“Between Men”–eighteen of the best

Canning, Richard, editor. “Between Men: Original Fiction by Today’s Best Gay Writers, Carroll & Graf, 2007.

Eighteen of the Best

Amos Lassen

Due out in June is am amazing anthology of some of the best writers of gay literature, “Between Men” edited and with an introduction by Richard Canning. Some of the authors in the anthology include Edmund White, Dale Peck, Andrew Holleran, Michael Lowenthal and Bruce Benderson among others. The stories were previously unpublished and I want to compliment Mr. Canning on the authors he as selected to include here.  In a lengthy and very informative introduction, we learn how Canning chose the selections as well as background information about gay literary history and each of the individual authors and stories.

The anthology traverses age and geography and it is obvious that Canning took great care in selecting the authors and stories he includes in this collection. And who should better make selections like this? He has written two books on conversations with gay novelists and is well equipped to provide us with an anthology of some of the very best of gay writing around.

Let’s look at some of the highlights of the book. Andrew Holleran, who we recently hosted at the Arkansas Literary Festival, gives us the beautiful story entitled “Hello, Young Lovers”. Using the theme of boredom in gay life and what can be done about it. In his usual lyric style he gives us a picture which we will not soon forget.

Edmund White looks to the past—to nineteenth century New York in his story,” The Painted Boy” in which he imagines a meeting between author Stephen Crane and a guy known as the painted bird. It is another in which the author continues to talk about writing about the past to shape the future. It is beautiful in its simplicity and brevity.

What the entire book gives us is a look at where gay fiction is today. As we read the stories we read about the lives of men who even though may be looked upon as being dangerous for putting their writing out there. But the same men who wrote these wonderful stories are diverse as the colors of the rainbow and as wise as they can be. If you are new to gay literature here is a beautiful way to jump on it. If you have been reading it for years like myself, you will begin to understand what it is all about and what a wonderful group of authors we have telling our stories.

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