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Invisible Life (Invisible Life #1)

4.3  ·  Rating Details ·  5,110 Ratings  ·  169 Reviews
Invisible Life is the story of a young man's coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler's life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren't "right." He was completely committed to Sela, h ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published February 15th 1994 by Anchor (first published December 28th 1991)
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DeMon Spencer
May 25, 2011 DeMon Spencer rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Young adults questioning their sexuality. Specifically Black males, but the story is universal.
Recommended to DeMon by: Serendipity
I'm such a huge fan of the late Mr E Lynn Harris. Following the news of his death I wrote a blog about how I came to love his books and about how he touched my life. Here's a copy of that blog:

I was very troubled to hear about the passing of Mr. Harris. To me he was more than just an author. He helped me see that being an out gay black male was possible. The way I first discovered his writing was kind of serendipitous. I was a very unhappy closeted college freshman at East Carolina University. I
Jul 25, 2009 Dennis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The passing of this lovely man will not only leave a big hole in my reading list each year but puts an end to his heartfelt and powerful exploration of these specific lives. Since I read his first four books back to back about a decade ago, I have looked forward to spending at least one weekend each summer with his characters who are in some ways so different from those that populate my caucasian agnostic Angeleno life and in other ways absolutely the same. The heroes of his books are so fundame ...more
Aug 22, 2009 Coffeeboss rated it did not like it
Having learned of author Harris via his recent death, I was curious about his introductory groundbreaking novel that was one of the first to acknowledge gay and bisexual black men on the "down low" who passed as straight. The idea of the character Ray being simultaneously in love with two perfect people (male Quinn and female Nicole) is intriguing, but the writing was, I have to say, pretty awful. Ex: "Her skin tone was a yellowish brown-waffle color," "Her skin was paper-sack brown," "I could s ...more
Abby Brithinee
Feb 07, 2013 Abby Brithinee rated it it was ok
I haven't read an LGBTQ novel since I was an undergrad, and at the time, I only read about women, so reading about coming out from the perspective of an African American man was different from most of the things I've read in the past. Ray is a closeted bisexual black man living in what I believe to be the 1980s. He was born and raised (and went to college) in Alabama, but moved to New York for law school and stayed for work and the lifestyle. In Invisible Life, he struggles with the decisions he ...more
Feb 13, 2008 Erica rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 29, 2007 Tamika rated it it was amazing
Shelves: re-read
Excerpts from my readers response notebook...

"Could you give up the lifestyle and the life?"

"But what would she disapprove of most? Would her reaction be the same if I were enjoying the same conversation with Quinn? Would she have preferred me to be dating a white woman or dating a black man?"

So I wrote these excerpts when I read this book three years ago. No clue what the context was from the story...or what my thoughts were. Presently, I don't know what would infuriate me find out t
Jan 22, 2011 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers with low expectations
Shelves: audio, black-authors
Where do i begin with this disappointing read?

I truly found this to be INSULTING to Black Women. Cowardly bisexual black men lying and cheating on women is no life for anyone. Although we live in a different time than when this was published, I am still disappointed in its embrace of racist and homophobic stereotypes.

Not only that but the writing was all over the place. There was never truly a central focus for the protagonist while the reader was subjected to frequent info-dumping.

Had this be
May 10, 2013 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Incredible read on bisexuality and masking it. I can see why E. Lynn Harris was so highly praised for this back when this first came out. 'Invisible Life' touches on every heartbeat of how one can understand, accept and cope with their sexuality on top of being a person of color. Smooth, honest, and comfortable storytelling. It's almost serene reading this after so many years of social and political change surrounding LGBT and sexual liberation.
Rating - 4.85/5
Winter Sophia Rose
Aug 13, 2015 Winter Sophia Rose rated it it was amazing
Eye Opening, Deep, Heart Wrenching, Engrossing, Insightful & Touching! An Excellent Read! I Loved It!
Jan 11, 2016 Dan rated it liked it
In the vein of the Tales of the City books with a pinch more concern for middle-class respectability. The main tension is around whether or not Raymond, a bisexual man, will pick the gay life or the straight one. Throughout we get a lot of hand-wringing over which gender he prefers in bed and emotionally. He's dealing with an embarrassment of riches here since his girlfriend and boyfriend (though he never uses that word) are both, seemingly, awesome people and great lays.

It was hard for me to r
Jul 05, 2008 Serenity rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Serenity by: a friend in college
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 06, 2009 Shiloh rated it it was ok
My review has spoilers...

I didn't think this story was bad enough to be filed in my Sucked Shelf, but it was pretty awful. It read like it was written by a ten year old--lots of simple sentences and a shallow protagonist. It was really hard to root for Ray, a gay man living in the 80's who has accepted the fact that he's gay but chooses to string along women to keep the gay part of him a secret. He's very judgmental of others and how they choose to live: Kyle, for example, who becomes an escort
Nov 23, 2008 Michael- rated it really liked it
Ground breaking, inspiring and life changing. This book opened many doors for black LGBT authors, yet closed many closet doors tighter.

The story was very dear to me because many of the places in New York City I came out in were mentioned. However, it also changed the black gay community forever. This book is seen as an exposé by some and sent some black men who were straddling the fence running for the hills. It also got black women up in arms and left them with little trust in their counterpar
Sep 13, 2007 Larry rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
I really like his books and am glad that there is a black gay author out there writing books about the gay black experience even if he is not strictly considered a gay author in his own community. Black woman are said to be his biggest readers and supporters. I know a lot of gay men that wont read his books because he makes most of his charecters bi sexual and not wholly gay. Personally I think that he depicts the down low black man as accurately as any one else. I have read several of his books ...more
Apr 15, 2008 Natalie rated it really liked it
Invisible life introduces us to Raymond Jr. Raymond is a bisexual male confused with his sexuality. This first novel by E.Lynn Harris takes you through the life of Raymond beginning in his college years. From there we learn the triumphs of being a bisexual Black man in America. I truly enjoyed this novel by E.Lynn. I felt the story read very smoothly and his writing style is GREAT. I read this book in 5 hours and can't wait to pick up part two.
Jan 08, 2008 Susan rated it it was amazing
E. Lynn Harris was in Seattle recently promoting his latest book. I read a couple of interviews with him that peeked my interest so I got his first book - this one and read it. It's really an easy read and a really interesting view into the life of a black gay man. As a white straight woman, this is a world I honestly don't know at all and this small novel was a really interesting read.
Sep 03, 2013 Nicole rated it it was amazing
Sign....its unfortunate that I had to visit a throwback to get this kind of literary satisfaction. This was the perfect romance to read. I really enjoyed the writing style and passionate expressions on love and utter confusion. Raymond was a powerful force to reckon with, having been the alpha and omega. Chin chin and RIP Mr Harris.
Tony Huggz
Jul 27, 2011 Tony Huggz rated it it was amazing
A great read to the trilogy and it all plays an important part in his later books.
Oct 22, 2008 Christy rated it did not like it
What could have been a timely exploration of sexual confusion and the AIDS epidemic ended up being a Sweet Valley High book for gay dudes.
Virgowriter (Brad Windhauser)
May 09, 2017 Virgowriter (Brad Windhauser) rated it really liked it
Interesting intersection of bisexuality, race, and religion (near the end); all against a backdrop of the emergence of AIDS. Feels honest, although at times a bit preachy, stereotypical of the struggles and how narrator feels might be a way out--though that is likely the author' point, to criticize that type of thinking.
Jun 03, 2017 Annie rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The story was fine, but the writing was not.
Jul 26, 2009 Phoebe rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Janelle Williams
Mar 10, 2013 Janelle Williams rated it liked it
Was it well written?

It read like an author’s first novel. In saying that, I mean that the story was supremely raw. I found that some of the transitions could have been better executed, but then again, maybe his staccato way of writing added to the realness of the story.

Was I able to connect with the story?

Like many readers (I suppose), I think I was a bit frightened of connecting too well with this story. Opening this book I had the same feeling I had when I first listened to Frank Ocean’s Chan
Nov 29, 2010 Tasha rated it really liked it
This novel chronicles the life and discovery of Raymond Tyler who is struggling with his sexuality. Raymond has had one serious girlfriend since high school until his senior year in college when he falls in love with a man. Raymond has to keep his sexuality a secret because not only is his male love a jock, but they are both black and living in the South.

After college Raymond moves to NYC and leads a somewhat more open bisexual life. He frequents gay bars and has both straight and gay sexual enc
Jan 27, 2015 Boyinblue rated it it was amazing
This and pretty much the rest of Harris' books are the reason why he is my favorite author. This book is interesting, captivating, mesmerizing, and has some of the most beautiful storytelling elements I've seen in this particular genre. The novel speaks to me and relates to me personally in many ways, but is also different from me and my situation in others. Thus, I feel that it is a very good read for everyone, not just gay Black men.

I would be a liar not to admit that a lot of the sex scenes
Tamara Evans
Nov 10, 2007 Tamara Evans rated it it was amazing
The first time I read this book, I was completely blown away. Never before had I read a book which was so true it was scary. "Invisible Life" managed to do what most books hadn't done before, tell what it feels like to come to terms with your sexuality realistically. By this, I mean that most of the times I read books in which the character was gay, the author would sugar coat the issue or worse, spend most of the book debating about the pros and cons of "coming out".

However what E. Lynn Harris
Sep 17, 2012 Eryn rated it it was amazing
This is how it all began with this book. How I have grown to love the characters. This book just brings back memories. I remember borrowing this book from my sister and then I was hooked. Who can forget Basil Henderson. If your looking at this review to see if you want to read this book, read; and read all of them. I didn't have the pleasure to read them back to back, as they came out at different times. I will say as an afterthough that this is about gay people, so if your against gay and lesbi ...more
Okay so as I stated I am recently getting into E.Lynn Harris books, unfortunately after he passed away but better late than never..I am trying to understand his popularity and learn something new about the secretive but oh so intriguing life of brothers who date other brothers but dont consider themselves gay..In this book the protagonist Raymond is approached his senior year of college when he is deep in love with his high school sweetheart about having a homosexual affair, he goes through with ...more
Sep 16, 2008 Trina rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE with an open mind...
Reading this book was the first time I felt like I was not broken inside.

I can not explain it other than saying this book is amazing b/c it takes you through the journey of REAL SELF discovery. It shows the high's and low's of being a member of the silent minority embed within the LGBT community.

Oh and this book WELL PREDATES any book on the topic "The DOWN LOW" and just looks at the journey of learning to follow your heart, even when that is NOT the easy choice to be made. I absolutely love it
Feb 20, 2011 Bradley rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2011
In February I set a goal to read more African-American lit. I don't think that a book should be labeled "black" or "gay" or "woman's" because the label might turn people off of what might be a really great story.

Invisible Life isn't a great story. But I still enjoyed it. It's about an African-American guy coming to terms with his bisexuality during the early 80's. The book touches on serious subjects but it's written in a way where it seems frothy and fluffy. Some days I can appreciate that, oth
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E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. He attended the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville where he was the school's first black yearbook editor, the first black male Razorbacks cheerleader, and the president of his fraternity. He graduated with honors with a degree in journalism.

Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard,
More about E. Lynn Harris...

Other Books in the Series

Invisible Life (3 books)
  • Just as I Am
  • Abide With Me

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“luck runs out but blessings never do!” 39 likes
“my heart knows who i am and who i'll turn out to be!” 23 likes
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