How Long Has This Been Going On?
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How Long Has This Been Going On?

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  238 ratings  ·  17 reviews
How Long Has This Been Going On? brings together a rich and varied cast of characters to tell the tale of modern gay America in this remarkable epic novel. Beginning in 1949 and moving to the present day, Mordden puts a unique and innovating spin on modern history. An adventurous, adroit, and fascinating novel by one of the finest gay writers of our time.
Paperback, Stonewall Inn Trade Paperback Edition, 604 pages
Published September 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1995)
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Best Gay Fiction
119th out of 951 books — 1,230 voters
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Best LGBTQIA literature
446th out of 727 books — 748 voters

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Community Reviews

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Jun 12, 2007 Punk rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: queer
Fiction. You know that feeling you get when you're reading a book and stubbornly wishing that the characters were gay even though you know you're only going to be disappointed? I really didn't have that problem here. Everyone in it is gay: the insecure cop working vice, the Kid putting on a burlesque act at Thriller Jill's, the golden best friends who wrestle on the floor. Gay gay gay.

The story tears through almost fifty years of gay life, from 1949 to 1991, bouncing back and forth between Los A...more
This is a classic novel, as well as a gay classic novel. This is the best novel describing the development of gay culture in the USA since the Second World War. Yet, all its literature quality makes it a) very readable and b) very readable for everyone (straight, gay or otherwise). I have once described this a compendium of American gay life; the poshest word I could come up with and rightly so. But forget all that and let Ethan Mordden take you on a literary journey. Highly Recommended Reading!
I loved it and it kept me hooked. There are several love stories and they are followed through 50 years of tribulations. Unfortunately the couple I was sympathizing with didn't have a happy ending, but I guess there's something for everybody in this book. It was hilarious at the beginning and it cracked me up and the good thing is that as it gradually got more sad and serious, it didn't lose it's appeal. I'll re-read it someday for sure.
Well, a beautiful book, large and generous and witty, beautiful and gripping for all its passing, venial, perhaps inevitable, faults - there's a certain amount of stereotyping, which would be hard to avoid in the kind of large-scale multi-charactered historical sweep this novel goes for and, substantially, achieves, and an idealisation, which is also, in one way, the point of the novel: that gay people are worth it, worth loving, worth the basic freedoms they're (we're) still struggling to ensur...more
Sarah Sammis
What Lassie? Timmy's trapped down the well and he's gay? That's what it felt like to read How Long Has This Been Going On? It is supposedly a well written epic of modern American gay history and it certainly has high reviews on but I found it annoying at worst and laughable at best.

The book covers from the end of World War Two through the mid 1990s. A lot happened in that time but I spent so much time rolling my eyes at the characters that I couldn't take the important parts seriously...more
Mordden's sprawling epic of gay life from the 1930s through the 1990s was a surprisingly easy read and one I found hard to put down. The book focuses on a fairly finite group of people: friends, lovers, patrons of a bar, and follows some of the side trails of their various lives. Though one central storyline that begins mid-novel rang very false to me (it seemed incongruous to the time it described and the characters felt less "real" than those created earlier in the book) I was pretty intently...more
I'm not into gay lit for gay lit's sake. In the same way that I find exclusively black or Asian minority writing often rather tedious because it deliberately excludes the majority. However, I really like this book and I recommend it to many friends, straight and gay.

It's not just a very expertly sculpted and very human account of the journey from grubby, secretive, 'hole in the basement' bars and anonymous sex afraid of any emotional attachment. It's also a great story to read. In many Western c...more
I wavered between finding this interesting and being supremely annoyed at how confusing this damn book was. I never understood why the characters did any of what they did, and they *never* said anything literally or directly the first time; everything was couched in metaphor, or communicated without the reader being aware of what was said, like the characters understood each other implicitly. The premise had potential - "straight" cop conducting sting operations on lonely gay men in the 1950s fa...more
Derek Gover
This book is so compelling..It is the story of a group of people whose lives touch each others over a period of 30 years or so. the main characters are a lesbian couple, a drag queen, and four gay companions. the book is narrated by one of the characters and what makes it so good is that his actual identity is kept secret until the last few pages so all the while the reader is wondering just who he is. This book is not only a good piece of fiction it is also a slice of gay history in the usa and...more
Feb 23, 2014 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: library, lgbt
Just finished this book. Very long, 600+ pages, too long in my opinion but worth the effort. Took a month to complete but that was colored by one of my dogs running away and having to spend so much of my time trying to find her. She's still missing. Anyway I'll write a longer review sometime soon but will give the book for now a 4 star rating.
Long, involved and preachy. Parts were very engaging, but so often in the effort to chronicle 40 years of gay history, characters become wooden, dialogue preachy and expository, events TOO symbolic. Have enjoyed other work of his; this seemed too ambitious.
MOST POIGNANT MOMENT: A terminally ill young man, not having the courage to say good-bye to his lover, arranges for the teddy bear that was once the lover's gift to him to be sent back to him along with a letter (signed by the teddy bear) to break the tragic news of his demise.
Epic and glorious. The sweeping saga all those other generation/lifestyle chroniclers must wish they had written. A moving portrait of four decades of gay life.
This book became a friend. I was so sad when it ended. I still pick it up every year or so to read again.
Extremely validating and insightful as well as engrossing and entertaining.
Gary Lee
Decent, if a bit cliché and overlong.
Nov 04, 2007 Trin marked it as to-read
Shelves: fiction, queerlit
Five stars from Punk.
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