Like People in History

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In a book that could have been written only by one who lived it and survived to tell, Picano weaves a powerful saga of four decades in the lives of two men and their lovers, relatives, friends, and enemies. Tragic, comic, sexy, and romantic, filled with varied and colorful characters, Like People in History is both extraordinarily moving and supremely entertaining. Solid, cautious Roger Sansarc and flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge are second cousins who become lifelong friends when they first meet as ...
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Overview

In a book that could have been written only by one who lived it and survived to tell, Picano weaves a powerful saga of four decades in the lives of two men and their lovers, relatives, friends, and enemies. Tragic, comic, sexy, and romantic, filled with varied and colorful characters, Like People in History is both extraordinarily moving and supremely entertaining. Solid, cautious Roger Sansarc and flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge are second cousins who become lifelong friends when they first meet as nine-year-old boys in 1954. Their lives constantly intersect at crucial moments in their personal histories as each discovers his own unique - and uniquely gay - identity. Through the lens of their complex, tumultuous, madcap, yet enduring relationship - and their involvement with the handsome model, poet, and decorated Vietnam vet Matt Loguidice, whom they both love - Picano chronicles and celebrates gay life and subculture over the last half of the twentieth century: from the legendary 1969 gathering at Woodstock to the legendary parties at Fire Island Pines in the 1970s, from Malibu Beach in its palmiest surfer days to San Francisco during its gayest era, from the cities and jungles of South Vietnam during the war to Manhattan's Greenwich Village and Upper East Side during the present-day AIDS war.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Though Picano's latest may lack the significance implied by its subtitle, his memorable characters and wonderfully dishy dialogue evoke changing gay sensibilities with affecting measures of both tragedy and comedy. The novel opens in New York City, 1991, with literary maven Roger Sansarc, who narrates, and his current boyfriend attending a 45th-birthday celebration for Roger's flamboyant second cousin, Alistair Dodge. Alistair is suffering from AIDS, and Roger has brought the requested pills to hasten his demise. The action flashes back to 1954, when Roger and Alistair first meet, as fourth graders; subsequent sections alternate between the present-detailing Alistair's fate, as well as a heated ACT UP demonstration-and assorted professional and amatory episodes in the lives of the conservative Roger and his ever-outr relation. Comparisons with Ethan Mordden's similarly themed How Long Has This Been Going On? are inevitable: both books portray America's evolving gay culture during the past few decades. Picano's tale is the more traditional in style and structure, while Mordden brings greater scope and sweep to his freewheeling, in-your-face novel. Despite the dramatic events and requisite period references here (e.g., mentholated Kent cigarettes, Mary Renault's The Persian Boy), the historical perspective Picano brings seems somewhat forced. Nevertheless, his finely crafted prose makes these People consistently absorbing. (July)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140245257
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/11/1996
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.72 (h) x 0.94 (d)

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 7 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 12, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    Like People in History by Felice Picano I just finished reading

    Like People in History by Felice Picano

    I just finished reading Felice Picano's Like People in history for the fifth time and I'm happy to report the book withstands the passage of time. i found it as relevant today as when I first read it in the late 90's.

    The book takes place in 1991, when Roger Sansarc and his current HIV positive lover and ACT UP activist Wally are on the way to a demonstration at Gracie Mansion. On their way, the duo makes a detour to Rogers's dying cousin, Alistair Dodge, to deliver 60 Tuinals so Alistair can kill himself. Wally and Roger argue as to the merits of ending the life of a dying AIDS patient, so Roger recounts his anecdotes of his relationship with Alistair.

    The book is divided into five sections, each one starts with the present and then goes back to 1954, 1961, 1969, 1974, and 1985. In each section we not only get a pertinent piece of the relationship between Roger and Alistair, but also the history of the GLBT community at the time.

    Narrated beautifully from Roger's first person point of view, we meet the cousins in 1954, as Alistair's parents are getting a divorce. It is clear from the beginning that Alistair is a charismatic flamboyant person who easily takes over Roger's world and teaches his cousin a thing or two about how things work: "Well, just remember this, Cuz. Schmucks like that will come and go in your life. They don't mean a thing. I'm the one who counts. I'm the one you're going to have to face and deal with. Because I'm the one who's going to be around for a long, long time."

    In 1961, we deal with Roger's trip to visit his cousin in Los Angeles and Roger's dealings with his sexuality. The big theme of the 60's was coming out.

    In 1974, we deal with Roger's trip to Provincetown and his stent at the Pozzuoli bookstore. After reading nights at Rizzoli, Mr. Picano's newest non-fiction novel, it's easy to see where he got the material. Here is when Roger falls in love with Matt Longuidice, his first true love.

    In 1979, the action shifts to Fire Island, The Pines and Roger's relationship with Matt Longuidice develops into an open relationship and the book ends with Alistair stealing Matt away from Roger. "What if Stonewall hadn't happened? Would we all be zipping around and hiding like those poor fifties queens? Daring our jobs, our lives, to be ourselves, to even protest?" "We've been the first generation of gays to force ourselves or to be forced out of the closet. We had to experience the traumas of coming out, and making the gay movement happen, not to mention the more general trauma of getting through the roller coaster of the late sixties...."

    In 1984, Roger finds out Matt is sick, and both he and Alistair help Matt cope with his AIDS disease and gently help him die - which brings us back to 1991 and Wally and Roger helping Alistair die. "Golden lads, that's what Haussman called the huge promising generation of young Brits mowed down in the First World War." "Nature is usually so tightfisted with what it provides. So very prudent how it husbands its resources. Why would Nature go to the trouble to create so much luxuriance in what after all was a group of nonreproductive creatures? Why create such an extraordinary generation of beautiful, talented, quickly intelligent men, and then why let them all die so rapidly, one after the other?"

    Knowing Felice, the book deals a lot with his Survivor's remorse: "My doom was of another kind. Perhaps survival was to be my doom." "Who's left? How few of us? Why bother to leave any of us? Why not just wipe the slate clean and admit it was a mistake?"

    To answer Felice and my own survival's remorse, we're hear to remind everyone of what can happen if we don't keep watch. We're here to remind the young homosexuals who are working so hard on their wedding plans that a lot went on so that they could be accepted by society. Lots of lives were lost and lots of hard work occurred so that they can have a normal life. i just hope people continue to read this novel so that we don't forget....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2004

    Just really good, riviting

    This was just a very well written novel. I was completely enthralled in the lives of the main characters. It brought out so many different emotions and the structue of the writing and the novel in general is very original, I thought. At the same time, it was easy to follow and easy to read but wasn't written like it's meant for a juvenile. I'd recommend it for anybody who loves a good read that goes by quickly.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2002

    Bravo, more please!

    I recently finished reading this epic tale of gay life and it was hard for me to put the book down. I wanted it to continue! I really enjoyed the characters, the writing style, the depth in the two main characters and most of all the brief history lesson. As part of the 'Will and Grace' generation it was a great insight to what the gay generations before us did, not to mention a lot of laughs and a couple of tears! Good Reading for sure!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2001

    Loved it

    I just finished reading the novel and absolutely loved it. As a college student I'm constantly reading, but this 500 some odd page novel was well worth the time. Everytime I was forced to put it down I couldn't wait for the next chance I had to read more. Funny, sad, inspiring, empowering, I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2000

    Facinating People!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this 'epic' novel which details gay history in America from the 1950's through the 1990's by exploring the lives of its two central characters as they grow up gay amidst changing social conditions. At times this novel is funny, touching, sexy and wise. Highly recommended, even if overly long, this novel is clearly heartfelt and well written.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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