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The Front Runner (Harlan's Story #1)

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  4,582 Ratings  ·  282 Reviews
In 1975, coach Harlan Brown is hiding from his past at an obscure New York college, after he was fired from Penn State University on suspicion of being gay. A tough, lonely ex-Marine of 39, Harlan has never allowed himself to love another man.

Then Billy Sive, a brilliant young runner, shows up on his doorstep. He and his two comrades, Vince Matti and Jacques LaFont, were j
Paperback, 307 pages
Published 2001 by Quality Paperback Book Club (first published 1974)
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Nov 11, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
So there are actually two movies I could watch if I am sick and bed-ridden: as a child: "Peter Pan" (dedicated to the sick children of post W.W.II London, as I recollect); as an adult: "Brokeback Mountain."

I was not an instant fan of the film until I saw it on DVD. It is the ultimate Lifetime movie-- the perennial dramathon we've come to expect from love stories. Gay Brokeback, not Peter Pan.

Anyway, I also don't really regard the short story by Annie Proulx all that. So, then, which is the defin
Sep 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
De esas lecturas que se necesitan para cambiar el mundo. Los héroes son gente anónima.
Dec 06, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: thepinkroom
I enjoyed reading this book - it wasn't the best written story, but it depicted an honest and candid story involving two men in love when the gay liberation movement was just picking up steam. It was written by a woman, which I find intriguing, and involves a relationship between a college track coach and one of his students separated in age by a considerable gap.

The story has quite a few issues for me - mainly the development of a relationship between the two main characters - it is clear that
I love it soo sooo much! It goes directly to myfavorite shelf.
Review later, I hope I'll be able to write a proper review one week later.

(I really have a lot of thoughts about it, but it is impossible for me to type a review on my smartphone at the hotel lobby- it is the only place with a free internet access!)
Katie M.
Aug 27, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, queer
Sigh. What to say about this book? I do understand that it was brave and sensational and groundbreaking. I do understand that it changed the lives of many people who read it. I do understand that it was a product of its time and that times are different now. I do understand how it helped lay the foundation for other queer novels to follow. But seriously, it is just so. Extraordinarily. Bad. There, I've said it.
Letty Chihoro
Feb 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was simply gripped by this book. I have lived through the horrors of apartheid and know of the horrors of slavery and the slave trade in the United States. This book describes the discrimination and brutality suffered by gay people from the 1930s to the 1970s and in many ways it is like apartheid. I was simply riveted. Quite often I was brought to tears. The book describes the life of a gay athlete whose private life with his coach became the focus of attention for politicians, the media and t ...more
Jason Bradley
THIS was beautiful.

(view spoiler)
Nathan Burgoine
Mar 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: glbt
A smarter man than I might have noticed the word "Tragic" on the back cover of this book. That's all I'll say about how it was that I ended up blubbering in the midst of the Atlanta airport last week on my way to New Orleans.

This book was phenomenal. That it has just had its 20th anniversary makes it all the more stunning to me for its ability to hold up over time, as so many books struggle to do. Set in the year leading up to the Montreal Olympics, we follow the life of an ex-marine Coach who b
Kaje Harper
May 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, m-m
This is a classic m/m romance, written back when that was a far more rare and risky thing. It is a wonderful book, and has lost nothing in the decades since it was written. The 1970's setting is a vivid backdrop, the main characters are wonderful and complex, and the ending still makes me cry after many readings. As we browse through the candy store of contemporary m/m romances, this is one to read and savor, and to remind us of the things that change, and the things that remain the same.
May 22, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: didnt-finish
Wow, things have certainly come a long way since 1974.
Now, they actually publish gay novels that are good, instead of schmaltzy claptrap like this.
 ᴍɪᴄs ✖amante de los spoilers✖
Estoy MUY enojada y sumamente decepcionada. ¿Por qué siempre me pasa esto a mi? leo un libro me encanta, estoy lista para decir que es de mi favoritos pero siempre pasa algo que me saca de mis casillas y eclipsa todo lo demás.

Yo a Harlan le perdonaba todo menos su relación con los hijos, no los nombra nunca y cuando lo hace es solo por la plata. Jamás se le pasa por la cabeza averiguar cómo están o tratar de tener una relación con ellos. Entiendo que hay personas que simplemente no tienen made
João Roque
Dec 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-bookk, gays, narrativa
Curioso ter lido quase de seguida dois livros sobre relações entre homossexuais, ambos de grande nível e ambos escritos por mulheres.
Depois de "Salto Mortal" de Marion Zimmer Bradley, ambientado no mundo do circo, li agora o livro mais conhecido de Patricia Nell Warren, "The Front Runner", em boa hora, traduzido para português pela INDEX ebooks,"O Corredor de Fundo" e desta vez ambientado no mundo do atletismo de alto nível americano.
Há um muito bom registo de toda uma época em que após Stonewel
Allora. Fino all'85% il libro, senza far gridare al miracolo, non era male, anche se a tratti scritto in modo curiosamente "cronachistico". Ma il finale è spaventosamente "over the top", spingendo il melodramma al parossismo. Non so bene che pensare. Scritto nel 1974, "suona" effettivamente datato. Forse il valore di questo libro va cercato, più che nella qualità intrinseca, nel fatto di essere un'opera "pioneristica", che ha presentato per la prima volta al grande pubblico certi temi.
Lascio 3 s
Johnnie Terry
Mar 12, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book gets four stars because it made my adolescent, gay heart pound. I fell in love with Billy. It was tragic. It broke my heart. I read and reread it because it was about people like me who'd met other people like me and I wanted to run away and join those people. I kept this book hidden under my bed. I'm scared to reread it now that I'm in my forties because it could pop that romanticized bubble. It's better for me to remember this one. If you read this book because of my recommendation, ...more
Apr 12, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Cody | codysbookshelf
“The angel of death had cruised him. Death, that hustler, that last lover.”

Published between the era of Leave it to Beaver and Father Knows Best, and the AIDS crisis, The Front Runner is a very blunt and honest look at homosexuality in the world of American sports, circa 1975. By its time’s standards — as well as the current day — this book is progressive; the ideas are daring, the revelations unflinching. The front cover calls it “controversial” and “unusual” and “as moving as any love story ev
Kath Middleton
Jun 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I was recommended this book by two people who had read it when it first came out. It’s set in the 1970s when I was a young mum with two toddlers, and in some ways the world has changed a great deal, but sadly, not enough. The narrator is Harlan Brown, the trainer of several Olympic hopeful runners at a small college near New York. One of them, Billy Sive, is a strong runner but on the wrong training regime. Harlan himself and three of his best runners are gay. So what, one might say these days?
Jul 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been wanting to give myself two weeks to read this trilogy for quite awhile, but I'll tell you I won't need it... This was an amazing book, smartly written, and such a page turner.

Written in first person, Harlan Brown, 39 (going on 40), is our main character. Within the first 20 pages we know his life story thus far and is presently the track coach for Prescott College. Enter Billy Sive, 20y/o, with Olympic potential as the country's premier long distance runner. Billy was cast-off his coll
Feb 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Belíssima história de amor entre um jovem 'corredor de fundo' e o seu treinador, ambientada no início da década de 70 do século passado, quando se inicia a emancipação da comunidade gay e a sua visibilidade na America dispara, com todas as consequências positivas e negativas que isso tem para os seus membros. Publicado em 1974, o livro é interessantíssimo na forma como aborda as questões da militância, denunciando já na altura, em que o 'We're here, we're queer, get used to it' era gritado no se ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
adorei. não fazia ideia de que fosse assim tão fantástico. concordo que a escrita é muito simples, mas é uma história tão bonita e trágica e relata de uma maneira tão bela o amor entre eles.
fica a pergunta: para quando a tradução dos restantes livros? :)
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this beautiful and heartbreaking love story when I read it in my 20's. It is now time for a re-read to see if this book lives up to my fond memories.
Nov 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: closeted jocks. CALL ME!
Totally dated, schmaltzy and predictable.

I appreciate the historical significance of this book but it still sucked.
Nick Pageant
This has not aged well at all, but if you have an interest in the history of gay literature, you should give this a read.
Bruce Martin
Apr 26, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
So many problems with this book -- its misogyny, melodrama, high-tone preaching, etc.
Jan 07, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Tengo tanto de lo que quejarme que no se ni siquiera por donde empezar. Comencé este libro por el reto de "un libro que te haga llorar" y yo soy una llorona, lloro con todos los libros, llore con bajo la misma estrella incluso si no soporto el libro,simplemente si algo triste sucede yo lloro.No lloré con este libro.

Harlan es una pequeña bolsa de excremento, no lo soporté en un principio,pero luego sentí que crecía como personaje y en especial junto a Billy se convirtió en un personaje que podia
Aug 25, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in gay rights and sports novels
Recommended to Kayez by: amazon
I sat down to read this because I had read reviews hailing it as a pivotal gay novel. Truthfully I didn't expect much from the novel in the way of man on man thrill, after all the book was written in the mid seventies.

I'm not going to sum up the book here, if I did I may start crying again and I'm finally calm enough to write this.

This book is wonderful.
The fact that it was written during the seventies has no bearing on how well written or marvelous it really is.

It is told in first person by H

Not my favourite gay romance I have to say, even if it is considered to be a classic (??). Far too much in the way of political shenanigans to hold my interest, arguing for the right to compete against other athletes, which obviously I 'got', but it was so repetitive, and the views of Coach Brown on gay rights, women's lib and even other members of the gay community itself irritated the hell out of me on a regular basis. All of the gay characters in the story spoke as if they were a separate ent
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How perfect was starting this right as the start of the summer Olympics? I truly enjoyed this and am thankful that I can always rely on Lena, my trusty source for gay fiction recommendations.

It's impossible to not to think of this as historical fiction, but this was written 40+ years ago when what feels like history now was a genuine struggle for anyone who dared to be out and gay. In other words, it's a contemporary love story written a long time ago. So after your done cringing at the horribl
Oct 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I definitely understand why The Front Runner is considered a classic of gay literature. The plot and characters were compelling and the social issues felt real. Needless to say, I think every reader is (or should be, at least) a little bit in love with Billy Sive. The narrator, on the other hand, was less than admirable, but he did improve over the course of the book.

As a feminist, it bugged me to see how chauvinistic gay male culture of the 70s was. Although that is something I knew before from
Jonathan Treadway
I'd heard that this was another gay classic love story, like The Charioteer. Everyone's right! I can't believe I waited this long to read it, but I was absorbed immediately and caught up in the drama. Some of it seemed a little too good to be true, but all in all it was an excellent story. The romance between the two men is believable and heartwarming. Yes, I cried at the ending of this one too...but I bet everyone does! This is definitely a keeper, and one I will reread over and over.
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Portugal: Oferta de best-seller 5 79 Jan 13, 2017 01:21PM  
Goodreads Brasil: Oferta de best-seller 1 13 Jan 13, 2017 01:27AM  
Clube de Leitores...: 25% de desconto durante a Feira do Livro 3 27 Jun 07, 2014 12:06PM  
Portugal: 25% de desconto durante a Feira do Livro 1 28 Jun 05, 2014 11:43AM  
  • The Catch Trap
  • Like People in History
  • Comfort and Joy
  • Dancer from the Dance
  • The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story
  • Changing Tides
  • The Charioteer
  • Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
  • The Brothers Bishop
  • The Lost Language of Cranes
  • The World of Normal Boys
  • City of Night
  • The Best Little Boy in the World
  • The Beautiful Room Is Empty
  • The Boys on the Rock
  • False Colors
  • The Coming Storm
  • The God in Flight
Patricia Nell Warren grew up on a historic ranch in Montana, spent many years working in the New York media, and has lived and traveled extensively in Europe. She now resides in Los Angeles County, where she writes both best-selling fiction and provocative political commentary. While her earlier works came out from establishment publishers like William Morrow and Random House/Ballantine, today Wil ...more
More about Patricia Nell Warren

Other books in the series

Harlan's Story (3 books)
  • Harlan's Race (Harlan's Story, #2)
  • Billy's Boy (Harlan's Story, #3)

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“In my old age, I was at last being permitted to make the discovery that lovemaking gets better and better with time, if it's with someone you care for.” 9 likes
“Love is when you fry the other person's bacon even if you're a vegetarian.” 7 likes
More quotes…