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Living Upstairs (Nathan Reed #1)
Joseph Hansen has been praised by The New York Times as "one of the best we have" and by the Boston Globe as among "our finest writers". Known for his bestselling Dave Brandstetter series, Hansen here tells a richly atmospheric story of a young homosexual man's coming of age. Nominated for a Lambda Literary Award.
Paperback, 218 pages
Published September 1st 1994 by Plume
(first published September 1st 1993)
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Ever since I discovered the Dave Brandstetter mysteries, I've always had a soft spot for Joseph Hansen's writing. "Living Upstairs" set in Los Angeles in 1943-44 is primarily the coming of age story of its main protagonist, Nathan Reed, a gay Minnesota transplant who has come to L.A. to - God help us - write his first novel. Oh, and to come to term with his sexuality. And figure out why his boyfriend, Hoyt, has been acting so strangely. Deal with the creepy FBI agent who has been tracking them ...more
Hansen will be remembered fondly for his Dave Brandsteter mystery novels, not this novel. Nonetheless, "Living Upstairs" maintains reader interest because of Hansen's accurate recreation of WWII era Los Angeles and the gay men who were left behind (for whatever reason). The book had too many improbable plot twists for me, but you'll likely find yourself identifying with the main character, an aspiring writer who struggles to make ends meet while maintaining a relationship with an artist. ...more
I enjoyed it right up until the end. Hoyt and Nathan were perfect together and then right at the end the author stabs you through the heart, and then twists the knife with the news that Flora Bella tells Nathan. I would rate it higher except I am pissed with the ending.
Before I read Hansen's Dave Brandstetter detective series, I read his later novels Living Upstairs and Jack of Hearts, which I treasure for the author's memories of a 1940s L.A. and for depicting a gay presence then and there. In Living Upstairs, Nathan's in love with Hoyt and living with him, both young men cash-strapped. "The only clean shirt he can find has buttons missing, but he doesn't care. With the shirt flapping open, he runs across to the market." Easy picture on the eyes, no? ...more
This is my fourth or fifth Hansen book, and I thought it was going to be a favorite, but for me that remains A Smile in His Lifetime, (though I still really hate that title). Hansen is great at characterization and snappy dialogue. He's also great at scene-setting, building mystery, and dread. This book builds very slowly. The stakes feel low, or underdeveloped. They start to rise more dramatically in the middle, but in the final scenes we get a red herring of a conflict and the story's main sou ...more
Giving this book three stars is probably being a little unfair, since the copy I bought was missing its ending. But that's why I can't rate it higher. I did enjoy as much of it as I'd read, but I have no idea how it ended. At the time I wasn't able to get hold of another copy, so I'm still in the dark.
Joseph Hansen (1923–2004) was an American author of mysteries. The son of a South Dakota shoemaker, he moved to a California citrus farm with his family in 1936. He began publishing poetry in the New Yorker in the 1950s, and joined the editorial teams of gay magazines ONE and Tangents in the 1960s. Using the pseudonyms Rose Brock and James Colton, Hansen published five novels and a collection of ...moreMore about Joseph Hansen...
Other Books in the Series
Nathan Reed (3 books)