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Like People in History

3.96 of 5 stars 3.96  ·  rating details  ·  1,150 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Cousins Roger and Alistair become lifelong friends when they meet as boys in 1954. They discover their homosexuality and their lives intersect against the backdrop of 20th-century gay culture, from the beachboy surfer days of the 1960s, to Greenwich Village AIDS activism in the 1990s.
Paperback, 528 pages
Published June 6th 1996 by Little Brown and Company (first published July 3rd 1995)
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Jack To my mind, this is far and away his best book. THE BOOK OF LIES is another sprawling novel, with a sensational story and powerful erotic currents.…moreTo my mind, this is far and away his best book. THE BOOK OF LIES is another sprawling novel, with a sensational story and powerful erotic currents. THE LURE is pretty terrible, and THE NEW YORK YEARS reads like snippets from his novels. If I were to recommend only one other Picano book, it would def be THE BOOK OF LIES.

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Though published over 10 years ago, Like People In History is one of my favorite books by Felice Picano; I've read the book three times now during that time. The friendship, deep bond and admiration Roger and Alistair have for each other friendship is palbable. I'm sure many boys will be reminded of similar friends they grew up with, some harboring secret crushes. At times funny, sexy, tragic and sad, Like People In History is a must-read for any gay man and those looking for a story that define ...more
Jean Marie Angelo
I was pulled in at the opening and I cried at the ending. My issue is with everything in between. The author has some wondeful passages, but then hits on spots that could have used better editing. He builds a great duality with two cousins — each gay —who live though four decades of coming out, competing with each other, and ultimately caring for each other. Problem is, the writing is uneven and, at times, sexist and racist. There are comments and actions that sometimes don't fit with the charac ...more
This is one of the best gay novels ever written!
An epic story of gay life spanning the late twentieth century from a childhood in the 50's to the days of AIDS activism in the early 1990's. An early chapter left me wanting to be an adolescent in Southern California in the early 60's, though that would make one the right age for Vietnam and the full onslaught of AIDS. Along the way the novel touches on San Francisco opera queens, the glory days of disco on Fire Island, New York bathhouses, and hospital rooms with dying loved ones.
While some pa
Daniel Taylor
The cover blurb describes how each of the two main characters – Roger Sansarc, and his second cousin, Alistair Dodge – discover their own "unique - and uniquely gay - identity". Through the process of following the relationship of these characters across four decades, it has helped me dust off the glitter on the faded red sequined hot pants of my own gay identity.

The two first meet as nine-year-old boys and Alistair seems to have everything that the "ordinary" Rog could want. Alistair is a manip
I found Like People in History a wildly uneven book, veering as it did from a mildly trashy “beach read” to a more serious attempt at gay literary fiction, with neither part being convincing or very good. The story begins in the 50’s, threading throughout its narrative the Vietnam War, Stonewall, the wild post-liberation 70’s scene of Fire Island et al, the devastation of AIDS in the 80’s, and ending in the early 90’s while the crisis was still raging. Picano centers the story on two cousins, th ...more
Michael Reed
This book is about the late '70s early '80s when HIV/AIDS began to destroy much of a whole generation of us.
It was described as the Gay Gone With The Wind. That, however, is a big challenge which I think it fell far short of. But, it doesn't have to be GWTW to be good.
I enjoyed the first 2/3rds or so until everyone was doing everyone else on Fire Island including the protagonist...relationships notwithstanding. Having never desired anything but monogamy during my few romantic involvements and pe
Adam O'leary
Predictable high camp with clumsy prose and an irritating fascination with name-dropping luxury goods and brands, but incorporating a broad sweep of 20th century gay history and some touching scenes of how HIV/AIDS affected the gay community.
Brandon Shire
Enjoyed it. Recommended for the gaylit crowd.
While this book would've really benefited from a good editor, it was still a pretty enjoyable read. A big, sprawling, campy retelling of American history from the early 1960s through the 1980s from the perspective of a young gay writer. I'd recommend it less for its craft and more as an archive of (mostly white, mostly male) gay social life. The frame narrative is confusing and unnecessary, but the lengthy flashback sections give a great sense of the vibrancy of gay society in New York, especial ...more
Rating this book is difficult, but I'll give it three starts pretty much just because this book is very uneven. Some part were very good (basically everything before 1969, 1985 and present day/1991) while I found the other parts a little boring at times. I loved the width of this book, and how it managed to include lots of America's gay history. I teared up at the end of the book and even though I hated Alistair for most of the book, I almost cheered out loud when he did the right thing (for onc ...more
I stopped reading this book on page 457 (or was it 447?) due to a lack of interest. That said, I don't regret reading the previous 456 (446) pages. It was a good book, as books go, and an ambitious one. But a problem with the sweeping novel can be sweeping the characters away, which is what happened hear. There are elements of a character study, but no character, and alas!, is probed. There's action! But the action is sporadic and, if anyone's read E.M. Forester's Aspects of the Novel, amounts t ...more
Carlos Mock
Like People in History by Felice Picano

I just finished reading Felice Picano's Like People in history for the fifth time and I'm happy to report the book withstands the passage of time. i found it as relevant today as when I first read it in the late 90's.

The book takes place in 1991, when Roger Sansarc and his current HIV positive lover and ACT UP activist Wally are on the way to a demonstration at Gracie Mansion. On their way, the duo makes a detour to Rogers's dying cousin, Alistair Dodge, t
Derek Gover
Another gay history published as fiction but covering a significant period of US Gay history. This book follows the lives of two cousins and the people they meet during their lives. It covers the period from their childhood in the early 50s through the stonewall era and the onset of AIDS and deals with the love/hate relationship of the two vastly different main characters..Again a book worth reading because it is good fiction but also because of its insight into the era
A totally enjoyable albeit somewhat long book. I'm just half through it. The only part of the book that I have found uninteresting was in Book Four Chain of Fools when 2 of the characters who are both opera queens have lengthy conversations about works of opera. I'm sure if I were an opera aficionado I would have delighted in this as well. I simply skimmed through most of their conversations since it was so out of my league.
Jun 03, 2008 Hope added it
An interesting read, but probably not one I would read over and over again. One reviewer said a gay "Gone With the Wind." Nowhere close to that kind of story telling, in my opinion. It maybe helped me understand a little more of gay culture, especially gay men's culture.
Spanning around thirty five years starting 1954 we follow the spasmocically interweaving lives of two boys, second cousins, both gay. Roger Sansarc, the narrator, and Alastair Dodge are to look at more like brothers, but there the similarity ends. Alastair is the polar opposite of the staid, conservative Roger. Not surprisingly their relationship is volatile, with Alastair invariably the one to light the fuse.

It is Alastair who awakens Roger to his gayness by virtually offering him to another.
I read this book a good five or so years ago. I bought it, then didn't read it for a while, read the first half... didn't read it for a while... then picked it up again and read it in five days flat. I have to say it was one of my favorite books at the time, and I still hold it in high regard.
I liked this book, but found it a little preachy and melodramatic. That the protagonist just happened to be present at almost every seminal Event in gay history?
Disappointing. Read years back and, tough enjoyable at times, I found it totally over-rated
Chris Hooper
If you were too young to live it, read it. An amazing book
A fun collection of characters and romp through gay history (the book starts in the 50s and 60s, ends in the 90s, and visits locales like Fire Island, San Francisco, and Manhattan). Edmund White proclaims it as "the book we've been waiting for" on the cover, "the gay Gone With the Wind." While I haven't read Gone With the Wind, my guess is that the scope of this book falls a bit short. The political and human-scale dust-ups feel more episodic than visceral. They're enjoyable to read, and Alistai ...more
Epic book was epic! A portrait of gay America during 4 decades, all seen through the eyes of two cousins who are both friends and foes (and of course, who are both gay). I liked the way the narrative alternates between the present (1991) and various important historical times, this is nothing new but it was well done IMO. I also think Picano really has a way with words and enjoyed his writing quite a lot.

(...) that radiator chugged and rattled and spouted, and its whistle hissed out steam so no
Richard Jespers
Perhaps the gay Gone With the Wind, a rotten dubious honor. The first part was all right. Unrealistic? Cardboard characters? Woodstock? Finished it only because I felt like I should, not because it was worthy of my time. And I LOVE Felice Picano!
John Treat
This may be Picano's best. It takes some patience to get through, especially if you're not charmed by opera in San Francisco or drugs on Fire Island. But the fate of these gay men --Roger, Alistair and Matt-- is epic. A classic of what was.
Chuck Rankin
This is one of the best books I have ever read....but it is time for me to re-read it...and I have not found in my stacks.

Easy flowing....time honored reflecting the best of the gay emergence times....
b. binaohan
I wanted to like this, but Ethan Mordden's "How long has this been going on?" is similar is scope/topic but much better.

Picano just isn't a very good writer.
There is a great book somewhere inside these 512 pages
Shane Moxey
One of my favourites.
Peter Hanrahan
Enjoyable reading.
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