“Who Wants to Live Forever?” Andrew Holleran, Garth Greenwell, and The Gayest Decade That Never Ended

John Hawley

Abstract


James Baldwin’s remarkable second novel, Giovanni’s Room (1956) influenced all subsequent gay writing—not only in its themes, but also in its tone. Paying frequent homage to that book, Andrew Holleran’s Dancer from the Dance and other fiction of the Eighties taught gay men how to be gay, and the melancholic tone these novels created persisted for decades to come, exemplified most recently in Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs to You (2016).  An unexpressed loss imbues the work of David Leavitt, Edmund White, Larry Kramer, Michael Cunningham, and Alan Hollinghurst, but the argument here is that more recent protagonists are, if anything, even more solitary than those in the bathhouses and discos of the Eighties.


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