Lost Language of Cranes

Lost Language of Cranes

by David Leavitt


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David Leavitt's extraordinary first novel, now reissued in paperback, is a seminal work about family, sexual identity, home, and loss.

Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of a swiftly gentrifying Manhattan, The Lost Language of Cranes tells the story of twenty-five-year-old Philip, who realizes he must come out to his parents after falling in love for the first time with a man. Philip's parents are facing their own crisis: pressure from developers and the loss of their longtime home. But the real threat to this family is Philip's father's own struggle with his latent homosexuality, realized only in his Sunday afternoon visits to gay porn theaters. Philip's admission to his parents and his father's hidden life provoke changes that forever alter the landscape of their worlds.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781582345734
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 05/02/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Product dimensions: 5.82(w) x 7.85(h) x 0.85(d)

About the Author

David Leavitt is the author of several novels, including The Body of Jonah Boyd, While England Sleeps, and Equal Affections, as well as the short-story collections Family Dancing, A Place I've Never Been, and The Marble Quilt, which are all included in Bloomsbury's recently published Collected Stories. A recipient of fellowships from both the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he teaches at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

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Lost Language of Cranes 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
xtien on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Explaining the title kind of spoils the book. However, the title has little or nothing to do with what happens in the book. I remember the cranes part more than the rest of the book.
Bembo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this an involving story, although not a book that I could not put down, in fact I could take only so much at a time, unlike many novels which I have to force myself to take a break from. The writing is very detailed and descriptive, and this seems to hold up the narrative such that at times I became impatient to know what happened next. The story itself is very interesting, revolving around Owen and Rose and their son Philip. Philip is gay and is looking for that elusive life long partner, but has not yet come out to his parents, when he finally does it opens up other family secrets.
Alirambles on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wasn't impressed with this one. Leavitt has a tendency to tell us what's happening, then take three steps backward to tell us what led up to that happening, filling in the even earlier backstory along the way. The result is that you read 10 pages to find out: Owen is walking somewhere. His wife is home working (and they have to either buy their apartment or move, and they have a grown son, here's what his apartment is like, and here's what they talked about when she had lunch with him one time and then she took a cab ride but that was another day because now we're back in the apartment hearing about how her husband was gone when she woke up and now it's page 14 and she's working, like she was on page 4, and she's going to go for a walk.) Then we meet the son and his lover, but now we're going back 3 weeks to read the story of how they met.Novels don't have to be completely linear, but I began to feel like I was floundering around inside this one, trying to find the story, trying to figure out if anything was actually going to happen that related to the situation the author chose to begin his novel with. (It does, but by the time it did I cared less than I had at the beginning.)Some of the dialogue seems contrived. Phillip sounds like a bad parody of a mental health counselor: "I miss her. I feel very sad about it." And some of the conversations between father and son toward the end of the book, I just found impossible to swallow, which in turn made the relationship seem false. Since that relationship was a pivotal part of the novel, it was disappointing to say the least.
amerynth on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading "The Lost Language of Cranes," which surprised me because I didn't find David Leavitt's writing style particularly engaging. However, the story itself, a quintessential coming out tale, was put together well. Leavitt has interesting ideas that (especially the story that relates to the title)that elevates the book above the run-of-the-mill.The novel tells the story of Owen, Rose and Philip, their gay son who falls in love for the first time and struggles with the idea of coming out to his parents. Owen and Rose are in the process of losing their home -- not just the physical house -- but everything that makes them the family they've been. The book is all about the way people communicate -- or avoid doing so -- and the way those languages filled with secrets and routines hold people together.Really interesting concepts packed into a average story. I thought the book was worth reading, but it didn't inspire me to pick up more of Leavitt's works.
diegogarcia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
That is a novel and quite original story line, but the narration, style and language are unfortunately a bit boring, tiring, easy to guess. So, the best thing about this book an what made me buy it), is its title. But dont expect too much of it...
lycomayflower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Compelling study of a family living in early 80's Manhattan. The characters are largely sympathetic, the writing draws one right in, and Leavitt has an enviable way of marking details so that they are both fascinating and telling. There was, however, a strong sense that these characters live lives in which most actions are continuous and repeated and important thoughts and emotions occur often but at no particular, specific time. It is as if they live constantly in the past imperfective, and while I'm sure that was intentional and pointed, it did became tiresome by the end of the book.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavit Philip Benjamin is in love with Eliot Abrams. Philip is a 25 y/o editor of romance novels. Eliot is a free lance trust fund baby who doesn't want a relationship. Philip decides it's time to tell his parents, Owen and Rose, about his sexuality, now that he's in love. Owen is an admission officer at a Harte, Prep school in Manhattan. Rose is a copy editor for a publishing company. They've been married for 27 years. However, Owen has a secret of his own: he's gay. Every Sunday, Owen goes to the Bijou, a New York City porn theater where men have sex with men. When Owen discovers that his son is gay - it's like a wake up call: time for him to come out of the closet. Rose and Owen's problems are compounded by the fact that their rent controlled apartment is about to convert to a Co-op, which means they might have to move. After telling His parents that he's gay, Philip and Eliot break up, and Philip has to come to terms with his new status, not knowing that he has started a process in his parent's lives. Mr. Leavitt develops the plot up to a climax where all the lies are exposed and all the characters must start a new life, whatever that might entail. The book is narrated from the third person universal point of view. The main theme is love. "For each, in his own way, finds what it is he must love, and loves it; the window becomes a mirror; whatever it is that we love, that is who we are." The book is set in the late 80's where HIV/AIDS was an integral part of any homosexual relationship. It deals with the difference in generations: where Philip felt a need to tell the whole world he was gay, his father felt he had to marry and hide his homosexual tendencies. Rose, in turn, turns to discreet extramarital relationships to compensate for what she was missing in her marriage, but can't deal with "discussing" any of it. Most definitively a novel of the times and a classic....