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Bad Gay Fiction & the Absence of Introspection

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 4:23 pm - November 30, 2008.
Filed under: Family,Gay Politics,Literature & Ideas

I’m blogging from Cincinnati where I have spent the holiday among members of the PatriotFamilyWest, the youngest of whom decided to remain in San Francisco with his mother.

Since my Dad and his wife are planning to move from their house where the contents of my childhood room (in a different home) have sat (mostly) undisturbed in boxes for as long as he’s lived there, he’s asked me to go through those boxes. As I was doing just that, I discovered some boxes from my apartment in Arlington, Virginia that I had left in Cincinnati when I moved to the West Coast.

In one of those, I found the better part of my collection of gay fiction, books that I had not already given (or thrown) away.  As I paged through each book before setting it in the give- (or throw-)away pile, I recalled how I had to force myself to finish many of them, with commentary in the margins on the poor quality of prose, repeated use of cliché or absence of development of the characters.

Why did so many of those books lack introspection, I wondered, with so few of the characters ever acknowledging his errors even as a majority of them were cheating on their partners, boyfriends or potential boyfriends?

Indeed, save for the works of Jim Grimsley (which I discuss briefly here), I don’t recall finding the characters of many gay novels going on any kind of interior journey (unless you count the journey from sexual desire to fulfillment as an interior one).

So, after paging through these books, taking the boxes upstairs either to the garbage or to be set aside for a thrift store (depending on their condition), I wondered if absence of introspection were a characteristic of gay men in general of just our literary “representatives.”  And the heads of our political organizations.