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The Front Runner: A Novel Paperback – June 1, 1996
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About the Author
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AUTHOR, PUBLISHER AND ACTIVIST
Patricia Nell Warren has written and published professionally since 1954, at age 18. In 59 years, her subjects have ranged from women and Goddess Earth to human rights, from gay life and mixed-blood people in American history to wildlife, the environment and current events.
Now 76 years old, she was born in 1936 and raised on a Montana ranch. She worked as a Reader's Digest book editor for 15 years, on both the magazine staff and the Condensed Book Club.
Today Warren lives in Glendale, CA, where she co-owns an independent book-publishing and media company, Wildcat International and Wildcat Press.
Since 1971 Warren has published eight novels -- several with mainstream publishers (Morrow, Bantam, Ballantine, Dial Press, Penguin) and several under her own independent imprint, Wildcat Press. The Front Runner, Harlan's Race and Billy's Boy are a landmark series that follows an evolving family through 20 years of gay life.
She also published two mainstream novels, The Last Centennial (1971) and One Is the Sun (1991).
Warren's best-known fiction work, The Front Runner, was first published by William Morrow in 1974, and became the most popular gay love story of all time. The book has sold an estimated 10 million copies worldwide and been translated into ten languages, the most recent being Complex Chinese.
Film rights of The Front Runner have been in development for some years, and received a great deal attention as one of "Hollywood's unmade gay films" during Brokeback Mountain's run-up for the Academy Awards.
Currently Warren is working on a new novel titled Wrong Side of the Tracks.
Warren's newest title is her second nonfiction book. It's titled My West: Personal Writings on the American West, an anthology of nonfiction articles about Warren's roots in the historical and modern West. Published in 2011, it won an international Rainbow Award in the nonfiction category.
Warren's articles and op-eds have appeared in a variety of mainstream publications, including Atlantic Monthly, Los Angeles Times, Reader's Digest, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, Modern Maturity, Persimmon Hill, New York Press, Des Moines Register, Mythosphere, Corporate Africa. She has also published in various leading gay publications.
For A & U Magazine she writes a monthly column on the politics of AIDS and public health. Online, she blogs at The Bilerico Project, the most popular and politically vociferous glbt blog on the Web.
As a result of interest in movies based on her novels, Warren has moved into active development herself as an executive producer, in partnership with Greg Zanfardino of Moniker Entertainment. At present, she has several docudrama projects on her slate, including an Australian group's novel search for the wreck site of Amelia Earhart's aircraft in Papua New Guinea.
Activism and Politics
Warren's political activism started during the 1960s, with efforts -- while still a Reader's Digest editor -- to have American media recognize the individuality of Ukrainians and other ethnic groups in the USSR.
In the 1970s Warren was the plaintiffs' spokesperson for Susan Smith v. Reader's Digest, a landmark lawsuit that resulted in a class-action victory for women. As a former amateur athlete, Warren helped lead a group of women distance runners who forced the AAU (Amateur Athletic Union, the then governing body of amateur sports in the U.S.) to change discriminatory rules in the mid-70s.
More recently, in the free-speech realm, Warren has been a named plaintiff in both federal lawsuits over Internet censorship -- namely ACLU v. Reno (which went to the U.S. Supreme Court and resulted in a victory for the plaintiffs) and the more recent ACLU lawsuit over the Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was also struck down as unconstitutional.
As recognition for her activism, Warren has won a number of awards, including New York City's Public Advocate Award and the Barry Goldwater Award.
More information on Warren can be found at: www.wildcatpress.com and www.patricianellwarren.com.
Top Customer Reviews
The Stonewall Riots, which marked a turning point in the struggle for equal rights, was barely five years old when THE FRONT RUNNER was published, and few people--including many in the gay community--had any serious context for the story Warren offered. Consequently, Warren took nothing for granted: she created that context through a series of meticulously described backgrounds, something that made the book widely accessible to mainstream readers. And when THE FRONT RUNNER hit the bookstore it proved a revelation for both homosexual and heterosexuals alike: it flew off the shelves, becoming one of the most critically lauded and widely read novels of its decade.
The story concerns Harlan, a college track coach who is rocked out of the closet when three world class athletes land on his doorstep after being expelled for homosexuality from a major university. One of the three is Billy--and Billy is everything that Harlan has both hungered for and feared: a man with whom Harlan could fall in love. Although many regard it as love story pure and simple, THE FRONT RUNNER is really a sociopolitical novel.Read more ›
One of the athletes, Billy Sive who looks to be a contender for the Montréal Olympics, piques his interest, and Harlan soon finds himself falling for the young man. Billy begins to have the same feelings for Harlan. Once they admit their feelings, they form a strong, positive relationghip face together the fear and hatred of the athletic world and society, determined to give Billy his shot at a gold medal.
First published in 1974, this became a national bestseller. Patricia Nell Warren's depiction of two gay athletes in the 1970s is filled with so much that's positive about being gay: Harlan and Billy form a strong, monogamous relationship and don't hide it from the rest of the world. (They also don't flaunt it.) They tackle many issues that gay men and women are struggling with today: gay marriage, children, gay rights. The novel also handles the societal negatives regarding homosexuality with much humanity and empathy. You can either run and hide from it, or you can stare it down, be happy with yourself.
I also liked the characters. Harlan has only recently come out and is trying to deal with his feelings and jealousies along with his memories of the past and society.Read more ›
With thirty years of queer literature under my belt, I decided to re-visit this old friend (I still retain my original dog-eared and yellowed Bantam paperback - eighth printing, circa 1975) and see if it lived up to my fond memories. First off I'd like to say that, like Billy Sive, the openly gay athlete and front runner of the book's title, the author and original publisher displayed enormous courage in putting this book out into the mainstream in the early 1970's, daring anyone to challenge its right to exist. Kudos to both.
In brief, "The Front Runner" is a tale of international athletic competition as well as an extremely moving and romantic, May-September love story that ends in both triumph and tragedy. What distinguishes it from many earlier queer novels and films is that the book's tragedy stems not from the character's self-loathing but from a senseless act of hatred perpetrated by an otherwise anonymous bigot. Perhaps befitting a book about sports, the writing is straightforward, plain and sturdy without any fey poetic flourishes.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Contains Spoilers: This book tends to RUN ON. It also gave me a CRAMP in the head. Any SWELLING of excitement was brief. I knew about halfway through that B was kick it. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Koda
The ad should have said it was signed by author to a specific person. I know the book well but was under the impression it was just a copy signed by the author; not dedicated to... Read morePublished 7 months ago by GoPre
I first read my sister's copy of The Front Runner one summer soon after it was published. Loved it then and still do. Read morePublished 7 months ago by David Jon Fischer
the FRONT RUNNER IS NOTHING LESS THAN A SPECTACULAR BOOK BY AN EXCEPTIONAL WRITER. MS.WARREN DID AN OUTSTANDING JOB CRAFTING THE CHARACTERS AND THE STORY LINE . . . Read morePublished 8 months ago by david vaughn
Had not read the book since it first came out. Glad that I read it again!Published 8 months ago by Howard Winn McCray
Most of the reviews of this book converge on the 'classic' theme. Possibly the word 'popular' would be more accurate. Read morePublished 9 months ago by JOSEPH OLIVER