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The Gay Canon: Great Books Every Gay Man Should Read
by Robert Drake
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385492286, Paperback)Any attempt to identify the canonical or authoritative texts of any culture, let alone one as diverse as gay culture, is going to be fraught with peril, but Robert Drake makes a valiant effort here, operating on the assumption that "a gay book is a book that addresses issues of same-sex love, or a book written by an author who enjoys his same gender for sexual fulfillment and/or relief." (Of course, buried in that statement is an implicit assumption that we are, for the time being, only considering "same-sex love" between men; the formation of the lesbian canon is a task Drake leaves to others.) With position in the canon determined either by content or authorial orientation, but not necessarily both, some interesting choices wind up on the roster. You expected E.M. Forster, Marcel Proust, and Tony Kushner, no doubt, but what about Henry David Thoreau and Anne Rice? Twenty-three books are explored in particular depth, with the aim of providing a syllabus to be pursued alone or in a book group. Chances are you probably won't agree with everything Drake has to say about gay literature, but there's no doubt The Gay Canon will provoke and stimulate you. --Ron Hogan
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:36 -0400)
There are countless works of interest to gay men in print right now--anthologies, novels, memoirs, and more. It is a reflection of progress that there is such an openly recognizable culture. Yet how to make sense of the choices offered? What do gay men need to read? What books have shaped the gay heart, mind, and soul? The Gay Canon gives its readers answers to these questions. Not only does it list the one hundred great gay books that have influenced writers and continue to shape the gay imagination, it also provides a deeper, more comprehensive look at the twenty-six most seminal works, each of which is followed by a series of useful group discussion questions. Reaching all the way back to Gilgamesh and continuing through classics like Leaves of Grass, Confessions of a Mask, and The Wild Boys, as well as more recent books like Borrowed Time, The Gay Canon consistently avoids impenetrable academic literary criticism in favor of a more popular introduction for general readers and book groups. The Gay Canon is a book to give to any young man just coming out, a book every gay reading group will want to rely on, and--most important--a book that will enrich and improve the gay story that continues to be written.
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