7 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Not good scholarship, finds his voice in last chapter,
This review is from: How To Be Gay (Hardcover)
The controversy about the course on which this book is based has largely been used, not least by the author himself, to obscure the fact that most of the book really does not count as good scholarship, in style or in substance.
The substance of the book mainly consists in ascribing extremely elaborate Rube Goldberg-like motivations to gay men, based not on interviews, studies, or any other kind of evidence but that the author is gay and made them up. I shudder to think of the impressionable students, wishing to learn something about what it is like to be a gay man, sitting in his class absorbing all this nonsense.
I found the writing style of most of the book to be absolutely exasperating. I often had the impression that a given paragraph was rewritten 20 times, and the author forgot to erase the first 19 rewrites, keeping them all in the book, or that he was simply rambling on and on because couldn't quite find the right note on which to end a section. Certain passages, such as the ones on the Italian widows, are train wrecks in excruciatingly slow motion. With good editing, the book could have been cut to a fifth of its length without significant loss of information.
It is only in the last chapter, concerned with the recent history of gay community and politics, that the author finds his voice. It is well-written and clear. His discussion on the history of the loss of gay community is poignant, and his remarks on the resulting banalization of gay life and politics with its lamentable adoption of heteronormative causes and life goals, is spot on.