Very few writers have the prescience or audacity to produce one of the standard works of their era--not a classic, necessarily, but a book that defines its own cultural moment in startling new terms, like One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
or Portnoy's Complaint
. Activist and rabble-rouser Larry Kramer has the distinction of having written not only one of the earliest and best-known plays on AIDS, The Normal Heart
, but also the astonishing satire of gay urban sexual mores Faggots
, perhaps the most reviled novel in the gay literary canon. A grim, graphic expansion on John Rechy's Numbers
, which chronicled a hustler's soulless game of sexual conquest, Kramer's pornopticon turns off many readers by about page 3, when its hero, the screenwriter Fred Lemish, is offered an array of dubious pleasures in a private room at the infamous Everard Baths in New York. What Lemish really wants, of course, is true love, preferably from his elusive boyfriend, Dinky Adams. But as long as he's in the room...
Celebrated and excoriated when it first appeared in 1978, this reprint of a gay anticlassic is not for the faint of heart. For the rest of us, it is a harsh, fascinating, and somewhat eerie revisitation of the carnal excesses of a generation that couldn't hear the bell tolling over the disco beat.
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Thirty-nine year old Fred Lemish always hoped love would come by forty, and with four days to go, he begins a compulsive, yet humorous, search for that love and commitment.