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Yield Paperback – September 1, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A spiritually tormented hustler searches for salvation in Houck's moving debut. After gay New York City hustler Simon and his friend Louis get savagely beaten, Louis turns into a hermit and Simon fills with an inexpressible rage that he tries to tamp down with a chain of empty sexual encounters. Things begin to change when Aiden, a customer of Simon's, wants an actual relationship, and soon Simon's doing what he never thought possible: falling in love. Helped by Aiden and his friends, Simon examines his complex views of sex, intimacy, and violence and tries to find a way to heal. Houck's sparse prose is a nice match for a grittily portrayed New York that perpetually teeters on the edge of violence, and the city's and gay culture's larger problems are a perfect counterweight for the internal struggles of a young man trying to redefine himself. Solid, unsentimental storytelling distinguish Houck's first time out.
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From Booklist

In his bold debut novel, winner of Project QueerLit, Houck portrays a young gay man hustling for a living in New York City. Simon has regulars, including the seventysomthing Mr. Bartlett, who is into water sports, and uses a client-driven “menu” for pain, bad pain, and really bad pain, as well as role-playing (Nazi, Farmboy, Marine, etc.). Everything is negotiable in this topsy-turvy world as Simon also holds down a solitary “regular” job filing records in a medical center’s lower depth, grateful for the quiet and for the flexible hours. Musing on the consequences of his two very different endeavors, Simon observes that while the medical histories are held in his paper-cut fingers, “where the sex work goes, I don’t know.” Daring, graphic details, related in the first person, are brutal in rendering the emotional consequences of a gay-bashing, while Houk’s novel is shaped by candor, sweetness, and his protagonist’s genuine caring for his friends as he navigates the waters toward self-knowledge in this risky and affecting story. --Whitney Scott
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Kensington (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0758242654
  • ISBN-13: 978-0758242655
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,943,305 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lee Houck was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee and in 2012 celebrates 15 years of living in New York City. His debut novel, Yield, was the winner of Project QueerLit 2008, and was published by Kensington Books in September 2010. His writing appears in anthologies published in the U.S. and Australia, and in two limited-edition chapbooks: Collection (essays, 2006) and Warnings (poems, 2009). His other work includes original pieces for theater seen in Vermont, Tennessee and in New York City, art installations for the Musee de Monoian, and poetry in the Magnetic Poetry Calendar. He is currently at work on a new novel, and blogs at GrammarPiano.com.

Additionally, with Great Small Works he has performed in "B.B. in L.A." and "The Rising Tide Parade." With Jennifer Miller, he has been seen in "Cracked Ice" and "The Golden Racket," and with Circus AMOK! for many, many seasons.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By H. F. Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 31, 2010
Format: Paperback
I should say first of all that I am a friend of Lee Houck. That fact, however, does not affect the quality of YIELD, his first novel. Simply put, it is just very good, period. What is so amazing is that it does not read like many first novels. It is seamless and as fluid as Vermont maple syrup. The characters are three-dimensional, fleshed-out people that to a person you will care about deeply for there are no villains here.

The narrator Simon has a monotonous deadend job in St. Vincent's Hospital, but he also works part-time as a New York hustler-- with the proverbial heart of gold. Sometimes he gives money back to his clients or does not charge at all. His friends are Louis, a sometime Calvin Klein model who has fallen in love with shopping for useless merchandise via his credit card-- before it gets rejected for nonpayment. This phenomenon is certainly not something that only gay people are guilty of although we are certainly not immune to this disease. We have to look no further, for instance, than the character of Michael from the play BOYS IN THE BAND. Farmer is the high priest of useless information, and Jaron is in love with self-mutilation. This foursome is quite an unlikely quartet, but together they work as a family and sometimes make beautiful music together. This is what this really fine novel is about: the families that we make, a common theme among many novels written about gay people that resonates with many of us. One of my favorite T shirts long since worn to shreds in inscribed with "Our families are those people who love us."

Lee sees both the tiresome self-importance of some gay activists (cf. the public rally to protest the rash of gay bashings) and the loneliness of old age. He has created a lovable but sad character in Mr.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on September 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Simon is a twenty something New Yorker who ekes out a living as a file clerk at a hospital, supplemented by hustling a small stable of loyal tricks. Beyond that, he lives for spending time with three somewhat eccentric gay male friends, including Louis (a top fashion model), Jaron (an anti-establishment and self-destructive young man who has been in and out of hospitals for mutilating himself), and Farmer (the intellectual and seemingly grounded one of the group, but who never seems to realize his dreams).

Things change when Louis and Simon become the target of one of the increasingly-common anti-gay assaults, and Simon lets Louis - who took the brunt of the beatings - recuperate at his apartment. As his "recovery" stretches out way beyond the time needed for physical healing, it become clear that the episode made Louis afraid of being out alone in the city, which puts his modeling career - on hold until he healed - in jeopardy. Meanwhile, Simon gets a crush on a neighbor who had been a paid client earlier, and also tries to figure out the motivation of Mr. Bartlett, a nice old man who has been a regular but unconventional client.

The first-time novelist gives us a witty, sharp and challenging story about life and the importance of the "family" we create for ourselves amid the impersonality and harsh reality of the big city. The characters are far from comforting to the reader, yet their lives are made multi-dimensional and captivating by the skill with which they are written. Looking forward to more from this talented author. Five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John Summerour on November 9, 2010
Format: Paperback
I couldn't put it down. The characters are so well drawn, the situations so compelling, that the narrative transcends marketing boxes like "gay" and "urban." While the content can be challenging, it proves necessary to push the reader to such extremes so that he can experience the protagonist's journey in a visceral, meaningful way. This is a very rewarding read and a remarkable debut. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By brooklynreader on October 30, 2010
Format: Paperback
A beautiful, rich, gritty portrait of what it's like to be young, arriving in New York City, and creating your own family for the first time. It's about the pleasures and loneliness of the city's anonymity, the small, daily ways in which its streets inspire and hurt you, and the people who help you navigate it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michael Travis Jasper on February 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
It was enjoyable to see this entire story unfold through the lead character's eyes. I usually prefer fiction told in the third person, but Simon's unique point of view made this interesting. He doesn't judge others (at least not his friends). He simply takes them as they are. That is difficult to do, and allows the person that can to live a very different kind of life. I liked that various types of gay people are represented. The characters are flawed, but likeable. Many of the scenes are short and intentionally ambiguous. I might have preferred that some of the action were allowed to play out on the page, so that we could sometimes KNOW what happened. Overall the story kept me well engaged, and provoked some serious thoughts. That's what I want from a novel. Also, in the current climate of awareness about bullying, this book's discussion of gay-bashing is important. Even in America, gay people still live in danger.
Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel, "To Be Chosen"
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