Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Arkansas: Three Novellas” as Want to Read:
Arkansas: Three Novellas
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Arkansas: Three Novellas

3.69  ·  Rating details ·  652 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
Here are three novellas of escape and exile, touching and funny and at times calculatedly outrageous.

In "Saturn Street," a disaffected L.A. screenwriter delivers lunches to homebound AIDS patients, only to find himself falling in love with one of them.

In "The Wooden Anniversary," Nathan and Celia - familiar characters from Leavitt's story collections - reunite after a fi
Paperback, 208 pages
Published April 3rd 1998 by Mariner Books (first published 1997)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Arkansas, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Arkansas

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 14, 2016 rated it liked it
"I should like to flee like a wounded hart into Arkansas."
- attributed to Oscar Wilde, near the end of his life.

David Leavitt has a thing for Forster, Wilde, and brown ankles.

The writing wasn't bad but I wasn't in love.
The introspective moments in "Saturn Street" were uncomfortably close.

-3- "The Term Paper Artist"
-2.5- "The Wooden Anniversary"
-4- "Saturn Street"
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contos, queer, releituras
Três excelentes novelas, escritas por um autor no seu melhor.
Guillermo Jiménez
Tengo problemas con las palabras y su significado, o su interpretación. En la contraportada dice de este libro: «"Arkansas" reúne tres espléndidas variaciones sobre el universo de la seducción». Y leo en el DRAE que seducir viene del latín seducere y que tiene tres acepciones: uno, engañar con arte y maña, persuadir suavemente para algo malo; dos, atraer físicamente a alguien con el propósito de obtener de él una relación sexual; y, tres, embargar o cautivar el ánimo.
Y, creo, que esto solo apli
Trixie Fontaine
Sep 15, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the beginning, read to me a little like Paul Auster crossed with a gay sex blog. Really enjoyed it - had a crooked smile on my face through the entire first story and the three were well-balanced against each other. No extreme highs or lows, but very touching, sensual, and funny in a daily and true way.

Hard to believe one of the words used to describe this book was "shocking", but I'm guessing that's what straight guys say about stories that tell the truth about male sexuality in a mundane, d
Mark Landmann
Feb 27, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Just lost the review when I changed my edition before I'd saved... so briefly...
-all 3 novellas very readable, especially the first and last, which left me thinking about the characters and had some sexy scenes.
-often I found the writing sensitive but then I found it pompous too (or maybe it'd be better to say over my head). That left me feeling some distance from the characters
-amazing what a different world 1997 was for gay fiction... obviously in the centrality of AIDS to gay life. But not
Aug 22, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sapevo da “Ballo di famiglia” che David Leavitt scrive bene e che - dettaglio - è gay; ma tre storie su tre incentrate su gay molto irrequieti, pur se raccontate formalmente bene, mi sono risultate piuttosto pesanti. (Vorrei rileggere Leavitt... alle prese con altre tematiche.)
Kevin Orth
Sep 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Love, love, love David Leavitt's work. This did not disappoint. Highly recommend.
Oct 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: short-fiction
This is the first thing of David's I've read: I'd known him for two years before I decided to read anything of his. These three novellas take his best personal qualities I've witnessed and condense them into one book. They're funny, sharp, worldly, and full of empathy. I'll have to read more now.
Aug 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
Good longer works from a great short story writer. The first one is a stinging self-implication. It was a fun book to travel with, and a nice follow-up read to Family Dancing.

Normally not a fan of short stories but I finished this one in one sitting and liked all three stories; my favorite one was probably the last story, but again I liked them all.
Scott Smith
Aug 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Novellas can be strange animals. And, as in any collection of fiction, you tend to like some more than others. David Leavitt brings all his writing chops to bear on these three distinctly themed stories. The first, "The Term Paper Artist," is on the surface quite funny and absurd. Yet, underneath the narrator's hard shell lies a sensitive, vulnerable and ultimately lonely soul. If you know a little about Leavitt's publishing history, this story screams with self-effacing honesty. I really liked ...more
Jul 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I really enjoyed reading this collection, and it reinforced my faith in David Leavitt as a writer. The first novella, The Term Paper Artist, is one of those stories that's held up by its premise. It has an interesting take on gay for pay. These guys are gay for research papers. Once the premise has been explored, the story is allowed to slowly wind down. I wouldn't call this a fault. I think that's just the story taking its natural shape.
The high points of The Wooden Anniversary are the inexplic
Nov 14, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An offhand comment in Felice Picano's Art & Sex in Greenwich Village intrigued me enough to pick up this collection of three short novellas. Arranged an ascending order of gravitas, all three are drastically different in subject matter and tone. And while they all are rather excellent in their individual ways, there's something prickly about the concluding "Saturn Street" that's difficult to shake off (and not just because it deals with the struggles of an AIDs patient): it just really start ...more
Nick Duretta
Jul 17, 2015 rated it liked it
The novellas are well-written, wry, clever and occasionally poignant, but the gay male protagonists of two (apparently modeled on Leavitt himself) and the principal gay male character of the third, are all sex-addicted horn dogs who, when not trolling sex lines, porn shops or watching video porn, are trying to couple with any nearby man. Yes, I know there are gay men like this (I've met a few), but it is also a (misleading) gay stereotype that often fuels homophobia (not that many straight peopl ...more
Sacramento Public Library
Arkansas contains three very different stories, all humorous and poignant. Leavitt crafts his characters brilliantly, the main one after himself, ditching clichés from the gay community. His smart, tight dialogue makes for a fast though satisfying read. He successfully weaves stories of Aids in the 80’s, professional jealousy, and creepily co-dependent straight/gay relationships while remaining playful. Highly recommended --Geoff
Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
These are neat stories exploring all kinds of terrain. Perfect and short enough to read on an afternoon.
"Love's poison, I've noticed, has a way of lingering in the body even years after love itself has withdrawn its fangs."
"The Wooden Anniversary."

And personally, I think a blowjob is nowhere near enough payment for writing a whole term-paper. I'd expect a lot more.
But then again, the real fun there was the whole negotiation and deal-making...I guess.


The first novella is fantastic.

The third novella is good and sad.

I was having a discussion about this book with a couple people who'd read it and none of us could remember the second novella. Is it possibly about a man and a woman who take a cooking class or something?

I read this book while I lived in Arkansas and it still really pisses me off that the title is Arkansas.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: gay-lit
By far one of the better books that David Leavitt has written. The three novellas stand alone as great stories in their own right - though the last is in my opinion the best - with each story bringing forth a different emotion. The language is finely controlled; the plots enthralling. A very satisfying read.
Jun 01, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, short-stories, queer
I picked this up immediately after reading While England Sleeps, and unfortunately, it's not even close. The novella ranged wildly; the first a three, the second a one, the third a four. Which should make it closer to three stars, but really, it wasn't. I didn't particularly enjoy it, and the second is pretty much awful, so. Two stars.
Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer
Das três novelas que compõem este volume, editado em Português pela Asa, só li as duas primeiras. Foi ao ler 'Bodas de Madeira' que me dei conta que Leavitt, associado a literatura gay, é de facto um excelente escritor, independentemente da orientação sexual do autor ou das suas personagens.
Jun 25, 2016 rated it it was ok
Flojo, las dos primeras historias no aportan gran cosa. La tercera, Calle Saturn, es mucho mejor por comparación pero no termina de profundizar, hay demasiadas omisiones. Y el final es súbito, decepcionante.
Jacob Dougherty
Sep 11, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
David Leavitt is a master of the form of short fiction. These three novellas are at times touching and at times shocking. Gay men will certainly understand the feelings of desperation in Saturn Street, but anyone can enjoy the raunchiness and playfulness of 'The Term Paper Artist'.
Dec 06, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, in, 2008, apr
Tre romanzi brevi nell'inconfondibile stile di Leavitt.
Molto divertente e ironico il primo racconto, in cui uno scrittore di nome David Leavitt si ritrova a comporre tesine di letteratura su ordinazione in cambio di favori sessuali.
Brent Reichenberger
Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Someone on Goodreads described Levitt as "Paul Auster crossed with a gay sex blog." SOLD. I want to read everything this man has ever written.
Paulo Coutinho
Jul 30, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
São três contos reunidos na mesma edição. É muito fixe!
Jesus Torres
Mar 03, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 169
Elena Walker
Jul 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
good for students
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: glad-i-read
Three small packages of Leavitt for the price of one! Excellent book! Read it!
Gayla Bassham
May 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
I liked the first story much more than the other two. But it was nice to read novellas instead of full-blown novels or short stories.
Richard Jespers
Jan 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three fine novellas—more like what Leavitt is capable of (unlike The Page Turner). Quite good.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Beauty of Men
  • The Married Man
  • The Men from the Boys
  • The Fancy Dancer
  • I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore
  • The Spell
  • The Carnivorous Lamb
  • The Easy Way Out
  • The Good Neighbor
  • The Story of the Night
  • Numbers
  • Openly Bob
  • Kept Boy
  • Boulevard
  • The Salt Point
  • The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story
  • My Brother and His Brother
  • Getting It
Leavitt is a graduate of Yale University and a professor at the University of Florida, where he is the co-director of the creative writing program. He is also the editor of Subtropics magazine, The University of Florida's literary review.

Leavitt, who is openly gay, has frequently explored gay issues in his work. He divides his time between Florida and Tuscany, Italy.
More about David Leavitt...

Share This Book