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Between Men 2: Original Fiction by Today's Best Gay Writers Paperback – May 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
I had long postponed buying this collection precisely because of the bad reviews and finally bought it simply because I had run out of collections to read. I am very glad that I did.
The most disappointing by far has to be "Gainesville Before Noon" by one of the most respected writers of gay fiction there is. I have read everything Andrew Holleran has written-- although I keep hoping against hope that he will use his real name rather than a pen name; after all he could now get married if he lived in a few of these United States-- but I would not be inclined to look up his other fiction from this story. The unnamed narrator is a sad man in his 50's who meets other sad middle-aged men in North Florida whom he finds in computer chatrooms. To a person Holleran describes them as "oval" shaped. Couldn't there have been just one sad man who was skinny or who might have gone to the gym occasionally? This story is somewhere way past dreary. Alan Hollinghurst, winner of the Booker Prize for LINE OF BEAUTY and the author of several other novels I enjoyed, doesn't fare much better. In "Highlights" the younger Archie convinces his older friend Colin, who was "thought to be duller and older than he was," to have his hair streaked while they are on holiday in Rome. About mid-way into this story, these two men run into a couple named the Grotons who-- unless I slept through the first 11 pages of the story-- apparently dropped in from another piece of fiction.Read more ›
(1) Aesthetically inferior (happens elsewhere; (1A) short stories today seem to be no longer taut tense dynamic tales, but muddied meandering memoirs, and (1B) note to editors: you simply do not, repeat not, except in unusual circumstances, lift out a section from a novel and present it as a short story. (Tho if you have to ask why not, I admit you wouldn't understand...).
But also (2) as psychologically-suspect. My review of his first anthology criticized his "delight" in characters who were psychologically-suspect. In that book's introduction, he said : "Most of the protagonists in Between Men, I'm thrilled to say, behave badly, argue unconvincingly, backtrack constantly, misdescribe, misappropriate, and misbehave." (Is that a dead give-away or red flag, Rorschach-test style? Of Canning's bias, flaw--of my own overreaction?...) In short, characters immature to the point of unworked case-studies (IMHO), hence insignificant as art
No, I do not say the opposite of a world-view of depressed deviating, etc., is or should be 100% optimistic sentimental Hallmark-card type Babbitt-boosting Apple Pie junk. No, something in between: "in every family, something's the matter," as the Asian proverb says. Or Thomas Mann, who said that every happy family is the same, every unhappy family is so in its own way. Indeed, fiction is about problems, complications! Let literary art explore the human condition, seamy-side warts and all, yes. But let final significance emerge. Not just drifty dudes playing out pathologies in wandering words, diluted diaries.Read more ›