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The Men from the Boys

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Jeff O’Brien - bright, good-looking, and inching dangerously past thirty, is caught between two generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation X. He’s been with his partner, Lloyd, for seven years now, but when Lloyd announces that there’s no passion left between them, Jeff is sent into something of an existential frenzy. Desperate not to end up alone, Jeff haunts the dance Jeff O’Brien - bright, good-looking, and inching dangerously past thirty, is caught between two generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation X. He’s been with his partner, Lloyd, for seven years now, but when Lloyd announces that there’s no passion left between them, Jeff is sent into something of an existential frenzy. Desperate not to end up alone, Jeff haunts the dance floor and roadside rest stops, finding both the sordid and the sublime in anonymous encounters. But it’s love he’s after, so ultimately it’s his bittersweet romance in Provincetown with Eduardo, twenty-two and a vision of gorgeous, wide-eyed youth, that lingers in his mind and seems to hold the answers he seeks. This is a story of a man coming to terms with the accelerating ambiguity of his world, where men die young but old age is actively devalued. It is the story of gay life today, the life being led by thousands of men trying desperately to keep up, and to discover if anything really unites gay men other than desire. It is the story of how the truths of gay life are handed down from gay generation to gay generation. It is the story of what separates the men from the boys.


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Jeff O’Brien - bright, good-looking, and inching dangerously past thirty, is caught between two generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation X. He’s been with his partner, Lloyd, for seven years now, but when Lloyd announces that there’s no passion left between them, Jeff is sent into something of an existential frenzy. Desperate not to end up alone, Jeff haunts the dance Jeff O’Brien - bright, good-looking, and inching dangerously past thirty, is caught between two generations, the Baby Boomers and Generation X. He’s been with his partner, Lloyd, for seven years now, but when Lloyd announces that there’s no passion left between them, Jeff is sent into something of an existential frenzy. Desperate not to end up alone, Jeff haunts the dance floor and roadside rest stops, finding both the sordid and the sublime in anonymous encounters. But it’s love he’s after, so ultimately it’s his bittersweet romance in Provincetown with Eduardo, twenty-two and a vision of gorgeous, wide-eyed youth, that lingers in his mind and seems to hold the answers he seeks. This is a story of a man coming to terms with the accelerating ambiguity of his world, where men die young but old age is actively devalued. It is the story of gay life today, the life being led by thousands of men trying desperately to keep up, and to discover if anything really unites gay men other than desire. It is the story of how the truths of gay life are handed down from gay generation to gay generation. It is the story of what separates the men from the boys.

30 review for The Men from the Boys

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robert Dunbar

    I didn’t get very far in, but that’s quite enough of that. Revelation: having characters suffer and die from AIDS does not automatically provide them with depth. At some level, apparently, shallowness remains implacable. On the plus side, there is a great deal of sex in these pages, though of an oddly non-erotic variety, as though sections had been culled from some fruity Harold Robbins novel, the tawny Bulgarian fingered my serape sort of thing. A little of this goes an awfully long way.

  2. 4 out of 5

    John-Fig

    I know that this book is like those films we love the first time we see them and then, on subsequent viewings, find them nearly intolerable. There is a sweetness that I took away from reading this book and I am not about to spoil it by rereading it and finding out that it is actually poor. Nope.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Wendell Hennan

    An emotional read, touching and explaining so many gay life issues. Why gay couples "open" up their relationships, why gay men replace families with friends who understand them better than families, and communicate better with them than families. And perhaps most important of all, that as gays age and mature their passions become the waves of the ocean on a sunny day, the setting sun, no different than heterosexuals. A most lovely crafted story, accurately describing gay life in the 90's and mak An emotional read, touching and explaining so many gay life issues. Why gay couples "open" up their relationships, why gay men replace families with friends who understand them better than families, and communicate better with them than families. And perhaps most important of all, that as gays age and mature their passions become the waves of the ocean on a sunny day, the setting sun, no different than heterosexuals. A most lovely crafted story, accurately describing gay life in the 90's and making us all wish we had summered each year in Provincetown.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Hendecam

    After finishing William J. Mann's novel, The Men from the Boys, I couldn't tell if I liked it or not. Yes, there are certain passages that clearly show Mann is (or, at least can be) a talented writer. Yet, there was a lack of any real depth with the characters and the plot. The story centers around Jeff and Lloyd, who find their relationship falling apart once Lloyd exclaims that there's no passion left. The book jumps back and forth in time, alternating between a past summer in Provincetown and After finishing William J. Mann's novel, The Men from the Boys, I couldn't tell if I liked it or not. Yes, there are certain passages that clearly show Mann is (or, at least can be) a talented writer. Yet, there was a lack of any real depth with the characters and the plot. The story centers around Jeff and Lloyd, who find their relationship falling apart once Lloyd exclaims that there's no passion left. The book jumps back and forth in time, alternating between a past summer in Provincetown and the present in Boston. This structure, which showed what was happening for the main characters at two very different, yet equally important times of their lives, worked well and is quite creative. Jeff and Lloyd enjoy and open relationship, which might turn some off automatically. For me, it wasn't so much that they had an open relationship that left a bad taste, but, at times, it seemed like the author was writing an essay on why open relationships are better than monogamy; or, it seemed like he was really reaching to defend the idea that monogamy doesn't work. I can understand his argument, yet, like other ideas presented in the book, it didn't work to enhance the plot all that much. Instead of reading a good piece of fiction, I felt as if I was reading strung together essays on the nature of gay culture and relationships at times. He (not so) cleverly hides these essay-like moments behind long conversations between Jeff, Lloyd, and their best friend, Javitz, an older, mentor-like figure. Another problem is with the main character, Jeff. While he's not completely insufferable, he's not the most likeable character ever created and doesn't seem to show any growth by the end of the book. He gets obsessed with young, attractive guys and argues that he sometimes falls in love with them for only a night. But, he seems incapable of describing his strong feelings beyond long descriptions of their sculpted abs and pecs. He's annoyingly superficial. And yes, this youth and looks obsession in the gay community is something that exists and could be interesting to write about ... however, it doesn't seem like Mann scratches the surface enough on any of this. There's so much more to explore behind the why of all of this, yet Mann doesn't do that at all. Throughout the book, Jeff comes off as pretty whiny and dim as to why his relationship isn't working. As Mann seems to make an argument for open relationships, his story points out how many problems it can open up. In other words, he seems to be making an argument for open relationships while unknowingly showing the obvious problems that can arise with such a situation. At numerous points while reading the book, I felt like hitting Jeff on the head and saying, "Duh! Dude, what do you expect?" Parts of the book are pretty cliche as well. Some characters, like Javitz, could have been really interesting if explored further. Pretty disappointing book overall.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Denis

    A really great gay novel that is both well written and extremely true to what being gay in the nineties meant. Mann is a much better writer than one could expect, a true author who does not just tell a story but write it carefully, with style, intelligence, and wit. His character are as believable as they are interesting, and it's difficult not to get attached to them and to understand what they go through. The two sequels are equally good, and the whole series really create a vast panorama of g A really great gay novel that is both well written and extremely true to what being gay in the nineties meant. Mann is a much better writer than one could expect, a true author who does not just tell a story but write it carefully, with style, intelligence, and wit. His character are as believable as they are interesting, and it's difficult not to get attached to them and to understand what they go through. The two sequels are equally good, and the whole series really create a vast panorama of gay life that has true social and psychological depth.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Chidzey

    This was a challenging and confronting book that covers broad themes which dictate the way our lives play out: love, friendship, passion, relationships, family and death. I found the style of writing added to the overall emotion that the various storylines evoked from me. I did find that my attitude towards Jeff, the central character, changed several times throughout the book as at times I could relate to him completely and at other times I found him frustrating and annoying. I expect that if I This was a challenging and confronting book that covers broad themes which dictate the way our lives play out: love, friendship, passion, relationships, family and death. I found the style of writing added to the overall emotion that the various storylines evoked from me. I did find that my attitude towards Jeff, the central character, changed several times throughout the book as at times I could relate to him completely and at other times I found him frustrating and annoying. I expect that if I read this book at different stages in my life it would have different meaning for me and evoke a different reaction. Overall, the book is one that will stick with me for many years to come - it is one of those rare stories where one walks away with more questions than answers

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ruddy

    I felt so gay reading this...and I loved it. I think this was my first gay novel. Even though I could not really relate to any of the characters (aside from being gay), I found this to be a good summer read. It might seem a little soap opera-ish at first, but it really deals with a lot of relationship issues that could happen to anyone. .

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brad

    this is my life... well, not my life but a quarter of the way in and the writing is almost exactly like what i think in my head. slightly uncomfortable but also comforting to know it isn't just my crazy brain that feels and thinks this way. okay, took me a while. it wasn't horrible but it wasn't great. seemed more like a self-gratifying exploration than a good novel to me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Really, really enjoyed this book. I started reading Mann's Where The Boys Are and kept hearing so much about Alister that I had to stop midway through and pick up the first book. Excellent writing, current and remarkably "real" for the circuit boy types...a must read for any gay (or straight) man...

  10. 5 out of 5

    5amWriterMan

    I quite enjoyed this story. It was a hurdle at first, frustrated with Jeff's character and finding it difficult to immerse myself into the story but after the first 100 pages, I couldn't put the book down! I was compelled until the final period of the final sentence...and I wanted more. Looking forward to reading the next book in the series, "Where the Boys Are." :-))

  11. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Bought and read this soon after it came out one very fun party summer long ago in Provincetown, appropriately, and forgot about it until today. Was buried on my bookshelves. All of Mann's books are fun, realistic, erotic, quick reads, and have become records of gay life as it was before Grindr changed everything.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Neet

    I read this book eons ago, I think it was a time when they still his had bookstores. I read it several times, and it got to the point where the poor book was worn and missing pages. So, I happily purchased the book in the Kindle format. This should be told, is a 3 part series. We meet the MC, Jeff, a self-absorbed writer in his early 30's already complaining about lost youth. Jeff, is an likeable sort, selfish, always looking for the next trick, but in a 6 year open relationship with Lloyd. The I read this book eons ago, I think it was a time when they still his had bookstores. I read it several times, and it got to the point where the poor book was worn and missing pages. So, I happily purchased the book in the Kindle format. This should be told, is a 3 part series. We meet the MC, Jeff, a self-absorbed writer in his early 30's already complaining about lost youth. Jeff, is an likeable sort, selfish, always looking for the next trick, but in a 6 year open relationship with Lloyd. The book takes place in the 90's but, Jeff foolish high risk sexual activity is maddening. This is a man who has watched friends and lovers die of AIDS, but still has risky sex. He's also a man that has gets jealous at a drop of a hat at Lloyd's tricks becoming serious with him, but has no problem falling in love during the summer with a trick. The trick on this occasion at a house that Jeff, Lloyd, and his friend, ex-lover, and mentor, Javitz split the cost in rent is a young 22 year old named Eduardo. Jeff doesn't mean to, but falls in love with the young man. Javitz, who is HIV positive, tries to warn the young man about what he can and can't expect from Jeff. I love the character Javitz, he's in his late 40's and activist, a former professor who has the wisdom and maturity the younger men lack. Jeff is so infuriating, and I won't say at the end of this book you'll like him better. Despite, an unlikable MC, there's plenty to like about this book .It's a good read and highly recommended.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Johnathan Alesso

    Despite an unlikable protagonist and a lack of plot, I found heart in this book. Jeff is obnoxious and creates his own problems, but given the circumstances I can understand why. I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy for such a whiny, narcissistic, attractive man. Why he should be surprised why his ill-conceived plans blow up is a mystery, and unfortunately contribute to the only semblance of a plot arc this book has. His quasi-relationship with Lloyd is head-spinning and incomprehensible. Despite an unlikable protagonist and a lack of plot, I found heart in this book. Jeff is obnoxious and creates his own problems, but given the circumstances I can understand why. I had a difficult time feeling any sympathy for such a whiny, narcissistic, attractive man. Why he should be surprised why his ill-conceived plans blow up is a mystery, and unfortunately contribute to the only semblance of a plot arc this book has. His quasi-relationship with Lloyd is head-spinning and incomprehensible. One wonders whether the two simply love their own codependent misery. Fortunately, the side character lift the book back into readable territory. Javitz is smart and uplifting, as are the various other side characters. Perhaps the best character of all is no character at all - the Cape Cod backdrop is absolutely gorgeous. I fell in love with the descriptions of summer and winter, the zeitgeist of summer on the beach.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jordan Lombardo

    This is a tough one... First off, I am a huge fan of Mann's writing techniques (similar to Michael Thomas Ford) and literary skills . If you've read "Object of Desire", you'll know he's a quite a talented author. With all of this being said, "The Men from the Boys" has been a mixture of well thought out characters and downright boring scenes. I'm disappointed to say the least. I believe I read another reader's review right before reading where he/she claimed that characters struggling and living This is a tough one... First off, I am a huge fan of Mann's writing techniques (similar to Michael Thomas Ford) and literary skills . If you've read "Object of Desire", you'll know he's a quite a talented author. With all of this being said, "The Men from the Boys" has been a mixture of well thought out characters and downright boring scenes. I'm disappointed to say the least. I believe I read another reader's review right before reading where he/she claimed that characters struggling and living through Aids does not necessarily equate to a strong, well-written novel. This is indeed true and more than apparent as the story flows. I truly don't think I've ever had such a difficult time FINISHING this book. The last few chapters are a snore. I have low expectations for the next novel in this series "Where the Boys Are". I guess we shall see.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Nicolas Chinardet

    The book is a melancholy meditation on the meaning of love at a time when it could often become synonymous with death. The structure of the book is intricate, telling the story of the three main characters over two years. There are two alternating strands in the book. One set originally set in Provincetown in 1994 and another set in Boston about 6 month later. Eventually, as the storylines catch up with each other, the locations of the strands are swapped and the elements of the story poetically The book is a melancholy meditation on the meaning of love at a time when it could often become synonymous with death. The structure of the book is intricate, telling the story of the three main characters over two years. There are two alternating strands in the book. One set originally set in Provincetown in 1994 and another set in Boston about 6 month later. Eventually, as the storylines catch up with each other, the locations of the strands are swapped and the elements of the story poetically merge into one.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ricardo

    Definitely entertaining in a "look at the acts in the carnival" way. Being a gay man I can understand the life of a circuit boy but unfortunately I believe that they perpetuate the same thing they want the most: acceptance and respect. If they are the first ones to "discard" people who don't look perfect and treat them as lesser beings, how can they expect anybody else to treat them as equals?

  17. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Much better than I was expecting

  18. 4 out of 5

    John Musgrove

    Dull. Self-centered and hedonistic gay men that cannot grow up. I don't need a book to experience that. There are men everywhere, gay and straight, that behave this way.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Lori S.

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Told in the first person, present tense[1], this story is from the POV of Jeff O'Brien, our narrator. The story is structured an interesting way with two years of the lives of his lover, Lloyd Griffin, and mentor, David Javitz, who has and is dying from complications of AIDS, interwoven with each other. 1994 then 1995 are interchanged throughout the course of the book, with the story following the characters in both Boston and Providence, where we are introduced into Jeff's life, his open relati Told in the first person, present tense[1], this story is from the POV of Jeff O'Brien, our narrator. The story is structured an interesting way with two years of the lives of his lover, Lloyd Griffin, and mentor, David Javitz, who has and is dying from complications of AIDS, interwoven with each other. 1994 then 1995 are interchanged throughout the course of the book, with the story following the characters in both Boston and Providence, where we are introduced into Jeff's life, his open relationship with Lloyd and his love for his mentor Javitz. It's a fascinating look into an unusual family structure that works for these three men, yet at the same time creates its own problems and complications. Because of the open relationship, Jeff and Lloyd are both free to explore others in their lives. This, however, is starting to get harder for the pair of them and Lloyd is beginning to drift away from Jeff, until one day he announces that he wants a separation. For his part, Jeff is someone who doesn't take change, criticism or loss very well. He's self centered, too, which affects how his tricks and especially the young man he hooks up with, see and react to him. Getting older doesn't help either, especially in the youth driven world in which Jeff wants to stay. He feels increasingly distant from this world, as if his getting age lines and crow's feet around the eyes is a detriment, rather than a sign of his getting better. This is a theme is carried into the next book Where the Boys Are. Up next: Men Who Love Men [1]Which I hate with a passion, so why I keep reading stories written this way is a mystery to me!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Osborne

    This was a tough one, mainly because, for nearly the entire book, the MC/narrator is a complete ass. Jeff O'Brien is vain, selfish, inconsiderate, and so self-absorbed that he can't see how his actions cause the situations he finds distasteful. Mind you, I'm sure he's a perfect representation of many gay men in the 1990s who found themselves getting too old for the party crowd, but weren't ready for adulthood just yet. He's just the type I would have run away from, screaming! Another trouble is This was a tough one, mainly because, for nearly the entire book, the MC/narrator is a complete ass. Jeff O'Brien is vain, selfish, inconsiderate, and so self-absorbed that he can't see how his actions cause the situations he finds distasteful. Mind you, I'm sure he's a perfect representation of many gay men in the 1990s who found themselves getting too old for the party crowd, but weren't ready for adulthood just yet. He's just the type I would have run away from, screaming! Another trouble is the structure of the novel. The chapters switch back and forth from 1995 to 1994 alternatively. It makes sense, oddly, but at times I had to remind myself what time period we were in, especially if I picked up the book mid-chapter. (Are we in 1995? No, they're in Provincetown, and Jeff and his lover are still together, so it's 1994...sigh). I can see why it was told this way, to show how events led to "present" day, but it was still a minor annoyance. That being said, Mann is a terrific writer, and you really felt you knew these characters. Jeff, for all his MANY faults, is strangely sympathetic. Stealing the show, however, are Javitz, the elder gay statesman dying of AIDS, and Eduardo, the trick that Jeff ends up falling in love with. Jeff and his lover, Lloyd, have an open relationship, but it's obviously not working. Jeff thinks only of Eduardo, even though he denies he loves the younger man, and Lloyd believes that passion has gone out of their relationship. Gee, I wonder why.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Nick Duretta

    I don't read many gay novels; I burned out on them in the Nineties, since so many seemed to be about AIDS and its impact. That's why it was strange reading this one, written in 1997, now. AIDS figures into the plot, but it's more a post-AIDS look at gay relationships, why they're different, and why they're also not. Still, the story, although well-written, seems dated. Maybe it's the frank and somewhat overemphasized promiscuity, maybe it's the repeated navel-gazing done by the narrator. Clearly I don't read many gay novels; I burned out on them in the Nineties, since so many seemed to be about AIDS and its impact. That's why it was strange reading this one, written in 1997, now. AIDS figures into the plot, but it's more a post-AIDS look at gay relationships, why they're different, and why they're also not. Still, the story, although well-written, seems dated. Maybe it's the frank and somewhat overemphasized promiscuity, maybe it's the repeated navel-gazing done by the narrator. Clearly Mann is a good writer, and I'm tempted to read some of his later work, but this novel is definitely of its time. Weird saying that about a book that's only slightly more than ten years old.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christoph Fischer

    "The Men from the Boys" by William J. Mann captures accurately the spirit of a gay generation. Infidelity, sexual desire, self-absorption, hedonism, party-mania, body cult, anonymous encounters and love in the times of AIDS - the book manages to show it with bittersweetness and and the innate ambiguity. The main characters are well chosen to highlight the experience and add personal reflections through individual life experiences that fit and compliment the themes. I found the book more descriptiv "The Men from the Boys" by William J. Mann captures accurately the spirit of a gay generation. Infidelity, sexual desire, self-absorption, hedonism, party-mania, body cult, anonymous encounters and love in the times of AIDS - the book manages to show it with bittersweetness and and the innate ambiguity. The main characters are well chosen to highlight the experience and add personal reflections through individual life experiences that fit and compliment the themes. I found the book more descriptive rather than inspirational or innovative but would definitely recommend it to other readers for its athmospheric and realistic feel.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    I have to admit but did not know what to expect when I was pulled into the world of gay men, gay friends, gay lovers trying to figure out themselves and the prevailing question of in the early 90's where the gay culture was trying to find out what separates the men from the boys. It was hard to root for the protagonist, but the couple of Jeff and Loyd were a heartbreaking depiction of a gay relationship. Great read, cleverly written, and looking forward to revisiting these lifelong gay charact I have to admit but did not know what to expect when I was pulled into the world of gay men, gay friends, gay lovers trying to figure out themselves and the prevailing question of in the early 90's where the gay culture was trying to find out what separates the men from the boys. It was hard to root for the protagonist, but the couple of Jeff and Loyd were a heartbreaking depiction of a gay relationship. Great read, cleverly written, and looking forward to revisiting these lifelong gay characters in future books to come.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kellie Kreutz norris

    I'm sorry to say, I did not like this book at all. I hated the back and forth between years, it just got really confusing. Secondly I have read many MM books and this is the first that gave being gay a bad name. Educated men who are gay activists but reduce to wear a condom during the big AIDS erra, really?! They even had many friends die of AIDS. I personally didn't like the open relationship between these two characters. I am very open minded to a lot of things but to me this is a disaster wai I'm sorry to say, I did not like this book at all. I hated the back and forth between years, it just got really confusing. Secondly I have read many MM books and this is the first that gave being gay a bad name. Educated men who are gay activists but reduce to wear a condom during the big AIDS erra, really?! They even had many friends die of AIDS. I personally didn't like the open relationship between these two characters. I am very open minded to a lot of things but to me this is a disaster waiting to happen. On an up note, I found very few errors in this story.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Manatee

    I really enjoyed this book about the ambiguities of love and relationships and look forward to reading the rest in the series. I was utterly fascinated by the idea that the gay characters create their own families and define love in a fashion that works for them. I loved the idea of the threesome together composing the happy ending. I was also pleased with the innovative structure in the novel as the chapters moved back and forth in time.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Aussie54

    Another story I enjoyed reading, even though the main character isn’t particularly likeable. I don’t like non-monogamous relationships, but these seem to be what Mann writes, taken from his own experience, I believe. In this story, Jeff’s obsession with Eduardo takes its toll on his relationship with long-time lover Lloyd, and things won’t be the same again. I’m looking forward to reading the other two stories in the trilogy.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Eric Swanson

    Mr. Mann is a decent writer, and his first novel contains some intriguing insights into gay relationships in the '90s. But his shifts back and forth in time were confusing, and his characters -- especially Jeff, the narrator -- are so self-absorbed and shallow that it's difficult to care about them. The only exception is Javitz, Jeff's former boyfriend and one of the three main characters in the book. I would have liked to get to know him better.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Will Bellais

    This is William Mann's first published novel. An interesting construction -- and story that rings true. Set in Boston and Provincetown MA he chronicles the change AID and HIV brought to the gay community. Great read!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Fast read. Sweet and nostalgic. Sort of took me back to the mid-90s. (For the record, I've never had a beeper or cut-off denim short....:) Jeff was sort of annoying through most of the novel. He was so afraid of change.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John

    Mann is a good story teller. Didnt realize this was an older book. Ha a lot of angst, sad, tumult, depressively accurate though. Had several friends die about he time this first released. Havent finished it yet....taking time to digest the messages.

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