In the future, a group of people volunteer for a scientific experiment in which they agree to immerse themselves in a community mimicking long-gone 20...moreIn the future, a group of people volunteer for a scientific experiment in which they agree to immerse themselves in a community mimicking long-gone 20th Century life. The protagonist, Robin, signs up to escape people who are trying to kill her. I mean, him. Technically Robin is a dude. But he spends most of the book trapped in a female body, and he mostly just reads as a woman—as an awesome, interesting heroine. It's kind of sad that one of the few ways we get male SF/F writers writing interesting women is when they think they're writing men, but it works to our advantage in this case, I suppose.
This was generally a quite fun "fight the power" yarn (the experimenters are up to no good, surprise surprise). I enjoyed the hints of backstory—the history of the Censorship Wars and the genesis of the very creepy (and wonderfully named) virus Curious Yellow. There were also some neat tricks worked with Robin's first person POV. The book's ending, however, was rather too rushed and pat; saying "And then we fought a big battle and kicked some ass" is really not the same as showing a big battle being fought and some ass being kicked. In general, this was interesting and enjoyable sci-fi, but it really didn't transcend the genre.(less)
Following the death by suicide of an old college friend, Calvin Trillin tells the story of Denny's life and analyzes the things that may have led him...moreFollowing the death by suicide of an old college friend, Calvin Trillin tells the story of Denny's life and analyzes the things that may have led him to end it. A Yale golden boy whose graduation was covered by Life magazine, Denny seemed to have limitless promise—his friends used to joke constantly (but semi-seriously) about him one day becoming president—but after two years at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar, and following a rejection from the Foreign Service, his career never seemed to reach the heights others had anticipated. In talking with Denny's post-college friends, Trillin is also surprised to discover that Denny's personal life was troubled; he struggled with his homosexuality—something Trillin himself never knew about—and suffered deep bouts of depression. Trillin's exploration of this singular, personal tragedy raises a lot of interesting questions about youthful pressures and expectations, about 1950s America, and about how destructive something like the country's negative attitude toward anything but perfectly conforming straightness can be. This book almost seems like what The Great Gatsby would have been if it was a) a true story, b) set three decades later, and c) starred Tom Buchanan—a much more sympathetic Tom Buchanan—as the main character. A truly fascinating read.
The third in Tanya Huff's Smoke series, which is in turn a spin-off of her Blood series. You don't really need to have read that, though; I've only r...moreThe third in Tanya Huff's Smoke series, which is in turn a spin-off of her Blood series. You don't really need to have read that, though; I've only read the first of the Blood books, and I'm following these just fine. More than fine—I adore these books. The first ( Smoke and Shadows) was a little slow getting going, but they just keep getting better. And if you like humorous, meta, slashy sci-fi/fantasy adventures, then these books are tailor-made for you, man. The main character, Tony, is a PA on a Vancouver-produced vampire detective TV show, but what he knows and the rest of the people in the production don't is that all that supernatural stuff is real, and he has the somewhat awkward relationship with his vamp ex-lover to prove it. What I'm really loving about this series is that as supernatural things keep happening to Tony, his friends and co-workers don't stay oblivious, but become more and more involved; there's a great sense of community and family with this wacky little production company, and it's just terrific. Plus, the characters are hilarious, there's tons of meta-humor, and the slow build in the relationship between Tony and Lee, one of the stars of the show, is fantastic. Okay, and if that doesn't sell you: this third volume includes a threesome in the solution to save the world. World-saving threesomes: how can you not be all over that? *g*(less)
Following a suicide attempt, Berman's nameless teen protagonist starts being able to see and speak to ghosts. He also falls in love with one: the spir...moreFollowing a suicide attempt, Berman's nameless teen protagonist starts being able to see and speak to ghosts. He also falls in love with one: the spirit of a high school jock who was hit by a car in 1957. It's every emo kid's dream, right? Ahh, but of course there is a catch—namely, that the ghost, Josh, has major jealousy issues; his death may have been related to the fact that he thought his boyfriend, Roddy, was cheating on him with another guy.
Berman does a great job with atmosphere—his spirits are really creepy, and he achieves this without the slightest bit of Stephen King- (or even Sixth Sense-) level gore. He also creates for the nameless narrator a really interesting group of friends: goth gal extreme Trace; Trace's intriguing younger brother, Second Mike; girlfriends-on-the-outs Maggie and Liz. (Though why the fifth, Kim, is always referred to as "the annoying Asian girl" or "the skinny Asian girl" is beyond me. Dude, we get it: SHE'S ASIAN. Did someone of Asian-extraction dent your car or something?) Oddly, though, despite its promising beginnings, the book actually becomes less suspenseful as it goes along; the climax was not nearly as intense or as frightening as it ought to have been. The book is still compelling, but it needed a little extra oomph at the end. (Maybe Bruce Willis should've shown up just so the narrator could tell him he was already dead.)(less)
In a quantum computing accident worthy of a Stargate episode, a Neanderthal physicist from a parallel Earth where Homo sapiens died out while Homo nea...moreIn a quantum computing accident worthy of a Stargate episode, a Neanderthal physicist from a parallel Earth where Homo sapiens died out while Homo neanderthalensis (or Homo sapiens neanderthalensis, if you prefer) thrived is sucked into our world. He's rescued from drowning by physics postdoc Louise Benoît, put under the medical care of Dr. Reuben Montego, and befriended by geneticist Mary Vaughan. Meanwhile, back in Ponter's, the Neanderthal's, world, his work and life partner Adikor is accused of his murder...
Most of this novel's focus is on comparing the Neanderthals' culture with ours: they live in a society where men and women are treated equally, but live separately; where everyone has two romantic partners, a man-mate and a woman-mate; and where crime has been almost eradicated through alibi cubes—monitoring devices implanted in everyone's wrists—chemical personality readjustment, and the forced sterilization not just of convicted criminals, but also of their immediate families. While I'll admit that our world is hugely fucked up—a fact Sawyer conveyed by having a man rape Mary when she's walking home from work; an event he dealt with well, I suppose, but which I still found traumatizing—Ponter's world didn't seem so great to me, either. Parts of this are addressed when Adikor is falsely accused and has to struggle to prove his innocence—oh yeah, was it mentioned that in Neanderthal land you're guilty until proved innocent?—but in general, Sawyer seemed to think that this alternate system he came up with was just AWESOME. Now, maybe this will be further addressed in the next two books in the series, but any society where forced sterilization = fantabulous legal policy is also pretty fucked in my mind. (I'm not so fond of the "women living separately from the men" idea, either.)
When the two societies were merely contrasted, I found this book very interesting; I also liked how Sawyer showed the rest of the world's reaction to Ponter. However, that the book seemed to come down so much in favor of the Neanderthal way was troubling to me. I mean, not only did Ponter have his "I am so ashamed of what you humans have done to this planet" moment, Mary had a "sterilization FTW!" one. I hope the next book readdresses this disparity; it would be much more interesting if the series were about how two societies can learn from each other, rather than how some Other can save us from ourselves. (With castration! It's fun for the whole family!)(less)
Keenan, a former writer/producer of Fraiser (which I don't believe I have ever actually seen a full episode of), does an impressive job with this come...moreKeenan, a former writer/producer of Fraiser (which I don't believe I have ever actually seen a full episode of), does an impressive job with this comedic novel about a trio of screenwriters, an old Hollywood family with a whole heap of skeletons in its Bel-Air closets, and a newly opened spa/gay brothel. Much of the plot—which is actually incredibly tightly-woven, with many seemly insignificant details having surprising payoffs—revolves around the efforts of starstruck Philip to help protect movie star Stephen Donato from being outed as gay by his memoir-writing aunt; however, as one would expect, nothing goes quite as planned. This book is very funny (choice line: "Here was no brainless Hollywood hunk. Here was a man of vision, a passionate and sensitive idealist, and I prayed with all my heart that he might someday instill these noble qualities in me, preferably via fellatio." Hee!), and sufficiently sharp-edged if never too nasty. I think what Keenan was aiming for was something like Jeeves and Wooster Do Hollywood, and he's not far off.(less)
While sharing several plot points (not to mention a title word!) with My Lucky Star, this book is much more serious—and much less enjoyable. Converse...moreWhile sharing several plot points (not to mention a title word!) with My Lucky Star, this book is much more serious—and much less enjoyable. Conversely, it would seem, Byrnes' novel's best parts are some of the more serious ones—toward the beginning, there's some interesting discussion about the politics of coming out, mostly based around the book protagonist Noah Abraham is trying (and failing) to write about closeted congressional staffers. Noah abandons this project, however, when he meets Bart, personal assistant to former movie star Quinn Scott, who Bart reveals is not only gay, but has been secretly living in Long Island with his partner for thirty-six years. Noah must then try to convince Quinn to let him ghostwrite a tell-all, even if it invokes the wrath of Quinn's ex-wife, the Hollywood heavyweight Kitty Randolph.
There are several problems with this book. First, it's too long; everything—Noah meeting Bart, Noah convincing Quinn, Kitty's machinations—takes much too long to occur. Second, none of the characters are really done any justice; Noah is barely in the last third of the book, and Bart remains as flat as a backlot prop. Why do he and Noah fall in love? 'Cause they're there? How very romantic.
And that's the male characters. The female ones, well. Noah's mom is out of the picture. (After several mentions of the fact that she eats her salad in an annoying way. Clearly, she deserves to die! Or, well, move to Florida.) Noah's dad's third wife is a dopey fag-hag lush. Then there are some other bitchy women, and of course Kitty, who is an absolute monster. Which might fly if the rest of the novel were a bit broader, but it can't really seem to decide if it's a wacky comedy or a serious issues piece. To be both requires a delicate balancing act, and whoops, I think Byrnes just got egg on himself.(less)
This is a novel, written by a physicist, about two early 20th century mathematicians, Kurt Gödel—most famous for his incompleteness theorems—and Alan...moreThis is a novel, written by a physicist, about two early 20th century mathematicians, Kurt Gödel—most famous for his incompleteness theorems—and Alan Turing—best known for his World War II cryptology work and for the Turing Test. Both Gödel and Turing led fascinating and tragic lives, and Levin seizes on some of the interesting parallels between them (they never actually met—they kept just missing each other). Levin presents the main instances from their lives in a highly compelling way, and with a sort of dreamy madness, fitting to both men (Gödel went insane; Turing never really excelled at the basics of human interaction and was thought to have maybe been a high-functioning autistic). The stories themselves have a lot of power, with Gödel starving himself to death and Turing being basically tortured by his own government—even though he was a war hero!—because he was gay; he finally poisoned himself with a cyanide-laced apple. However, Levin never really draws any larger conclusion or brings the two threads of the story together in any way. She herself is something of a third shadow character in the story, and she says that she doesn’t know how to start or end the tale without being a liar—a sentiment I relate to, especially when I try to construct in my head ways to do a Muybridge novel, for example. But while I recognize that real life—that truth—doesn’t always make for the most satisfying narratives…well, this is a novel, and one in which other creative licenses are taken (Levin lists the major ones at the back of the book), and I can’t help but wish for it to be more satisfying. More cohesive. It’s still a fascinating, well-written book, but I think it would have made a better nonfiction work.(less)
A Finnish book, which is not something I ordinarily get to say. This novel was flawed, but overall I really loved it. It takes place in an alternate u...moreA Finnish book, which is not something I ordinarily get to say. This novel was flawed, but overall I really loved it. It takes place in an alternate universe where trolls were discovered to be a real, living species in the early part of the 20th century. Mikael, a photographer, finds a troll cub who’s somehow stumbled into the city, and takes him in. Their relationship is…not something I can easily describe, but it’s more than a little disturbing, oddly alluring, and completely captivating. The narrative—especially the dénouement—is a little rushed, but it was successful in that it left me wanting more but not frustrated with the conclusion. Even the rapidly shifting POV, not something I usually enjoy, worked for me here. According to her bio, Sinisalo has written many other books, but unfortunately this seems to be the only one (besides a short story anthology to which she contributed) that’s been translated into English. How frustrating, because I’d really like to read more of her work. Still, I’m glad I got to read this, and if you can find it—I had to track it down through intramural library loans—I heartily recommend it. It’s unusual and seductive and creepy. One of my favorite combinations!(less)
The first in a sort of spin-off series from the Outlander books, which I have not read. Or rather, I started reading Outlander but stopped after abou...moreThe first in a sort of spin-off series from the Outlander books, which I have not read. Or rather, I started reading Outlander but stopped after about 100 pages because I just couldn’t get into it. I had a similar problem here. This is historical fiction, set in mid-18th Century England. (A period I was pretty appalled to realize I have rather limited knowledge of; limited, I mean, to Tom Jones—and not even the book, the movie!) Lord John Grey is a fairly interesting character: he’s gay, the first man he loved died tragically, and the second is in another country and in love with someone else. The plot seems like it could be interesting too: Grey accidentally observes that the man who’s engaged to his young cousin has the pox and must find a way to break off the engagement; there’s also a murder that may or may not be connected. Right away you’ve got promise of trips into London’s underbelly, full of brothels and molly-houses. And yet…I just couldn’t get into it, man! I mean, unlike Outlander, I did manage to finish, but I just never felt engaged, never felt involved. It’s not that it was bad—although the several chapters of infodump toward the end were not my favorite thing ever; in fact, I’m sure lots of you would actually enjoy it quite a lot. I think this may just be one of those things where a certain author’s style just doesn’t work for me. I’ll recognize that something is good or at least competent, but it’s just not for me. Based more on style than on topic, which seems odd, but I guess it can happen. The synapses fail to connect. I can’t get emotionally involved, and thus I can’t really care about what I’m reading.(less)
This book was incredibly frustrating. I stumbled across it at the library and picked it up because I’d heard that it’s being made into a movie starrin...moreThis book was incredibly frustrating. I stumbled across it at the library and picked it up because I’d heard that it’s being made into a movie starring John Cusack. I was also somewhat intrigued by the premise, which is based on the author’s own life: a single, gay sci-fi writer decides he wants to adopt a kid, but the boy he becomes committed to is very troubled and thinks he (the boy) is a Martian. My main worry going in was that it was going to be too saccharine (favorable comparisons to Tuesdays with Morrie on the front cover are actually more likely to deter me than make me read something); it mostly wasn’t. Instead, however, it’s incredibly scattered. The book starts out at a fairly normal pace, but halfway through Gerrold abruptly changes gears and goes from describing how he tried to help his adopted son, Dennis, to adjust, to actually—though self-consciously—thinking that Dennis may really be from Mars. Then that line of thought is abruptly abandoned. Other seemingly major incidents—like a conflict with intolerant neighbors that we’re told resulted in legal action—are glossed over in a paragraph or two, while other (lame) running jokes and frankly irrelevant thoughts on the nature of storytelling are given pages of pages of time. It’s a mess. A well-intended mess, but a mess.
Oddly, I do think this could make a good movie, if whoever’s adapting it gives it some badly-needed structure. Although—guess what?—a quick check of IMDb reveals that in the film, Cusack’s character is suddenly straight. Sigh.(less)
Like Kluger’s Last Days of Summer, this is entirely froth—but it’s cute and funny, and dude, sometimes you need that. This has the additional draw of...moreLike Kluger’s Last Days of Summer, this is entirely froth—but it’s cute and funny, and dude, sometimes you need that. This has the additional draw of being an all-too-rare gay romance, wherein our couple, Craig and Travis, meet in high school, fall in love, get separated by college, and then try to reunite 20 years later. The characters and situations are all suitably wacky, but Kluger does add a touch of seriousness here and there—Craig is a human rights lawyer who’s thinking of running for office. Further, Craig’s partner of 12 years is incredibly likeable, and Kluger doesn’t take the easy way out by villainizing him so he and Craig can break up and Craig and Travis can rush back into each other’s arms. (Actually, I kind of wanted the opposite to happen—for Travis to get over Craig and find somebody else; possibly Julian the librarian who plays a part early on in the book, and who yes, I kept picturing as Julian Lodge.) The ending is unfortunately a little rushed, with too many events happening “off-screen,” as it were, but hey: published fluffy gay romance! Good for what ails ya!(less)
I loved this. I am shocked and delighted by how much I loved this. It’s an original world combined with all the pleasures of a really slashy bit of fa...moreI loved this. I am shocked and delighted by how much I loved this. It’s an original world combined with all the pleasures of a really slashy bit of fanfic. There are slavefic and wingfic elements, and demons and destiny, and it all sounds really cheesy, but like really good fic, it transcends these clichés. The relationship between Aleksander and Seyonne is beautifully developed: they begin as master and slave, and we get to see the whole process of Aleksander gaining maturity and compassion, and Seyonne regaining himself. Plus there’s a really thrilling quest-y adventure, and an intensely exciting climactic battle in which…well, it would spoil it to say, but know that I made a very loud squeeing noise. Even without actually being slash, this book is the slasher’s dream come true. I only hope the next two volumes in the trilogy are half as good.(less)
A beautiful and thought-provoking but very difficult read. Haslett’s short stories share themes of mental illness, suicide, alienation and grief—boy,...moreA beautiful and thought-provoking but very difficult read. Haslett’s short stories share themes of mental illness, suicide, alienation and grief—boy, do I make this book sound fun! But these stories are striking, and Haslett’s prose is beautiful. “The Beginnings of Grief,” about the violent relationship an orphaned boy tumbles into with a brutal classmate, was especially compelling to me, as was the story about a grown up brother and sister living together, haunted by the memory of their mother’s suicide and the man they both loved. Plus, “Notes to My Biographer” has one of the most startling and effective descriptions of schizophrenia that I’ve ever encountered. These stories are stark and incredible, but not recommended reading if you’re feeling the least bit emotionally vulnerable!(less)
Novel about a group of gay teens who form a secret support group for themselves under the guise of the (they think) too-boring-for-anyone-to-join Geog...moreNovel about a group of gay teens who form a secret support group for themselves under the guise of the (they think) too-boring-for-anyone-to-join Geography Club. The best thing about this was probably the voice of the narrator, Russel, who sounds like a real teenager—just innocent enough, stupid enough, angry enough, moral enough, self-involved/confused/horny/mixed-up/self-aware enough. The plot is pretty predictable, but except for a few anvil-y moments (like when Russel explains, in parentheticals, how a self-sacrificing classmate is like Jesus, in a way), it’s well-told. I guess the biggest problem for me is that I’m too old for this book; like a lot of teen lit, it’s really about a lesson, and I already know that tolerance is important and that you can’t be someone you’re not and that high school really, really sucks. So while I don’t think it’s possible for me to really get all that much out of this book, I’m glad that it exists. When you’re a teenager—gay or straight—it’s helpful just to know that you’re not alone, that you’re not the only one who feels as fucked up as you do. (Actually, that lesson is helpful anytime.)(less)
My first yaoi! Aww. Here are my thoughts, which I’m sure you are dying to hear. ;-)
I…liked it? But didn’t love it? I mean, it’s very cute, but it’s so...moreMy first yaoi! Aww. Here are my thoughts, which I’m sure you are dying to hear. ;-)
I…liked it? But didn’t love it? I mean, it’s very cute, but it’s so…well, immature. There’s an aside from the author at one point where she says, “Well, this is really a girls’ comic, anyway” and…yeah. That’s the problem for me. It’s clearly written with teen girls in mind, and while I must say that Japanese teen girls are TOTALLY AWESOME if this is what they like, I think I’ve outgrown it. Ryo and Dee, the two protagonists, may be employed as New York cops, and there may be fake splashes of cartoon blood from time to time, but the whole thing is so…fourteen years old. I mean, the guys are in love from minute one, and then there’s lots of kissing and “Oh my god! He kissed me!” And there are none of the (this is so lame) social issues I want from a two-cops-in-love story—everyone at the station is just, like, okay with this? *pouts* I want some angst and some grit, dude.
So basically what I’m saying is: I would rather be reading due South fic. Sigh.(less)
I always seem to want to check out gay romances on the days that one homophobic librarian is there. This was a fun one to make him scan, but not as fu...moreI always seem to want to check out gay romances on the days that one homophobic librarian is there. This was a fun one to make him scan, but not as fun as When the Stars Come Out.(less)
I found this long and, for the most part, really boring. Patrick and his yuppie angst did not engage me, and all of Seth’s quirks, which I believe wer...moreI found this long and, for the most part, really boring. Patrick and his yuppie angst did not engage me, and all of Seth’s quirks, which I believe were supposed to be endearing, irritated the crap out of me. I believe it is possible to tell a small, personal story that, even if it has no cosmic significance, is still meaningful and important in its own way. But everything about this book felt small and trivial, and it wasn’t even redeemed by being funny. Instead it was nearly 400 pages of well-intentioned yawnsville.(less)
What a wonderful surprise. This was great, so much more than the light, fluffy lit it would seem to be. Fowler's story follows six protagonists as the...moreWhat a wonderful surprise. This was great, so much more than the light, fluffy lit it would seem to be. Fowler's story follows six protagonists as they read Austen's six novels, with each character linked to a specific novel; it's very cleverly, subtly done. There are some fantastic narrative tricks—none of which seems showoff-y: parts of the novel are written in the first person plural, the collective "we" of the book group; the book concludes with the characters' hilarious "discussion questions" to you, the novel's readers. There's also some interesting stuff about gender; I especially liked Grigg, the club's sole male, whom Fowler reveals to be "a born heroine." This book made me incredibly happy. Though the real question is, of course, whether it would pass the Siria True Austenite test. *peers at her*(less)
This book cheered me up immensely. It's about a Major League shortstop who suddenly realizes that he's falling in love with his second baseman. It's o...moreThis book cheered me up immensely. It's about a Major League shortstop who suddenly realizes that he's falling in love with his second baseman. It's one of my favorite slash clichés—the slow tease of that first stirring attraction; the one guy teaching the other all he knows—and it builds really nicely. The writing's kind of slap-dash trashy, but I actually found the central romance to be rather sweet, and it's about baseball, a gay romance involving baseball, and that's just an unstoppable combination for me, really. I think you would all enjoy reading it. Especially Sheila. (And except Punk. *g*) I literally devoured it in one sitting—I don't think I even got up to use the bathroom.(less)
I both love and hate The Portrait of a Lady. It's so incredibly frustrating that I find rereads quite painful—Isabel, why are you such an idiot? But w...moreI both love and hate The Portrait of a Lady. It's so incredibly frustrating that I find rereads quite painful—Isabel, why are you such an idiot? But when you consider how sexually repressed poor James reportedly was, the repression that underlies this novel becomes almost delicious in its intensity. You can't help feel for poor Ralph Touchett, walking around with his hands in his pockets, or even for idiot Isabel, finding nothing but terror in the climactic "white lightning" kiss. I appreciate this book more and more every time I go back to it, but afterwards I always need to read a lot of porn.(less)
This was apparently required reading for the leaving cert for some of my Irish friends. I wish I'd been made to read such wonderful(ly slashy) things...moreThis was apparently required reading for the leaving cert for some of my Irish friends. I wish I'd been made to read such wonderful(ly slashy) things in high school! The plot revolves around WWI and class consciousness and male friendship, and it's a painful but beautiful story that I'm glad I spent my last day in Ireland sitting outside in Merrion Square reading. Even in less fantastic locations, this book still shines.(less)
I got this book as a gift and was honestly a bit wary at first because the concept—a novel told entirely in sonnets!—seemed a bit hokey and pretentiou...moreI got this book as a gift and was honestly a bit wary at first because the concept—a novel told entirely in sonnets!—seemed a bit hokey and pretentious to me. But in general it's really quite lovely and clever, even if the plot is a bit thin (with the exception of one incredibly shocking moment toward the end). Plus, Seth captures the feel of the Bay Area really well. You were right, dear gift-giver!(less)
Disturbing and, in my mind, fairly pointless. (This is in spite of the part of me that hears "serial killers in love" and thinks, "Aww! Cute concept!"...moreDisturbing and, in my mind, fairly pointless. (This is in spite of the part of me that hears "serial killers in love" and thinks, "Aww! Cute concept!") However, I am proud to say that I was able to eat an entire burrito while reading it.(less)
A really excellent memoir, in which (for a refreshing change!) the author's happy, normal childhood leads to her own crazy bohemian existence in San F...moreA really excellent memoir, in which (for a refreshing change!) the author's happy, normal childhood leads to her own crazy bohemian existence in San Francisco. Nothing is romanticized (illegal crash pads seem much less enticing when they're suffering from a sewage leak; take that, Rent!); everything seems emotionally honest and real. Lisick is so likable and engaging that I almost do want to take a stab at la vie boheme...but then I remember that I like my library feces-free. Lisick's a braver woman than I! And a terrific writer.(less)
David Rakoff is my hero (and one of my many, many gay Canadian boyfriends). He's hilariously funny, but there's real meat to this volume, too. My fav...more David Rakoff is my hero (and one of my many, many gay Canadian boyfriends). He's hilariously funny, but there's real meat to this volume, too. My favorite essays are the one exploring Rakoff's mixed feelings upon deciding to become an American citizen, and the chapter about the Log Cabin Republicans. In the latter Rakoff presents himself as sympathetic to their plight yet understandably completely baffled by gay Republicans' attempts to earn a place inside "the big tent" (the essay's called "Beat Me, Daddy"—and for good reason). There's a humanity to his political commentary that's increasingly rare these days.(less)