Alarra's Reviews > The Lost Language of Cranes

The Lost Language of Cranes by David Leavitt
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's review
Nov 02, 2009

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bookshelves: contemporaryfiction, gblt
Read in October, 2009

I didn't like The Page Turner, so I was wary of this, one of his better known works. Philip Benjamin, young and in his first major relationship, is steeling himself up to come out to his middle-aged parents, Owen and Ruth. They themselves are being rocked by some destablising news - they will have to leave their New York home of over twenty years, and Ruth realises she doesn't know a think about her husband. Owen, meanwhile, is struggling with his secret even as he inches closer to admitting he is gay.

It all sounds very melodramatic, but there's a spare elegance in Leavitt's writing that makes all three characters real and needy and human, and the relationships between them are touching. I felt very very bad for Ruth by the end of the book though; both Philip and Owen are given hopeful endings, which was still quite unusual at the time of its publication for gay characters, but only at her expense as a mother and wife, a woman whose whole life is upturned at the age of 52.
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