. Brimming with vitality, attitude, individuality and innovation, this anthology of interviews uncovers the stories behind your favorite creative players.

Lambda Book Report - Martin Wilson

Delightful and illuminating interviews... I closed this book feeling wiser and more informed about gay literature and the craft of writing in general.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231502498
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
03/08/2001
Series:
Between Men~Between Women: Lesbian and Gay Studies
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

David Van Leer

Gay literature owes an enormous debt to the trail-blazing work of Professor Canning. His ground breaking interviews record a gay literary tradition that is quickly passing, and this herculean feat in itself would be enough to warrant publication. These interviews, however, do more than record the thoughts of important neglected writers. They begin to outline the as-yet-untold history of Anglo-American gay male fiction.

Patrick Merla

Since Canning's reading and his sympathies are so deep, his book passes beyond the issue of 'straight vs. gay'into the universals of how people interact with the world even as the world impacts on them. This book will be necessary reading for anyone interested in the fiction of our time.

Meet the Author

Richard Canning is lecturer in English and American literature at Sheffield University. He has written for The Guardian, The New Statesman, The Independent, and Attitude.

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