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My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man's Odyssey
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My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man's Odyssey

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  105 ratings  ·  25 reviews
My Husband and My Wives: A Gay’s Man’s Odyssey is a memoir of a man looking back over eight decades at the complications of discovering at puberty that he is attracted to other men. The dilemma of remaining true to what his libido tells him is right while surrounded by a disapproving and sometimes hostile society, is one side of his story. Another is the impulsive decision ...more
ebook, 272 pages
Published October 2nd 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2012)
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Stacey
I would give My Husband and My Wives one star, except I had a very fun time talking about the book with my book club. We discussed it for hours, mostly laughingly, but anything that gets you talking for that long is worth something, I guess. But to be clear, I kind of hated this--not because it's a gay book, but because it's a bad book. The author is eighty, and reading it is like talking to a very dirty, very senile old man who can't keep his shit straight yet still knows how to use words like ...more
Amy Steffey
I am still trying to figure out why this guy felt his life worthy of writing a book about - and disappointed I spent money and time reading it. He has an amazing recollection of a tremendous number of sexual partners, but overall seems like a selfish individual. Can't wait to see what the book club crew thinks of this one!! I found it a fast, easy read, but fairly boring despite the detailed descriptions of his multiple sexual exploits. I realize I may be naive, but I am not sure I am convinced ...more
Richard Kramer
First: a wonderful title. Second, a marvelous cover. Third; well, not much. Maybe you don't help a book when you set out wanting to like it. And I wanted to like this chronicle of a man, now in his 80's, and his sexual journey through time that has led him, happily, to his husband. Fine. Maazel tov, as they say in the Klondike. But the book is a sour, shallow experience, revealing a man who has learned nothing and, for my shekel, has nothing to share that we haven't heard before. He's arrogant, ...more
Tucker
A curious perspective from a man who had relationships with other men in the '50s and through the present day.

He acknowledges himself as oversexed, and, despite this assessment (which could be an entry point to understanding others, since it posits itself in relation to what might be considered "normally sexed"), he does not manage to universalize his experiences and insights. He didn't have a very easy road with his mother, wives, and children, but all the same, his road was easier than that of
...more
Ilya
a fascinating account of growing up in the 40s, 50s, and onwards, as a guy who likes guys, has lots of sex with guys, and nevertheless marries two women and has four kids...and eventually just becomes a gay man.

Breezy, easy to read, and would compel most readers under the age of, say, 50 or 60, to reconsider some of what they think they know about prejudice and sexuality in decades past. A valuable document!
Callie
I'll give you three stars, Charles, but with some major reservations. I will say that I was hoping to hear more about your three marriages, instead I got a long, long list of every single sexual encounter you ever had--and you had a LOT! NOT what I was looking for. But you did lead a very full life and the funny thing is you are not afraid or ashamed of some very bad behavior which you quite unabashadly recount along with everything else. I found your tone quite nice, I must say because you sort ...more
Mary Johnson
This book began well, and if I'd stopped about a third of the way through, I would have given it 4 or 5 stars.

But I didn't notice many new insights--particularly new insights about his sexuality--beyond the first section. The young Christopher discovering his sexuality and living it out in Iowa City in the 40s happily challenged many of my preconceptions.

I did enjoy the dual focus: Beye's sexual life and his professional life. The way these intersect was interesting. And the final insight about
...more
Michael
To quote a typo from the book, I may be suffering from "an access of goodwill" giving this book more than one star. I found the author's life interesting, and especially enjoyed his description of his own family, notably his stuck-in-the-Victorian-era mother.

Unfortunately, the majority of this book (when not making asinine sociological comments or digressing into his Classics scholarship) is an endless parade of sex scenes, each more improbable than the next. Apparently this guy had near-constan
...more
Catherine
I think Beye’s life story was interesting especially when it came to chronicling his boyhood in Iowa and somewhat in his romantic relationships with his two wives and now his husband.

He explains at the beginning of the book the reasons for the sexually explicit content, but I thought it was superfluous. The reader gained nothing in knowing those nitty gritty details. I felt uncomfortable with him having sexual relations with students. He claimed they weren’t his students at the time, but since
...more
Kate Rau
If the author is to be believed, he was the Wilt Chamberlain of gay sex. Starting at 14, he blew everyone from classmates to teachers, several entire football and basketball teams, sailors, hitchhikers, at least one "famous athlete", students (once he became a professor), endless "straight married men" and friends of his teenage children. Oh, and all the while having meaningful and fabulous sex with his two wives. I'd hoped for more thought-provoking insight, less "bragging". I was debating whet ...more
Holly
There are so many different reactions to this book and many come at it with a distinctly 21st century lens that they forget this man writes about being openly gay in the 1940s. Some folks consider him to have been a bully in his teens, though what I see was a man who was preyed upon by straight males looking for blow jobs. Others comment that he was a sexual predator, what I see was a man no different than straight males I knew in my teens and 20s. What shocks people is the amount of sex he has ...more
Charles Lor
A book about a straight man who blows guys on the side. Certainly not 80 years of life as a gay man.

Marketed as a "gay memoir" it is full of male-male sex, but nothing I would call "gay" in the cultural sense of the term. The author admits, the closest he's ever come to the gay community is the very few bars he's been in and where he "never felt comfortable". Never does his life intersect with the gay community, which means that we never have any insight on the evolution of gay perception, cult
...more
Tif
I think I need to stay away from autobiographies; I'm realizing that I don't like reading about people who talk about themselves as if they're the most interesting person they know. So much of this book's tone was self-centered and arrogant, and the author's candidness seems like an excuse to create shock value. This book was little more than a blowhard keeping record of his 'scandalously' extensive sex life.
Maureen Flatley
A graphic and occasionally lurid memoir by a world class academic w/ an incredible zest for life. To say that Beye's life has been unconventional would be an understatement but his bracing intellect and self deprecating humor temper what could otherwise have been a very difficult read.
Rod
I loved this story of a Gay man's life from 1930 to present. He writes a great story, more a erotic novel. Author was a classic Greek professor and I want to read his scholarly works if they are written as well.
Nathan
At the risk of being uncharitable, nothing says "shoe-gazing memoir" like endless tales of promiscuous sex intermixed with egotistical academic puffery. Disappointing, to say the least.
Eben  Pendleton
Came for the family lore. Stayed for the descriptions of Cambridge and Midwest.
Loren Olson
Charles Rowan Beye is an octogenarian, a retired professor of classics whose previous books are ones I'm unlikely to have heard of let alone have read (Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer, Apollonius, Virgil with a Chapter on the Gilgamesh Poems; Odysseus: A Life, Ancient Epic Poetry: Homer). Yet when I heard his book, My Husband and My Wives: A Gay Man's Odyssey, discussed on Iowa Public Radio, I found many parallels with his life and my own.

We are of similar age, educated, and grew up in the Midwest. B
...more
Cat
For most of the book, I was on Beye's side- as he recounts his non-reciprocated sexual experiences with Iowa high school classmates in the 1940s; during his first marriage (to a woman); and as he describes realizing that he is gay. But as I got toward the last third of the book, Beye started to sour for me. His socially repressive childhood and the era could explain why it took him a second, very unhappy marriage (again, to a woman) to realize that he was gay. But it put me off that someone as t ...more
Julie
Charles Rowan Beye is a retired classicist whose books on epic and the Argonautica were important readings for my dissertation, and so I was immediately interested in reading his autobiography. However, it mostly focuses on his prodigious sex life. He started sexual activity with other boys when he was a teenager in Iowa City and continued at an astounding pace (described in graphic detail) throughout his life, including during his two marriages to women in the 50’s and 60’s. In between he talks ...more
Jeff
Every person's coming out story is unique, but I daresay Charlie Beye's is one of the most unusual. Beginning as an out teenager in 1940's Iowa, then a closeted twice married man and father of four in the 1950's and 60's, through a series of gay flings in the 1980's, he emerges as a happy partner in a same sex marriage in the present. Although I sometimes glazed over when the story veered into the politics of his career as a Classics academic, his story makes a fascinating read. Charming and sop ...more
Ronit
Beye is an amusing and witty raconteur as he reflects on his fist 80 years, but the most compelling material is in the book's first half, which reveals the public's permissive attitude toward homosexual behavior in the 1940s (if Beye is to be believed). It's interesting to see how gay erotic love was accepted more readily than gay romantic love, and how that changed over Beye's lifetime. But one wishes for more analysis of the shifting times and of Beye's shifting identity.
Robert E.  Kennedy Library
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Glen Retief
Sharp, smart, thoughtful and reflective memoir. Gay American 20th century life in the closet analyzed by a professor of Greek and Roman classics.
Lori
I found fascinating his life as a gay man in the 20th century. All the changes he has seen.
Cynthia King
Cynthia King marked it as to-read
Nov 19, 2014
Tami
Tami marked it as to-read
Oct 18, 2014
Martina
Martina marked it as to-read
Oct 10, 2014
Nschne
Nschne marked it as to-read
Sep 17, 2014
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