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Hanya Yanagihara--Is She Exploiting Gay Men?

Following the much lauded "A Little Life" which was a tome about the lives of four gay men, Hanya Yanagihara has published another novel--"To Paradise"-- with three interlinked stories about gay men. I've looked at articles on the Internet and only one, by a gay critic, raised the question of her exploitation of her subject. I am a lesbian, not a gay man of course, and I admit I haven't read this latest book, but her choice of material causes me to wonder. She makes no representation about her own sexuality and is mum about her private life if that matters. If any dataloungers have an opinion about Yanagihara or her novels, do tell.

by Anonymousreply 107January 17, 2022 2:09 AM

OP. HOLY FUCK. I often want to post about this HORRIBLE book.

(I want to say that I stared a post around 2 years ago about this utter piece of shit "novel"..

I have never read a greater piece of SHIT in my life.

Melodramatic, cliched SOAP OPERA.

Utter trash. "Torture porn".

Garbage. Fuck that author.

by Anonymousreply 1January 2, 2022 12:08 AM

She is the worst kind of writer about “identity experience”— A Little Life was a disgusting piece of, as R1, says “torture porn.” You could practically sense the author fingering herself as she wrote about the graphic abuse of Jude. And her depiction of gay male sexuality and sensibility had all the authenticity of the worst slash fiction.

I’m also tired of female writers penning YA novels about gay and trans teens. It’s creepy, deluded, and exploitative.

by Anonymousreply 2January 2, 2022 12:18 AM

I actually loved a little life but her next book is about gay men AGAIN???

That’s bizarre…….

by Anonymousreply 3January 2, 2022 12:21 AM

YES. R2. I read this novel many years after it was heralded a "masterwork". I was appalled. It was truly horrible in every way.

Once the Jude shit unfolded it was PURE comedy. It was so over the top and vile that I could not even feel sympathy any more.

I was truly shocked by this horrible book- especially by its critical acclaim.

by Anonymousreply 4January 2, 2022 12:22 AM

I fucking hate A Little Life, too. What a waste of time it was and that relationship between the cutter and the heart throb actor, COME ON!!! I have no interest in reading anything by her again, tbh.

by Anonymousreply 5January 2, 2022 12:23 AM

I bought "A Little Life" when it was discounted on Kindle but haven't gotten around to reading it. Based on this thread, I might pass.

by Anonymousreply 6January 2, 2022 12:38 AM

[quote] She makes no representation about her own sexuality and is mum about her private life

Who does that?!?

by Anonymousreply 7January 2, 2022 1:12 AM

Anyone can write about anything. The catch is, you have to do it well.

by Anonymousreply 8January 2, 2022 1:12 AM

R8. I agree, but I’ve read few representations of gay mile life written by either women or straight men that are either well-written or feel real.

FWIW, a gay male college professor whose opinion I deeply respect, lives A Little Life. De gustibus.... I abhor it on all levels.

by Anonymousreply 9January 2, 2022 1:26 AM

"A Little Life" was the single most depressing book I have ever finished. Why did I keep reading? What bolt of masochism? At the end, I threw the book across the room. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.

by Anonymousreply 10January 2, 2022 1:29 AM

What a terrible book about gay men written by someone who has clearly never once met a gay man. The only reason to buy this book is to burn it for warmth. Whoever edited this book should be banned from the publishing industry. I have never hated a book like I do A Little Life.

by Anonymousreply 11January 2, 2022 1:35 AM

[QUOTE] I agree, but I’ve read few representations of gay mile life written by either women or straight men that are either well-written or feel real.

I had this problem with the much-lauded The Great Believers. There was a lot to admire in the novel but the pure mechanics of gay sex and just some of the gay male social stuff did not ring true to me at all. You could tell it had been written by a straight woman.

by Anonymousreply 12January 2, 2022 2:00 AM

I hate when women assume men have sex with men because they develop an emotional connection - like lesbians. Men’s dicks don’t get hard because of emotional attachment. That’s a chick fantasy.

by Anonymousreply 13January 2, 2022 3:28 AM

Hava Nagila?

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by Anonymousreply 14January 2, 2022 3:33 AM

R11, the editor Gerry Howard retired at the end of 2020.

He wrote this letter in 2015 in defense of his author and the book after a review that implied the author duped her readers.

Having worked with Howard in the past, I can assure you that he really is a pompous blowhard.

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by Anonymousreply 15January 2, 2022 3:51 AM

The reviewer’s response to Howard’s letter at the link above is spot on.

by Anonymousreply 16January 2, 2022 4:04 AM

I haaaaaated A Little Life and refuse to read anything else by her, but her first book was really good...though of course it had sexual abuse as its topic. It was a good study in how pedophiles are able to get away with their crimes because they really don't believe they did anything wrong. They are able to cloak themselves in accomplishments so that even their closest peers can be blind to their crimes. I love a book with an unreliable narrator, and this had an unreliable narrator recounting another unreliable narrator's life.

by Anonymousreply 17January 2, 2022 4:18 AM

Like R17, I thought her first book was great… but after reading A Little Life, it did strike me how odd it was for a woman to center her first two novels on the sexual degradation of gay boys and men. I couldn’t really have an honest, thoughtful reaction of any kind to the book itself, because I am just so weirded out by the author. Now her third book is another gay opus? This is Dolezal-esque. Her publisher had to know this was going to get a mixed reaction.

by Anonymousreply 18January 2, 2022 4:39 AM

[quote] I hate when women assume men have sex with men because they develop an emotional connection - like lesbians. Men’s dicks don’t get hard because of emotional attachment. That’s a chick fantasy.

As a young gay guy. I've read my fair share of m/m fanfiction and yaoi/bi manga online. When I was teen, I was just desperate for any type of gay portrayals. That said, I found them all unrealistic and cliche. I cringed the most at the way the couples were paired. Basically one served as a girl (just with a dick) and the other man. Then they wouldn't even claim they were gay or mention anything really about homosexuality or deal with homophobia. The sex was even the worse and not hot or realistic. Then I realized this stuff was written by women for women and someone explained to me that some women like to explore their kinks through smutty gay stories, inserting themselves into the male protagonist. This is mainly due to gender roles, since they would feel more uncomfortable with a female character being degraded.

by Anonymousreply 19January 2, 2022 4:50 AM

R18, I do wonder if I would have liked her first book as much as I did if I read it after A Little Life, but I hated A Little Life so much, I wouldn't have been able to bring myself to read her first novel at all.

by Anonymousreply 20January 2, 2022 4:51 AM

R12 - Which parts of the great believers were inaccurate? I don’t remember the book even having sex scenes?

When I read gay fan fic written by women I’m always tickled by their commitment to anal fingering as a necessity to “loosen” or “open up” the bottom every time before fucking. The top starts with one finger and works his way up to 3 fingers before the bottom can take a dick. Doesn’t matter how sexually experienced the bottom is - he needs the 3 fingers every single time. You would think one of them would have a gay friend they could ask or some porn they could consult to realize that the 1-2-3 fingering method isn’t a thing.

The female writers also insist on condoms every time. I remember reading some fan fiction from the 1930s and condoms were used.

Some of them are great writers and I think they mean well, it’s just an interesting phenomenon - all these fraus writing about men fucking each other.

by Anonymousreply 21January 2, 2022 5:06 AM

I'm not interested in her books, but I really think fiction is a free territory and people should be free to create whatever they want.

by Anonymousreply 22January 2, 2022 7:32 AM

I haven't read her books. But I've recently become extremely cautious about the whole issue of women obsessively writing fiction about what they imagine to be the gay male experience. I think I've been more sensitised to the problems that come out of this by all these heterosexual girls now "identifying" as gay men. We are NOT the same. Only gay men knows what a gay man thinks and feels and women stamping their internal emotional landscapes on the gay male experience can be deeply appropriative, inauthentic and disrespectful.

by Anonymousreply 23January 2, 2022 8:10 AM

R13 I can get hard for a guy I am emotionally attached to. And it is beautiful. So can many others. If you are cold inside don't project it on us.

by Anonymousreply 24January 2, 2022 8:45 AM

It’s a bit of a double-edged sword - the more mainstream representation we have in popular culture, the more “normal” and “acceptable” we become and then outsiders assume they understand and can write the experience. Shows like schitt’s creek - which present a gay male couple that fraus are obsessed with - where one man is stereotypically feminine and the other presents as straight and sex is never shown and it’s all very “normal” - women assume it’s like a heterosexual relationship - just even better because both men are always kind and respectful and sensitive to each other’s needs. And when you remove the sex - it becomes very safe viewing and like fantasy land for them.

So it’s either that romantic fantasyland or the other end of the spectrum, like “a little life” - which is basically torture porn

Interesting phenomenon.

That being said, agree that people can write what they want - gay men certainly write women and have done so for years and years. And straight men have written gay male characters (offensively) for years. So it’s not just the fraus.

by Anonymousreply 25January 2, 2022 9:00 AM

Sex & The City would be a good example of gay men writing women as gay men. That certainly created a lot of off-screen carnage because many women who tried to emulate the fiction got burnt by it.

by Anonymousreply 26January 2, 2022 9:04 AM

She’s exhausting

by Anonymousreply 27January 2, 2022 9:05 AM

R26 - very true.

by Anonymousreply 28January 2, 2022 9:09 AM

R26 as a woman, not a single one of the protagonists ever felt vaguely relatable to me. However, I know many women who loved S&TC. Every writer should be allowed to write what they like. It's their book. And what R8 said, but even that can be subjective.

by Anonymousreply 29January 2, 2022 9:41 AM

But does she know about the prostate?

by Anonymousreply 30January 2, 2022 10:44 AM

[quote]I haven't read her books. But I've recently become extremely cautious about the whole issue of women obsessively writing fiction about what they imagine to be the gay male experience. I think I've been more sensitised to the problems that come out of this by all these heterosexual girls now "identifying" as gay men. We are NOT the same. Only gay men knows what a gay man thinks and feels and women stamping their internal emotional landscapes on the gay male experience can be deeply appropriative, inauthentic and disrespectful.

Totally agree with you - but everything you say is also true of the way women are spoken of by [crusading] MTF trans. However, if we say their stamping their internal emotional landscape on our experience is appropriative, inauthentic and disrespectful we get death threats. Go figure.

by Anonymousreply 31January 2, 2022 1:53 PM

I thought we weren't allowed to write about/act/direct stories about people outside of our demographic?

by Anonymousreply 32January 2, 2022 5:53 PM

r32 Yeah. Fuck that. I'm not white but I don't care if white people write stories about people of color nor do I care if straight people write LGB stories. The only issue I would have if they are just lazy and rely on stereotypes or cliches but that's not exclusive to anyone. Majority of gay stories by gay men are not automatically great either. 90% of anything is crap no matter who writes it.

by Anonymousreply 33January 2, 2022 6:00 PM

Was just reading a Reddit thread on this exact issue and a gay male poster recommended the Rachel reid gamechanger series as an example of hot sex scenes between two men written by a woman.

Got it off my free library app and would have to agree.

If you are into erotica - check it out.

Fully agree with R33 - most writing is crap period.

by Anonymousreply 34January 2, 2022 7:00 PM

I read the whole fucking (long!!) thing. A horrid, facile, dishonest book. Nothing about any of the characters rang true... just materialistic and social media profiling of class and personality. A cheap shot, not just to gay men. A cheap, sloppy, poorly written shot.

Speaking of shot... the pic on the cover is from a collection of men's faces during orgasms.

by Anonymousreply 35January 2, 2022 7:05 PM

Most romantic gay fiction is written by women, has been for a long time. That's just the way it is. I was super pissed about it years ago when it was revealed that the light gay fiction superstar Josh Lanyon was using a pen name and was in reality a woman. She tried to hide it and managed to do it for quite a while but in the end got caught. I've since forgiven her and I don't mind her actions at all really. I still occasionally read her but she's rather formulaic so it's a rare treat these days.

Do I care that women write gay male fiction? No. Is it wrong that straight people base their views on gay men partly on the wrong ideas of female authors? Not really. In the end most of those novels feature extremely likeable characters. Now if we were vilified I'd think differently but that's not the case here.

In the end I find it totally ridiculous that only gay men could write about gay men, or play gay characters. And that goes with practically any other groups as well. I hope we get past this identity centered era fast.

One female written gay series I've loved is the Cut & Run series by Madeleine Urban and Abigail Roux. Two masculine gay cops fall in love and have frequent sex. It's not Nifty-level sexy but there's enough to keep it interesting.

by Anonymousreply 36January 2, 2022 7:25 PM

All kinds of crap gets published now, that never would have gotten a notice years ago. Remember when John Grisham was considered pap. Now we have crap like the Twilight series, 50 shades of Grey. The writing is beyond awful, but it's incredibly popular.

by Anonymousreply 37January 2, 2022 7:32 PM

r32 the claim goes that homosexual male stories were commercially dominated by women, so it's their demographic not yours.

r37 JT LeRoy

by Anonymousreply 38January 2, 2022 7:33 PM

R36 All good points. But the objection (my objection) to this book is not that it is written by a woman. My objection is that it is a manipulative, superficial artless book. It is "about" gay men, and tries to "capture" a cross section of NYC gay men. It fails.

by Anonymousreply 39January 2, 2022 7:33 PM

[quote] The only reason to buy this book is to burn it for warmth.

Hey! Mine's cheaper!

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by Anonymousreply 40January 2, 2022 7:41 PM

A sizable amount of writers and directors are gay or bi men who wrote straight couples and many actors are gay or bisexual and portrayed straight people. Hell, it seems being straight in the creative arts world is a minority. Writing is about using your imagination and doing research. If you're straight and want to write gay story then talk to gay people and get their consultation. It's not hard. I do think some writers are just arrogant and don't like to be told what to do. They have absolute right to write what they want. But if they want to be taken seriously, it's always good to consult someone if realism is the aim.

by Anonymousreply 41January 2, 2022 7:47 PM

Well, I'll stick my neck out and say I'm a gay man who thinks A LITTLE LIFE is a masterpiece—as have many many readers and critics both straight and gay. A writer who can draw such gallons of bile and emotional highhandedness from readers must be doing something right. Or at least incredibly effective. So don't read the new book, but I suspect many of the haters will, just to be able to exercise their venom. Which is fine; will only make its writer wealthier.

by Anonymousreply 42January 2, 2022 8:00 PM

It is the worst “critically acclaimed” book I have ever read. It is torture porn for fraus. Way too long. Too many unnecessary characters. And nothing ever fucking happens. The plot makes no sense. Is EVERYONE a pedophile in her world? Plus, totally unlikable main character. By the end of the book, I was rooting for the razor.

by Anonymousreply 43January 2, 2022 8:05 PM

If you want to write a superb novel about a gay man, written by a woman, I recommend The Short History of a Prince by Jane Hamilton. Great writer and it rings true.

by Anonymousreply 44January 2, 2022 8:08 PM

R43 Exactly, by about page 400 (halfway through?) I was rooting for him to off himself.

by Anonymousreply 45January 2, 2022 8:11 PM

After all the controversy surrounding "A Little Life" and the mixed reviews it received, she vowed she would never write another novel, so I'm surprised to read here that she did. (The infamous NYRB Mendelsohn review linked above was probably the most lacerating). She may have been heartened by the fact that gay novelist Garth Greenwell (possibly a friend of hers) loved the book and praised it in The Atlantic (see link below).

It's such a curious novel: so flawed and at the same time so memorable. I read it back in 2015, and Jude, JB, Dr. Traylor, Andy the enabling physician, angelic father figure Harold, and the wicked Brother Luke are all impossible to forget. It does take some talent to create such enduring characters, but I understand how readers would feel manipulated.

I'm in the Netherlands, and "A Little Life" had a huge following here among middle-aged (and older) women. My 70-something neighbor seemed obsessed with it. Flemish theater director Ivo van Hove adapted it into a play, and Yanagihara attended the premiere in Amsterdam but was seemingly unhappy with it. She accused Van Hove of "showing everything" and "leaving nothing to the imagination" and then he told her that was exactly what she did in her book! (They did actually, grotesquely, show Dr. Traylor running over Jude with his car on stage. The story needed to be told, but they might have handled it with more subtlety, maybe using a narrator).

Yanagihara is a good interviewee, very smart, engaging, and accessible, and she did lots of promotion for "A Little Life" at bookstores and so on. It's worth hearing what she has to say about her writing process, the characters, the "torture porn" allegations, etc. She even appeared on Seth Meyers' talk show at the time, talking about how she'd asked a gay male couple she was friends with to be a "fly on the wall" while they had sex (as 'research' for her book), and they told her "no way." I'd be surprised if she was a lesbian (as some here have stated) as she seems to have little interest in writing female characters (the few women in "A Little Life" are bit players), but who knows, really.

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by Anonymousreply 46January 2, 2022 8:12 PM

I actually loved A Little Life. You all took too much at face value - it reads like an over the top gothic melodrama, the book version of an Almodovar film. It’s just so over the top it doesn’t seem like you’re meant to see any of the characters as human.

by Anonymousreply 47January 2, 2022 8:12 PM

Educate yourselves, shes a fujo doing fujo things.

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by Anonymousreply 48January 2, 2022 8:13 PM

Also yes, anyone should be allowed to write about whoever and whatever they want. Gay men have written worse novels about gay men than a LOT of women.

by Anonymousreply 49January 2, 2022 8:16 PM

Her work ethic is certainly impressive: she wrote the 700+-page "A Little Life" in just six months, while holding down a full-time job at Condé Nast Traveler (she has since moved to The New York Times).

by Anonymousreply 50January 2, 2022 8:17 PM

^That's Joyce Carol Oates-level speed.

by Anonymousreply 51January 2, 2022 8:50 PM

I've noticed that it's lesbians who most complain about straight women who produce lots of art about gay men. It's almost like these lesbians resent not having straight female attention for themselves.

by Anonymousreply 52January 2, 2022 8:57 PM

[quote] I've noticed that it's lesbians who most complain about straight women who produce lots of art about gay men. It's almost like these lesbians resent not having straight female attention for themselves.

Lol. The OP doesn't speak for all lesbians, that's for sure. I personally get a kick out of gay men getting annoyed by straight females producing fiction about them. As if gay men didn't do the same thing to them, with Sex and the City. Keep it going, straight ladies.

by Anonymousreply 53January 2, 2022 9:09 PM

I don't think gay men hated Anne Rice. At least straight women acknowledge gay men exist and incorporate that into their writing. While some do veer into stereotypes or heteronormative style relationships, they usually never portray gays as predatory monsters, just quirky or too emotional. Straight male writers try to avoid that subject of male homosexuality altogether and they have a much harder time writing complex female characters.

by Anonymousreply 54January 2, 2022 9:13 PM

Sex and the City is not really about real straight women -- it's about gay men disguised as straight women. It's just that the series would never be picked out if it was about actual gay men; and if it was, it wouldn't achieve the mainstream success it had. This remains true to these days. I don't think, however, that the same is true for the gay men that straight women invent in their art -- I don't think straight women treat them as a metaphor for themselves. Instead, female art about gay men is usually a way for female writers and readers to explore their attraction to effeminate men.

by Anonymousreply 55January 2, 2022 9:27 PM

But the most romantic gay novel was written by a man, a khm khm "straight man", Andre Aciman.

by Anonymousreply 56January 2, 2022 9:32 PM

I hated A Little Life

by Anonymousreply 57January 2, 2022 9:35 PM

LOL R55 that’s not it. Straight women aren’t exploring being attracted to effeminate men (???) - they are the putting themselves in the place of the effeminate bottom attracted to the straight-acting top who protects and cares for them. Hence why the bottoms have self-lubricating holes and the prostate functions like a clit and they get fingered constantly in slash fiction… and THAT is why it never reads right when you’re actually a gay man.

It’s women writing for women. Which is fine. Let them do it - who cares. As long as it’s not torture porn, who really gives a fuck. It’s more about them and the oppressiveness of straight male gaze. It has very little to do with the reality of being a gay man. And the majority of it is written for free and on free websites where they all write for each other.

I will say that it’s apparently harmful for gaylings who grow up reading this shit and apparently don’t realize the need for lube the first time they get fucked. Reddit is full of accounts of the poor gaylings thinking spit is sufficient and being in a ton of pain.

by Anonymousreply 58January 2, 2022 10:11 PM

r58 You should open your mind more on this issue. From my readings on transgender sexuality, I know that many straight women are attracted to effeminate men and that many of these women eventually become "gay FTMs". Many gay FTMs are avid readers of yaoi and other forms of m/m slash.

If the object of the desires were the "masc top" character in these stories, there would be no reason to seek him out in gay-themed works - it would be much simpler to just consume heterosexual stories, where the difference in gender roles between the main couple is much more obvious than in a same-sex pairing.

by Anonymousreply 59January 2, 2022 10:25 PM

Alright r59 you make good point. Fair enough.

by Anonymousreply 60January 2, 2022 10:29 PM

No R58 you are right. I noticed it in Charmies case. Those women are crazy about Armie and attracted to him, not Timmy. They just have some obstacle in their mind that doesn'ta allow them to imagine Armie with themselves, they are maybe to unattractive, to old, too fat... Or have some issues with hetero relationships or whatever, it would take Freud to analyze it. Where an usual girl would imagine herself with her fave, they put a guy to whom they give a feminine traditional role.

by Anonymousreply 61January 2, 2022 10:36 PM

I think R58 is right, and I think it’s due to all of the negative ideas and images women are given about straight sex. They want to imagine themselves in an uninhibited, freer world, and they think that the world of gay men would be better.

by Anonymousreply 62January 2, 2022 11:37 PM


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by Anonymousreply 63January 2, 2022 11:44 PM

[quote] I think [R58] is right, and I think it’s due to all of the negative ideas and images women are given about straight sex.

They need to get over it and start claiming their own sexuality. Who knows? Maybe this torture porn is just an extension of something that started out very innocent. They start out fetishishizing gay men and they end up being jealous of them and wanting to see them tortured. Gay male sexuality has always been taboo.

by Anonymousreply 64January 2, 2022 11:44 PM

[quote]Kae Serinuma is a second year high schooler and an avid fujoshi who secretly ships her classmates, Igarashi-kun and Nanashima-kun. The death of her favorite anime character causes her to become stressed—and loses weight rapidly. Now that Serinuma has become an attractive girl to her classmates, her snarky kouhai Shinomiya-kun, and her senpai Mutsumi, how is she going to deal with them ...with her constant BL-filled, fujoshi mind?!

R63 Oh my god

by Anonymousreply 65January 2, 2022 11:51 PM

Yeah I can’t handle the mentality of straight women writing gay male torture porn. Very fucked up. My analysis stops with the idealized romance of their explicit and anatomically inaccurate gay male slash fiction.

by Anonymousreply 66January 2, 2022 11:55 PM

R64 I know only Charmies and their fanfic is very humiliating towards Timothee. This women can be disgusting, really.

by Anonymousreply 67January 2, 2022 11:56 PM

R66 Could it be they were sexually molested so they are projecting it on gay male characters?

by Anonymousreply 68January 2, 2022 11:57 PM

r64 one of the more prominent theories is about the social guilt of sexual desire and the fear/danger of seeking it from male partners, but it also in contrast with perceived feminist values and more specifically peer pressure from other women. . . so, they have more freedom in imagining themselves as male. Some would say this goes over the differences in perception when it comes to sexual assault concerning male and female victims. . . as well as the lack of agency some women are given when it comes to informed consent and that even in progressive circles women remain infantilized.

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by Anonymousreply 69January 2, 2022 11:57 PM

Psychologists have analyzed this R61

The take is that these women realize that their crush (Hammer) will never be with them as they are not attractive or young, and so rather than see him with another woman they fantasize about him with another man.

I have no doubt there is mpreg fanfic where Timmy has Armie's baby and all that.

by Anonymousreply 70January 2, 2022 11:59 PM

It’s funny that we are widely thought of as the deviant perverts when these filthy fraus are rubbing themselves raw writing about us fucking and getting tortured.

What a world.

by Anonymousreply 71January 3, 2022 12:05 AM

Slash fiction and yaoi are mostly harmless especially once you realize it's not about actual gay men but just idealized fantasies of gayness. Torture porn though is a bit too far. But gay men have created sadistic stories too. Dennis Cooper and Gregg Araki seem obsessed with killing gays. Pier Paolo Pasolini was behind Salo which while satirical was also his excuse at showing all that beautiful twink ass and dick. Some of the Nifty Archive stories can be very dark and twisted.

by Anonymousreply 72January 3, 2022 12:07 AM

R56 I find "Maurice" far more romantic than "Call Me By Your Name." SO is "The Charioteer" by lesbian novelist Mary Renault.

I'm currently reading "The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller--a retelling of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, told from the latter's point of view. In an interview at the back of the book, she notes an ex-boyfriend called it "classics fan fiction" (she majored in Classics at Brown, I think)--and she cheerfully concedes that that may not be a totally inaccurate description. But, thus far, I'm finding the writing style engaging and the relationship between the two adolescents (I've only got to the point where the Trojan War is beginning) touching and not inauthentic (like A Little Life). We'll see how I feel by the end.

I avoided reading it for quite awhile, precisely because I wondered if it would just seem like fan fiction. It doesn't, at least not to me--not yet.

I'm the one who recommended the Hamilton above, by the way. Hamilton is simply an excellent writer and has a depth of empathy--she has written more than one book from the point of view of a male, as well as from a working-class, not well-educated young wife (which she is not and was not when she wrote "The Book of Ruth"--she graduated from Carlton College and is one of the brightest people I know). With "Short Prince" it may help that the model for the protagonist is one of her closest friends, whom she has known since high school--but I also think she just has a capacity for empathy in life that informs her artistry--something Our Hanna does not seem to me to have a speck of.

by Anonymousreply 73January 3, 2022 12:08 AM

R73 I’ll check out Hamilton - thank you

by Anonymousreply 74January 3, 2022 12:09 AM

I knew about the straight male wankers and their love for "lesbian" porn, and I knew that cheap lesbian novels in 30s and 40s were written by men for men too. But I only recently found out about crazy fraus fetishizing gay men.

by Anonymousreply 75January 3, 2022 12:23 AM

R75, then you'd be surprised to hear that it was female writers who started the whole slash fan fic culture in the late 70s with Star Trek slash. Nothing new about the current state of things. There are some gorgeous gay stories at Gay Authors and Nifty written by women. One such story is a Starsky and Hutch slash fic Cost of Love. I've posted it before, and quite honestly it's been a few years since I read it but I remember loving how dark it was.

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by Anonymousreply 76January 3, 2022 12:51 AM

I've read Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys to understand this phenomenon better, and while the book itself seemed quite defensive in its attitude, as in there's nothing peculiar about women who write such fanfiction stories, my impression, based on the statistics given, was that more than half of those who write stories with gay male protagonists were either virgins intimidated by the idea of penetrative sex, women who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of heterosexual men or women who were otherwise maltreated (cheated on, humiliated, abandoned) by men and concluded that men are simply incapable of loving women and "true romance" is only possible between two guys because they can see each other as equals.

by Anonymousreply 77January 3, 2022 1:22 AM

Google Goofus and Gallant fan fiction for an entertaining couple of hours.

by Anonymousreply 78January 3, 2022 1:28 AM

Many, many heterosexual FTMs are either virgins or sexually inexperienced and their understandings of how sexual attraction works in the real world are informed by theory and ideology. Hence their shock that "CIS" gay men are usually not attracted to them.

by Anonymousreply 79January 3, 2022 1:29 AM

I think slash/gay romance fiction is completely different from what Yanagihara writes. She sounds like she’s in the arty de Sade/Gothic world of Jerzy Kosinski and Dennis Cooper, writers who were or are read by New York Review of Books types. The relentless grimness = “seriousness.”

by Anonymousreply 80January 3, 2022 1:34 AM

What r77 said. 100%.

MUCH safer to get off on gay male fan fiction if you’re terrified of and don’t trust straight men. Fictional gay men falling in love and fucking creates enough distance and takes women out of the equation so that it’s a safe way to enjoy sex and intimacy with men.

What’s more alarming is how this phenomenon reflects on straight men and the ways they treat women. Like we’ve already stated - this has very little, if anything, to do with us.

by Anonymousreply 81January 3, 2022 2:11 AM

Except when it escalates to them imagining they actually are us, and then demanding to redefine our identities, demanding to access our private spaces, and policing our sexualities because they think they are us.

by Anonymousreply 82January 3, 2022 2:21 AM

R82 I have to agree. Many girls seem obsessed with wanting to be a "gay boi." They see us gay men as fun-loving and free like something out of RuPaul or Will and Grace. It's odd. Many nonbinaries I've met are almost always young women who are either just lesbians or either just bisexuals usually dating men. I completely understand why young American women find it hard to have any confidence in their sexuality. Female sexuality has been shamed, commodified and controlled in our puritanical society. Women are either porn whores or uptight prudes. Never just well-adjusted and sexually realized beings. So becoming a man (either straight or gay) could be seen as an easier alternative. I know most women don't do this but I imagine mentally ill and traumatized girls who are swayed by media influence and peers could jump on the trans ideology without actually being transgender.

by Anonymousreply 83January 3, 2022 3:40 PM

I’m not really understanding the link between fraus writing fan fiction for each other and the trans….

Are you saying the younger fraus writing this stuff are also becoming FTM to they can be gay men?

by Anonymousreply 84January 3, 2022 3:48 PM

I avoid any sort of book where the author goes out of their way to humiliate and degrade an already " marginalised" character. Life isn't a bowl of cherries but I find that sort of writing off putting. Like the author is jerking it to the characters humiliation and pain.

by Anonymousreply 85January 3, 2022 3:59 PM

R85 I completely agree with you.

by Anonymousreply 86January 3, 2022 4:06 PM

As a black dude I hate when white authors fixate on the atrocities of slavery and Jim Crow. Yes, it's important and part of history but I find it odd how it's the only image that white creators seem to know. Black people have accomplished a lot in sciences, politics, the arts, education and built various self-governing communities yet that is hardly the subject of movies. I imagine Indigenous people also get tired of seeing themselves only in a historical standpoint either in Westerns or pioneer tales which are eerie because of the genocidal implications. I loved stuff like Midnight, Blackbird, Eve's Bayou, Daughters of the Dust and Their Eyes Were Watching God it was a movie just about the Black community and tackled subjects of identity, homosexuality and women's rights without having a white savior or putting people through sadistic torture. Hairspray by John Waters was a better movie about racism than most of what Hollywood put out.

by Anonymousreply 87January 3, 2022 4:08 PM

^ I'm bringing this up because some straight writers see gays as similarly damaged, mentally ill and always a victim when there's more to homosexual identity than that.

by Anonymousreply 88January 3, 2022 4:10 PM

I loved A Little Life and recommend it to people all the time. Not one person has come back to me to say it was horrible. So from what some of you are saying, men should only write about men and woman should only write about woman, gays on gay and straights on straights, if a man dares to write about a woman he should be cancelled. No thanks

by Anonymousreply 89January 3, 2022 4:12 PM

agreed ^

by Anonymousreply 90January 3, 2022 4:21 PM

R89 Again, in spite of the title of this thread, I think the main problem is not a straight woman writing about gay characters, rather it's the fact of a slog of 800 pages of bad writing.

For reference, what other novels do you love enough to recommend?

by Anonymousreply 91January 3, 2022 4:25 PM

R44, I came here to make that recommendation. What a marvelous book.

"A Little Life"? Not so much. I wound up reading the plot on Wikipedia when I couldn't stand the book another second.

by Anonymousreply 92January 3, 2022 4:32 PM

Oh nice! Just downloaded the Jane Hamilton book.

Just finished LESS by Andrew Sean Greer. LOVED it.

by Anonymousreply 93January 3, 2022 4:34 PM

R93, agree about LESS, also the other posters' Mary Renault suggestions like THE PERSIAN BOY and THE CHARIOTEER..

by Anonymousreply 94January 3, 2022 4:48 PM

What are some recent successful books about gay men written BY gay men? I’m interested in novels but also short story collections, the latter of which seem to be having a moment right now.

I will say that one of the most heartbreaking stories about a gay man (who is living an outwardly straight life) is the short story “Out of Body” in Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad. It’s a story that I think of often and is one of my favorites of hers in that collection.

by Anonymousreply 95January 3, 2022 7:39 PM

R95 - did you read LESS? I think it's from 2017. Won the Pulitzer and written by a gay man.

by Anonymousreply 96January 3, 2022 7:41 PM

Yes, R96. Thanks. I read and enjoyed Less.

by Anonymousreply 97January 3, 2022 7:42 PM

R95 Have you read Garth Greenwell's collection of short stories from 2020, Cleanness? Although Greenwell is turning out to be one of those authors who keeps telling the same story over and over again (and American ex-pat in Eastern Europe looking for dick), it's a good story, and he's a talented writer. Cleanness has one story that Garthwell asserts is his attempt to see if he can just write hardcore porn... it's not the best story in the collection.

by Anonymousreply 98January 3, 2022 7:57 PM

This isn't fiction - but I enjoyed "Out of the Shadows" by Walt Odets. He's a gay clinical psychologist and writes about the subconscious trauma gay men deal with from the time we are boys and how that impacts our development, relationships and ability to self-actualize.

The NYTimes raved about it - this is a quote from the review...

“Out of the Shadows” finds its purpose in its strong last two chapters, including an extraordinary one focused on Odets’s small chosen family of friends and lovers. Here, his writing is poignant and achingly beautiful — so much so, in fact, that I occasionally had to put the book down to avoid weeping on the subway.

MARY!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (but he's not wrong - I found it very moving as well)

by Anonymousreply 99January 3, 2022 8:01 PM

I haven't read the book. I mainly read nonfiction anymore. I did read the synopsis on Wikipedia and was horrified. No way, I could read that and sleep well afterwards. The synopsis sounded like torture sicko stuff! Not kidding.

by Anonymousreply 100January 3, 2022 8:05 PM

R91, when I recommend a book to someone it is usually based on the type of person...I wouldn't recommend this book to a person who could be triggered by some of the topics in it...I also wouldn't recommend it to a person who just couldn't handle it. Books that I have recommended in the past couple of years. Happy Valley The Underground Railroad On Beauty and Swing Time Bios on Bunny Mellon, Woodrow Wilson, Princess Louise and Clementine Churchill Less This is Going to Hurt Good Eggs

by Anonymousreply 101January 3, 2022 11:03 PM

r46, You reminded me of when my Southern Christian mother used to pass arounnd E Lyn Harris books with other older church women. I thought it quite humorous.

by Anonymousreply 102January 3, 2022 11:52 PM

[quote]the effeminate bottom attracted to the straight-acting top who protects and cares for them

It seems this is slowly changing. There are many out gays nowadays, so women are actually having contact with the real deal. Steve/Bucky (Captain America and the Winter Soldier) became an extremely popular "ship" among them, and they're both buff, conventionally masculine guys. There's even a Wikipedia article about it.

Offsite Link
by Anonymousreply 103January 4, 2022 1:27 PM

This is so problematic to me.

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by Anonymousreply 104January 13, 2022 9:25 PM

So you think writers should only write what you want them to write, R104? I hope you were being ironic with that "problematic" crap.

If you don't like what she writes, write your own book.

by Anonymousreply 105January 17, 2022 1:26 AM

R105 you don’t find it strange that this straight single woman now writes *exclusively* about gay men? I find that fucked up. Wtf does she understand about gay men? If she only wrote “A little life” - fine - but her follow up book is also entirely about gay men? Why isn’t she writing a straight female character in any of this?

I would feel similarly if a white writer wrote entirely about black characters. Or if an American white woman wrote entirely about Japanese women in Tokyo. I think it’s suspicious when writers don’t write shit about their own experience and focus entirely on another marginalized group.

So yeah. I can question it. And you can defend her right as a frau to wrote about whatever the fuck she wants. That doesn’t mean I have to “write my own book.”

Also I started “to paradise” and it was dreadful. Read like fan fiction. Which similarly is written largely by straight women.

by Anonymousreply 106January 17, 2022 1:50 AM

She exploited Robby Benson, that's for sure!

by Anonymousreply 107January 17, 2022 2:09 AM
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