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Hold Tight (1988)
by Christopher Bram
No current Talk conversations about this book.
No classic, but an interesting exploration of what things were like in NYC during WW2 for gay folk. Some of the characterizations are rather wooden or sterotyped. Steamy sex saves the day.
From Publishers Weekly
The clever premise of this frothy espionage novel by the author of Surprising Myself is that during World War II there was a gay brothel in lower Manhattan that may have been a hangout for Nazi agents (a rumor of its existence sparked the story, Bram notes in his acknowledgements). When he is discovered to be homosexual, seaman second class Hank Fayette faces a dishonorable discharge unless he agrees to go undercover as a prostitute. The ensuing events are very funny, fast-movingBram is able to juggle characters and plot lines without slackening the paceand, ultimately, emotionally stirring. Hank falls for Juke, the black drag queen who is an attendant at the brothel, and later he develops a crush on a straight man. Bram makes the characters believable, and he takes care not to be anachronistic: by keeping the awkward relationships in their pre-gay-liberation context, he captures the tensions between blacks and whites and gays and non-gays in the New York of the period. There is graphic sex here, but Bram uses it adroitly either to further the spy story, or to explain the undercurrents of real feeling he poignantly conveys. 30,000 first printing; first serial to Christopher Street.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
During World War II, a gay navy sailor works undercover to catch Nazi spies, in this "fast-moving" novel from the author of Gods and Monsters (Publishers Weekly). During shore leave in New York, Seaman Second Class Hank Fayette, a Texas country boy in the big city, finds himself visiting a gay brothel, where he is swiftly arrested during a raid. Facing the prospect of a dishonorable discharge--or worse--he is given another option: Return to the brothel, near Manhattan's West Side piers, and work undercover as a prostitute. Nazi agents are rumored to haunt the area, and Hank is a perfect lure to trap them. This military man is about to risk his life for his country in a way he never expected in "a spy thriller that breaks new ground" from the author of Eminent Outlaws and The Notorious Dr. August (Kirkus Reviews).
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.54Literature English (North America) American fiction 20th Century 1945-1999
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I wanted to like this novel, but for most of its 250+ pages, the story was bogged down by the constant negativity toward homosexuality, Jews, and blacks. I understand that this was the mindset at the time, but I felt is should have been used briefly to give motive to some of the main characters' actions. Homosexuality wasn't tolerated in the military during WWII. Homosexuals were deviants, dumb, hicks, perverted, etc., etc. I hoped the story would move on from that, but it felt as though that was the main focus of the story and the tail of espionage took a back seat.
The only part of the story I did enjoy was the chase between Hank and a potential spy during July 4th festivities at Time Square. That one chapter was filled with the right amount of tension and action. Yet, it couldn't make up for the rest of the book. ( )