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Flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge and steadfast, cautious Roger Sansarc are second cousins who are both gay and whose lifelong friendship begins when they first meet as nine-year-old boys in 1954. At crucial moments in their personal histories their lives intersect, and each discovers his own unique - and uniquely gay- identity. Through the lends of their complex, tumul Flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge and steadfast, cautious Roger Sansarc are second cousins who are both gay and whose lifelong friendship begins when they first meet as nine-year-old boys in 1954. At crucial moments in their personal histories their lives intersect, and each discovers his own unique - and uniquely gay- identity. Through the lends of their complex, tumultuous, yet enduring relationship - and their involvement with the handsome model, poet and decorated Vietnam vet Matt Loguidice, whom they both love - Felice Picano chronicles and celebrates gay life and subculture over the last half of the twentieth century. From Malibu Beach in its palmist surfer days to the legendary parties at Fire Island Pines in the 1970s, from San Francisco during its gayest era to AIDS activism in Greenwich Village in the 1990s, Like People in History presents 'the heroic and funny saga of the last three decades by someone who saw everything and forgot nothing' (Edmund White).


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Flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge and steadfast, cautious Roger Sansarc are second cousins who are both gay and whose lifelong friendship begins when they first meet as nine-year-old boys in 1954. At crucial moments in their personal histories their lives intersect, and each discovers his own unique - and uniquely gay- identity. Through the lends of their complex, tumul Flamboyant, mercurial Alistair Dodge and steadfast, cautious Roger Sansarc are second cousins who are both gay and whose lifelong friendship begins when they first meet as nine-year-old boys in 1954. At crucial moments in their personal histories their lives intersect, and each discovers his own unique - and uniquely gay- identity. Through the lends of their complex, tumultuous, yet enduring relationship - and their involvement with the handsome model, poet and decorated Vietnam vet Matt Loguidice, whom they both love - Felice Picano chronicles and celebrates gay life and subculture over the last half of the twentieth century. From Malibu Beach in its palmist surfer days to the legendary parties at Fire Island Pines in the 1970s, from San Francisco during its gayest era to AIDS activism in Greenwich Village in the 1990s, Like People in History presents 'the heroic and funny saga of the last three decades by someone who saw everything and forgot nothing' (Edmund White).

30 review for Like People in History

  1. 4 out of 5

    LenaRibka

    Audible This book is magnificent. A gem. Unforgettable. Incredible. Provoking. Like People in History covers the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and the very beginning of the 1990s, probably the most significant and crucial years in the history of gay movement. This book is often termed as a gay male epic. I have to admit, that this + the title was also(unfortunately) the main reason, why I waited so long with reading it: I was afraid that this book would be too documentary and there Audible This book is magnificent. A gem. Unforgettable. Incredible. Provoking. Like People in History covers the 1950s, the 1960s, the 1970s, the 1980s and the very beginning of the 1990s, probably the most significant and crucial years in the history of gay movement. This book is often termed as a gay male epic. I have to admit, that this + the title was also(unfortunately) the main reason, why I waited so long with reading it: I was afraid that this book would be too documentary and therefore maybe flat and free of emotions, written in a non-fictional style - I’m not a big fan of non-fictional books. How I was wrong!.. At this point I have to express my sincere gratitude to Ethan Sawyer, an audio book narrator. Because hadn’t I listened to a sample on Audible, Like People in History would have been still waited to be discovered by me. But I did! And I was immediately drew into the story, literally, from the first syllable. Of course, the voice and narrating is nothing without a proper content, but I just want to emphasize what an excellent job Ethan Sawyer did. The story opens in New York in 1991, in our days, what of course is relative. This book- I couldn’t believe it, but it is true-was published in 1996! Roger Sansarc, a first person narrator, a well know editor, writer, university professor and gay rights activist, together with his young lover Wally gets ready for a 45th -birthday party of his cousin Alistair Dodge, who is suffering from AIDS. Soon we’ll find out that a birthday present for Alistair that Roger PROMISED to give him is the sixty pills with which Alistair fully intends to end his life tonight, when the last guest is gone. This event brings all memories back, in the 1954, the year when Alistair and Roger met the first time, and the readers will be taken on a fascinating journey through decades, from their childhood in the early 50s, through the Vietnam War's period, the Stonewall era, the AIDS epidemic, through Woodstock, LA, Chelsea, San Francisco, Fire Island, and Manhattan. Like People in History is a portrait of gay America during 4 decades, but it doesn’t force you into historical facts, it shows you this period of time from the perspective of our narrator Roger, this book is in the first place the story of two cousins, Roger and Alistair. Their relationship is complicated and their encounters are always fateful. For both. This book is an interesting documentary tracking of a gay American history, but it is not about history, the history here is just a background of Roger’s and Alistair’s lives. Like People in History is in the first place an excellent written and deeply touching tale about friendship, relationships, bonds, betrayals, commitments, obligations, sex and LOVE. Love that we can probably experience only once in our life. If at all. Despite of dramatic events, this book is not depressing, it made me laugh and cry and laugh and cry again. The writing style is wonderfully flowing. The author has found a very entertaining way to interwove the past events with the present days. Felice Picano wrote an outstanding novel in amazingly intense, emotional and incredibly beautiful way. I could not put it down. I.LOVE EVERYTHING. I listened to an audio book, then I read what I had listened to and vice versa. I can’t remember when I did something like this before. I became addictive with Roger's story. IF you enjoy and appreciate gay fiction, please, read it. I can’t recommend it highly enough. This book is magnificent.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Though published over 10 years ago, Like People In History is one of my favorite books by Felice Picano; I've read the book three times now during that time. The friendship, deep bond and admiration Roger and Alistair have for each other friendship is palbable. I'm sure many boys will be reminded of similar friends they grew up with, some harboring secret crushes. At times funny, sexy, tragic and sad, Like People In History is a must-read for any gay man and those looking for a story that define Though published over 10 years ago, Like People In History is one of my favorite books by Felice Picano; I've read the book three times now during that time. The friendship, deep bond and admiration Roger and Alistair have for each other friendship is palbable. I'm sure many boys will be reminded of similar friends they grew up with, some harboring secret crushes. At times funny, sexy, tragic and sad, Like People In History is a must-read for any gay man and those looking for a story that defines the close relationship of best friends better than most.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Alona

    Wow! I loved it so much! It was not love at first sight I must say, it took me a while to get into it and invest my feelings, but once there, at around 30%, it was impossible to put down and I just dove into this epic story. And, like in any epic story, it is full of love, hurt, sadness and beauty. Especially intense during some parts of the story, considering it is a gay man’s life story starting in the 20 century’s 50’s-90’s, including the HIV/AIDS horrors of the 80’s. ***This book reminded me of Wow! I loved it so much! It was not love at first sight I must say, it took me a while to get into it and invest my feelings, but once there, at around 30%, it was impossible to put down and I just dove into this epic story. And, like in any epic story, it is full of love, hurt, sadness and beauty. Especially intense during some parts of the story, considering it is a gay man’s life story starting in the 20 century’s 50’s-90’s, including the HIV/AIDS horrors of the 80’s. ***This book reminded me of another book (or maybe books) that I read, but I can’t put my finger at which one/s it was. Maybe someone who read it might help... (Lena?) Thank you Lena for another brilliant recommendation ❤️

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jean Marie Angelo

    I was pulled in at the opening and I cried at the ending. My issue is with everything in between. The author has some wondeful passages, but then hits on spots that could have used better editing. He builds a great duality with two cousins — each gay — who live though four decades of coming out, competing with each other, and ultimately caring for each other. Problem is, the writing is uneven and, at times, sexist and racist. There are comments and actions that sometimes don't fit with the chara I was pulled in at the opening and I cried at the ending. My issue is with everything in between. The author has some wondeful passages, but then hits on spots that could have used better editing. He builds a great duality with two cousins — each gay — who live though four decades of coming out, competing with each other, and ultimately caring for each other. Problem is, the writing is uneven and, at times, sexist and racist. There are comments and actions that sometimes don't fit with the characters he has created. Too, this mostly is the story of priviledged, wealthy, well-educated, thin, attrative, white, gay guys. They just happened to have the money to live in all the upper crust gay communities of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Would it were we could all have roamed so leisurely from Chelsea, San Francisco, Fire Island, and Manhattan, during these years, mingling with all the right people and not worrying about how to pay the bills.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katerina

    I found this book in Lena's shelf and I was curious about it. It's really hard for me to rate this book. It was a love-hate relationship, that's for sure. And first and foremost because of Alistair. A man who thinks of himself in the first place. A person who does what he likes and also takes what he likes - and even if it's the lover of another man. On the other hand .... if you think less about what others think about you, it lives quite comfortably. They all lived short but intense. Not the wors I found this book in Lena's shelf and I was curious about it. It's really hard for me to rate this book. It was a love-hate relationship, that's for sure. And first and foremost because of Alistair. A man who thinks of himself in the first place. A person who does what he likes and also takes what he likes - and even if it's the lover of another man. On the other hand .... if you think less about what others think about you, it lives quite comfortably. They all lived short but intense. Not the worst way to go. Thoughts that are not foreign to me. Philosophical. I like to think about it for a while.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Taylor

    The cover blurb describes how each of the two main characters – Roger Sansarc, and his second cousin, Alistair Dodge – discover their own "unique - and uniquely gay - identity". Through the process of following the relationship of these characters across four decades, it has helped me dust off the glitter on the faded red sequined hot pants of my own gay identity. The two first meet as nine-year-old boys and Alistair seems to have everything that the "ordinary" Rog could want. Alistair is a manip The cover blurb describes how each of the two main characters – Roger Sansarc, and his second cousin, Alistair Dodge – discover their own "unique - and uniquely gay - identity". Through the process of following the relationship of these characters across four decades, it has helped me dust off the glitter on the faded red sequined hot pants of my own gay identity. The two first meet as nine-year-old boys and Alistair seems to have everything that the "ordinary" Rog could want. Alistair is a manipulative schemer and yet each time they meet, it is Alistair who covets the life and chattel of Roger's. The book falls neatly alongside the great gay writers Paul Monette and Edmund White, and something of Patricia Nell Warren. Before reading it, I'd let my once proud gay identity fall aside and instead I'd become a chameleon, shifting my identity to suit my circumstances – who I was with and what they expected from me – making me friends with everybody but intimate with none. Through the tears of the last chapter, my pride in myself - who I am, my appearance, my writing, my work ethic - have all been reignited. It takes a skilled writer to produce a book that produces this kind of change.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Robert

    I found Like People in History a wildly uneven book, veering as it did from a mildly trashy “beach read” to a more serious attempt at gay literary fiction, with neither part being convincing or very good. The story begins in the 50’s, threading throughout its narrative the Vietnam War, Stonewall, the wild post-liberation 70’s scene of Fire Island et al, the devastation of AIDS in the 80’s, and ending in the early 90’s while the crisis was still raging. Picano centers the story on two cousins, th I found Like People in History a wildly uneven book, veering as it did from a mildly trashy “beach read” to a more serious attempt at gay literary fiction, with neither part being convincing or very good. The story begins in the 50’s, threading throughout its narrative the Vietnam War, Stonewall, the wild post-liberation 70’s scene of Fire Island et al, the devastation of AIDS in the 80’s, and ending in the early 90’s while the crisis was still raging. Picano centers the story on two cousins, the flamboyant, pretentious & ruthless Alistair, and Roger, his more straight-laced relative, who narrates. A major problem is that Alistair comes across as a runaway from campy old television shows like Dynasty and Dallas and Roger is an exceptionally unsympathetic, thick-headed, annoying hero. The third major character, Michael (who is naturally as unbelievably, breathtakingly handsome as love interests in these sorts of books always are) might well have been a more compelling character to center upon but remained rather shallowly presented. Some seriously bad dialogue didn’t help matters, nor did the book’s over-generous length. Despite my bitching, there were moments when Picano’s sincere attempt to write an elegiac history of modern gay life shines through, with some passages of genuine lyricism. I think the author knew the book he wanted to write but wasn’t quite sure in the end which way to tell it. A disappointment.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alvaro Pérez

    Insufferable. If you have the patience to have a name-dropping narcissist tell you his life story with excruciating self-aggrandizing minutiae you might enjoy this book. If you enjoy esoteric descriptions of random things irrelevant to the plot you might enjoy this book. Gave me headache from rolling my eyes. An example of the ridiculous writing: "His facial features so perfectly Mayan he might have been any of a hundred sacrificial victims pictogramed on ruined temples vine-encrusted for centur Insufferable. If you have the patience to have a name-dropping narcissist tell you his life story with excruciating self-aggrandizing minutiae you might enjoy this book. If you enjoy esoteric descriptions of random things irrelevant to the plot you might enjoy this book. Gave me headache from rolling my eyes. An example of the ridiculous writing: "His facial features so perfectly Mayan he might have been any of a hundred sacrificial victims pictogramed on ruined temples vine-encrusted for centuries within the miasmas of the Yucatan"

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This is a memoir starting with main characters Rog and Alastair, cousins, as preteens in the 50s, through the craziness of the '60s—Viet Nam, even Woodstock, then the wide-open sexuality and liberation of the 70's and the loses and fear from the AIDS crises of the 80's. and early 90's. If you lived through these years, as I did, you will likely be moved by the memories. I wonder what happened to Roger (and Wally) beyond the tellings of the novel. The main characters are complex and developed to This is a memoir starting with main characters Rog and Alastair, cousins, as preteens in the 50s, through the craziness of the '60s—Viet Nam, even Woodstock, then the wide-open sexuality and liberation of the 70's and the loses and fear from the AIDS crises of the 80's. and early 90's. If you lived through these years, as I did, you will likely be moved by the memories. I wonder what happened to Roger (and Wally) beyond the tellings of the novel. The main characters are complex and developed to the point of becoming friends with minor characters easily recognized. You have met these stereotypes. The story, Rod's life, is interesting and well told with a good bit of humor as well as drama. Picano's prose flows, is an easy read if you know the slang of the various periods, types and classes. For me this is an amazing book. The protagonist, Rog, was born the same year as I and we followed similar courses till about 1970. My life became mundane, married, kids, house... Rog became a player in the LGBT world, certainly influenced by his wealthy cousin Alistair who introduced him to powerful people as well as his own leanings and personality. I could have had that kind of life; I knew what I needed to do and had ins to those I could climb. I played with it a bit, but chose a peaceful, private life in the woods with a 38 year 'marriage' with Christopher. I'm satisfied. So was Roger. And I learned a great new word: Reify - to make an abstraction real, physical, touchable... 9 of 10 stars

  10. 5 out of 5

    KatieMc

    I love an epic family saga, even when family doesn't fit the nuclear husband/wife/2.4 child mold. In this official family ties were mostly limited to 2nd cousins, but sometimes it's the family you make that's most important. That is especially true for the gay community going through the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s. I'm not especially fond of the title of this book as it seems to misdirect your attention to the notorious in history. I'm not in charge of book titles, so this will remain as I love an epic family saga, even when family doesn't fit the nuclear husband/wife/2.4 child mold. In this official family ties were mostly limited to 2nd cousins, but sometimes it's the family you make that's most important. That is especially true for the gay community going through the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and 90s. I'm not especially fond of the title of this book as it seems to misdirect your attention to the notorious in history. I'm not in charge of book titles, so this will remain as-is. If you want rich characters, a strong sense of history and a story line that is well constructed and poetic in its craft, this is a highly recommended read/listen. Many thanks to my reading patronis Lena for another great recommendation. 2017 reading challenge checks the box for 33. A book set in two different time periods . Well more than 2, but mostly 2.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Adam O'Leary

    Predictable high camp with clumsy prose and an irritating fascination with name-dropping luxury goods and brands, but incorporating a broad sweep of 20th century gay history and some touching scenes of how HIV/AIDS affected the gay community.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    This is one of the best gay novels ever written!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dennis Holland

    Epic and grand. A chronicle of gay life and history spanning monumental decades of change and movement. It centers on two cousins whose lives and lovers intersect—influencing and shaping one another’s evolution and identity. Occasionally, I was reminded of the Zelig character and his amusing ability to appear inconspicuously in all sorts of situations. More often I was reminded of all the stories of a generation lost.

  14. 4 out of 5

    josquin

    I stopped reading this book on page 457 (or was it 447?) due to a lack of interest. That said, I don't regret reading the previous 456 (446) pages. It was a good book, as books go, and an ambitious one. But a problem with the sweeping novel can be sweeping the characters away, which is what happened hear. There are elements of a character study, but no character, and alas!, is probed. There's action! But the action is sporadic and, if anyone's read E.M. Forester's Aspects of the Novel, amounts t I stopped reading this book on page 457 (or was it 447?) due to a lack of interest. That said, I don't regret reading the previous 456 (446) pages. It was a good book, as books go, and an ambitious one. But a problem with the sweeping novel can be sweeping the characters away, which is what happened hear. There are elements of a character study, but no character, and alas!, is probed. There's action! But the action is sporadic and, if anyone's read E.M. Forester's Aspects of the Novel, amounts to the difference between story and plot. Story being, "What happens next!?" and plot being, "So that's how it happens." Roughly. There are attempts at a craftsmanship that would elevate the events of the narrative above only succession, and the novel is structured, but indifferently so. But, despite characters who were failed and an only passable logic to it, it was a good book most of the way through, largely due to value as a collection of, at very least, always interesting descriptions of gay life on either coast, from the 50s through the 90s. Mostly always interesting. The dialogue can be inscrutable.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jesi

    While this book would've really benefited from a good editor, it was still a pretty enjoyable read. A big, sprawling, campy retelling of American history from the early 1960s through the 1980s from the perspective of a young gay writer. I'd recommend it less for its craft and more as an archive of (mostly white, mostly male) gay social life. The frame narrative is confusing and unnecessary, but the lengthy flashback sections give a great sense of the vibrancy of gay society in New York, especial While this book would've really benefited from a good editor, it was still a pretty enjoyable read. A big, sprawling, campy retelling of American history from the early 1960s through the 1980s from the perspective of a young gay writer. I'd recommend it less for its craft and more as an archive of (mostly white, mostly male) gay social life. The frame narrative is confusing and unnecessary, but the lengthy flashback sections give a great sense of the vibrancy of gay society in New York, especially in the 70s. The ending didn't leave me feeling gutted like novels about AIDS usually do, but it did convey something of the enormity of losing an entire generation over the course of a decade. I also think "Like People in History" is just a beautiful way of describing the book's project (which would have surely been much more radical at the time of publication): telling the story of a lost generation *as* history, rather than simply as a gap in the record.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Michael Reed

    This book is about the late '70s early '80s when HIV/AIDS began to destroy much of a whole generation of us. It was described as the Gay Gone With The Wind. That, however, is a big challenge which I think it fell far short of. But, it doesn't have to be GWTW to be good. I enjoyed the first 2/3rds or so until everyone was doing everyone else on Fire Island including the protagonist...relationships notwithstanding. Having never desired anything but monogamy during my few romantic involvements and pe This book is about the late '70s early '80s when HIV/AIDS began to destroy much of a whole generation of us. It was described as the Gay Gone With The Wind. That, however, is a big challenge which I think it fell far short of. But, it doesn't have to be GWTW to be good. I enjoyed the first 2/3rds or so until everyone was doing everyone else on Fire Island including the protagonist...relationships notwithstanding. Having never desired anything but monogamy during my few romantic involvements and perhaps being something of a prude in this regard, I began to feel distain for the whole bunch and decided I might have been wasting my time. However, close to the end, Picano redeems the book in an incredible, unbelievably moving way...and then includes a couple of added pleasant eventualities.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Derek Gover

    Another gay history published as fiction but covering a significant period of US Gay history. This book follows the lives of two cousins and the people they meet during their lives. It covers the period from their childhood in the early 50s through the stonewall era and the onset of AIDS and deals with the love/hate relationship of the two vastly different main characters..Again a book worth reading because it is good fiction but also because of its insight into the era

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carlos Mock

    Like People in History by Felice Picano I just finished reading Felice Picano's Like People in history for the fifth time and I'm happy to report the book withstands the passage of time. i found it as relevant today as when I first read it in the late 90's. The book takes place in 1991, when Roger Sansarc and his current HIV positive lover and ACT UP activist Wally are on the way to a demonstration at Gracie Mansion. On their way, the duo makes a detour to Rogers's dying cousin, Alistair Dodge, t Like People in History by Felice Picano I just finished reading Felice Picano's Like People in history for the fifth time and I'm happy to report the book withstands the passage of time. i found it as relevant today as when I first read it in the late 90's. The book takes place in 1991, when Roger Sansarc and his current HIV positive lover and ACT UP activist Wally are on the way to a demonstration at Gracie Mansion. On their way, the duo makes a detour to Rogers's dying cousin, Alistair Dodge, to deliver 60 Tuinals so Alistair can kill himself. Wally and Roger argue as to the merits of ending the life of a dying AIDS patient, so Roger recounts his anecdotes of his relationship with Alistair. The book is divided into five sections, each one starts with the present and then goes back to 1954, 1961, 1969, 1974, and 1985. In each section we not only get a pertinent piece of the relationship between Roger and Alistair, but also the history of the GLBT community at the time. Narrated beautifully from Roger's first person point of view, we meet the cousins in 1954, as Alistair's parents are getting a divorce. It is clear from the beginning that Alistair is a charismatic flamboyant person who easily takes over Roger's world and teaches his cousin a thing or two about how things work: "Well, just remember this, Cuz. Schmucks like that will come and go in your life. They don't mean a thing. I'm the one who counts. I'm the one you're going to have to face and deal with. Because I'm the one who's going to be around for a long, long time." In 1961, we deal with Roger's trip to visit his cousin in Los Angeles and Roger's dealings with his sexuality. The big theme of the 60's was coming out. In 1974, we deal with Roger's trip to Provincetown and his stent at the Pozzuoli bookstore. After reading nights at Rizzoli, Mr. Picano's newest non-fiction novel, it's easy to see where he got the material. Here is when Roger falls in love with Matt Loguidice, his first true love. In 1979, the action shifts to Fire Island, The Pines and Roger's relationship with Matt Loguidice develops into an open relationship and the book ends with Alistair stealing Matt away from Roger. "What if Stonewall hadn't happened? Would we all be zipping around and hiding like those poor fifties queens? Daring our jobs, our lives, to be ourselves, to even protest?" "We've been the first generation of gays to force ourselves or to be forced out of the closet. We had to experience the traumas of coming out, and making the gay movement happen, not to mention the more general trauma of getting through the roller coaster of the late sixties...." In 1984, Roger finds out Matt is sick, and both he and Alistair help Matt cope with his AIDS disease and gently help him die - which brings us back to 1991 and Wally and Roger helping Alistair die. "Golden lads, that's what Haussman called the huge promising generation of young Brits mowed down in the First World War." "Nature is usually so tightfisted with what it provides. So very prudent how it husbands its resources. Why would Nature go to the trouble to create so much luxuriance in what after all was a group of nonreproductive creatures? Why create such an extraordinary generation of beautiful, talented, quickly intelligent men, and then why let them all die so rapidly, one after the other?" Knowing Felice, the book deals a lot with his Survivor's remorse: "My doom was of another kind. Perhaps survival was to be my doom." "Who's left? How few of us? Why bother to leave any of us? Why not just wipe the slate clean and admit it was a mistake?" To answer Felice and my own survival's remorse, we're hear to remind everyone of what can happen if we don't keep watch. We're here to remind the young homosexuals who are working so hard on their wedding plans that a lot went on so that they could be accepted by society. Lots of lives were lost and lots of hard work occurred so that they can have a normal life. i just hope people continue to read this novel so that we don't forget....

  19. 5 out of 5

    KC Smelser

    While some of the writing was rather saccharine (especially dialogue) the plotting and character development were the strengths of this tale. Somehow you pass through 40+ fascinating years of personal and overall LGBT history, interspersed with an equally interesting 12 hours or so of the "present." The interesting thing about this novel (aside from Alistair, one of the most interesting and frustrating characters I've ever encountered) is how the past and the present interact throughout the nove While some of the writing was rather saccharine (especially dialogue) the plotting and character development were the strengths of this tale. Somehow you pass through 40+ fascinating years of personal and overall LGBT history, interspersed with an equally interesting 12 hours or so of the "present." The interesting thing about this novel (aside from Alistair, one of the most interesting and frustrating characters I've ever encountered) is how the past and the present interact throughout the novel. A few transitions seemed unnatural or forced, but overall the play back and forth is fascinating, especially towards the end. Perhaps it felt a little too rigid with the flashbacks in chronological order, yet I still had no way to predict where the plot was headed and was consistently surprised even though I realized half-way through that I had read this before. In the end though, all the parts and pieces really click into place and I found myself wishing I could continue with Roger as he continues to move through life.

  20. 4 out of 5

    E.

    An epic story of gay life spanning the late twentieth century from a childhood in the 50's to the days of AIDS activism in the early 1990's. An early chapter left me wanting to be an adolescent in Southern California in the early 60's, though that would make one the right age for Vietnam and the full onslaught of AIDS. Along the way the novel touches on San Francisco opera queens, the glory days of disco on Fire Island, New York bathhouses, and hospital rooms with dying loved ones. While some pa An epic story of gay life spanning the late twentieth century from a childhood in the 50's to the days of AIDS activism in the early 1990's. An early chapter left me wanting to be an adolescent in Southern California in the early 60's, though that would make one the right age for Vietnam and the full onslaught of AIDS. Along the way the novel touches on San Francisco opera queens, the glory days of disco on Fire Island, New York bathhouses, and hospital rooms with dying loved ones. While some parts of the story made me want to be part of it, others clearly did not. The novel focuses on Roger Sansarc and his cousin Alistair Dodge as their lives intersect through all those periods, events, and phases, as they acquire and lose lovers, friends, and jobs. Picano tells a good story and writes well, though some paragraphs I thought were a little over-written (I did actually have to look up a few words). The final pages are beautifully, powerfully written and left me stunned.

  21. 5 out of 5

    James Pullman

    I read this book a good five or so years ago. I bought it, then didn't read it for a while, read the first half... didn't read it for a while... then picked it up again and read it in five days flat. I have to say it was one of my favorite books at the time, and I still hold it in high regard. I read this book a good five or so years ago. I bought it, then didn't read it for a while, read the first half... didn't read it for a while... then picked it up again and read it in five days flat. I have to say it was one of my favorite books at the time, and I still hold it in high regard.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chris Hooper

    If you were too young to live it, read it. An amazing book

  23. 5 out of 5

    Oscarescamez

    Disappointing. Read years back and, tough enjoyable at times, I found it totally over-rated

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tim Power

    Wow. Didn’t want this one to end.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matty Lapointe-Smith

    An interesting and compelling telling of the Gay American experience in the second half of the 20th Century up to 1995. Which is a hell of a place to stop but that's when the book was published. Making for a very difficult and poignant ending reminiscent of the final monologue from Angels in America which came out during the same time period. Initially I struggled a bit with the writing itself. This is my first book by Felice Picano and it seems there's just something about the way he strings wor An interesting and compelling telling of the Gay American experience in the second half of the 20th Century up to 1995. Which is a hell of a place to stop but that's when the book was published. Making for a very difficult and poignant ending reminiscent of the final monologue from Angels in America which came out during the same time period. Initially I struggled a bit with the writing itself. This is my first book by Felice Picano and it seems there's just something about the way he strings words and concepts together that don't flow naturally in my brain as I read. I have a similar issue with the author of "Wicked" and other different-takes-on-famous-fairy-tales Gregory Maguire. Who is also gay. Is it just how we write? Lord knows I could be accused of using 3 sentences when 1 will do. Especially if I don't edit down. Anyway, Picano's narrator, Roger Sansarc is a gay intellectual in the '60s and '70s which means his banter and observations are peppered with references to Opera and Hollywood Golden Age Divas some of which feel like they may have been a deep dive even in 1995 but which are at points almost inscrutable reading the book 25 years later. There's also the very Brian and Michael relationship Roger has with his also gay cousin Alistair as they revolve around each other's orbits over 40 years. It wasn't something I really liked in Queer as Folk and something I struggled with at first in this book. But the concept of the slightly more down to earth, not quite as gorgeous gay man trailing behind his beautiful, confident and outgoing jerky non-romantic love of his life is a trope of queer media for a reason. And Picano does level the playing field as the story goes by when you realize just how much of a mess Alistair can be just below the surface. The story has a vaguely Forrest Gumpy quality, especially at first as Roger finds himself randomly at Woodstock, then in front of the Vietnam draft board and then in the queer hotspots of San Francisco, Provincetown and Manhattan over the years. Part of that is just the nature of telling someone's epic story over that time period. That's what America was for people of a certain age during those years. Roger's careers seem to just kind of fall into his lap and I think part of that comes from the autobiographic nature of the book. I also think that's partially a tonal choice that just took a minute to roll with as a reader. To a certain extent Roger is the stand in for all gay male Americans and in the 50s and 60s he's adrift, unsure, living in the shadows doing his best to work with what he's got. Post-Stonewall he's out there living his best life with his fellow queens all damaged by their own queer history but strong enough to be themselves. And then AIDS hits. And it's a horror show. I'm lucky enough to have the life I lead because of people like Roger and Alistair (or I suppose more accurately Felice Picano who was writing for and about the gay community since the '70s). I know all of these characters, even if their occasional detours in Boys in the Band bitchiness does seem a little dated. The power of just being yourself out in the world is almost impossible to calculate. This isn't a perfect book but it's an important book. You fall in love with the characters and their strengths as well as their failings. It feels like a 100% accurate peek into a real slice of life of a world that's disappeared. Not just because of the passage of time but the holocaust that destroyed the gay community in the '80s and early '90s. The characters in this book would be in their 70s by now. But the odds of finding a 70 year old gay man who was out and engaged in the community during all this are pitifully slim. Something Picano (who IS still alive and living in West Hollywood) Roger beautifully summed in 1991 as he and his partner go to confront whether Alistair has downed a bottle of pills rather than continue to suffer through his body tearing itself apart. "...it's been, you know, a while since I've thought of so many of the people from the Island, from the late seventies...I still can't believe that I'll never see them again. I keep expecting to turn a corner and have Ray Ford grab me from behind and spin me around and bear-hug me till my ribs threaten to crack, and I never go to any gathering without expecting to see Dick Dunne or George Stavrinos or Vito... I don't get it! Nature is usually so tightfisted with what it provides. So very prudent how it husbands its resources. Why would Nature go to the trouble to create so much luxuriance in what after all was a group of nonreproductive creatures? Why create such an extraordinary generation of beautiful, talented, quirkily intelligent men, and then why let them all die so rapidly, one after the other? It doesn't make the least bit of sense. It's not natural. It's not the way Nature behaves. It's certainly not comprehensible in a society filled with such mediocrity...What made my group stand apart was not only our attractiveness, our social cohesion, but that by the time we appeared at the Pines in 1975 or so, we were already achieved individuals, architects and composers, authors and designers, illustrators and filmmakers, choreographers and playwrights and directors and set designers and... Not perfect, God knows, not anything like perfect! Troubled. Hassled certainly. And why not? We'd been the first generation of gays to force ourselves or to be forced out of the closet. We had to experience the traumas of coming out, and of making the gay movement happen, not to mention the more general trauma of just getting through the roller coaster of the late sixties...But despite that, we were almost godlike in our creative power. Face it, we pretty much created the seventies! Its music, its way of socializing, its sexual behavior, its clubs, clothing, its entire sense of style and design, its resorts, its celebrities, its language! We were always creating, always doing something! To what end?...It seems such an astonishing waste! And worse, it seems to never end. Tonight it's Alistair. Tomorrow it'll be...Who's left? How few of us? Why bother to leave any of us? Why not just wipe the slate clean and admit it was a mistake? A mistake to have striven for once to create something so...I don't know, creative and individual and wonderful, really. Perfect for everything but reproduction."

  26. 5 out of 5

    William Stafford

    A sweeping story that moves to and fro in time, taking in huge swathes of gay history in the United States, up to and including the AIDS epidemic. It's the story of our narrator, Roger and his cousin Alistair, charting their reversals of fortune against a backdrop of social history. It's also funny. Other sagas have covered the same ground, but Picano's writing is piquant enough to make this feel like a fresh look at a well-trodden path. You find yourself caring for the characters - it's a bit l A sweeping story that moves to and fro in time, taking in huge swathes of gay history in the United States, up to and including the AIDS epidemic. It's the story of our narrator, Roger and his cousin Alistair, charting their reversals of fortune against a backdrop of social history. It's also funny. Other sagas have covered the same ground, but Picano's writing is piquant enough to make this feel like a fresh look at a well-trodden path. You find yourself caring for the characters - it's a bit like the US Queer As Folk in that respect (although this book predates the TV series) I shall definitely look up more of this writer's work.

  27. 4 out of 5

    ida

    Rating this book is difficult, but I'll give it three starts pretty much just because this book is very uneven. Some part were very good (basically everything before 1969, 1985 and present day/1991) while I found the other parts a little boring at times. I loved the width of this book, and how it managed to include lots of America's gay history. I teared up at the end of the book and even though I hated Alistair for most of the book, I almost cheered out loud when he did the right thing (for onc Rating this book is difficult, but I'll give it three starts pretty much just because this book is very uneven. Some part were very good (basically everything before 1969, 1985 and present day/1991) while I found the other parts a little boring at times. I loved the width of this book, and how it managed to include lots of America's gay history. I teared up at the end of the book and even though I hated Alistair for most of the book, I almost cheered out loud when he did the right thing (for once in his life).

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    A totally enjoyable albeit somewhat long book. I'm just half through it. The only part of the book that I have found uninteresting was in Book Four Chain of Fools when 2 of the characters who are both opera queens have lengthy conversations about works of opera. I'm sure if I were an opera aficionado I would have delighted in this as well. I simply skimmed through most of their conversations since it was so out of my league. A totally enjoyable albeit somewhat long book. I'm just half through it. The only part of the book that I have found uninteresting was in Book Four Chain of Fools when 2 of the characters who are both opera queens have lengthy conversations about works of opera. I'm sure if I were an opera aficionado I would have delighted in this as well. I simply skimmed through most of their conversations since it was so out of my league.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Sean E.D. Kerr

    I haven't been this captivated by a story in a long time. I was totally drawn in and emotionally involved with the characters so much that I basically did nothing for three days but read. This was the first time I read a book about a gay theme and gay characters, and I am very pleased with the experience. I will be looking into more by this author for sure and recommend this to anyone who likes a good lifelong story/saga type. I haven't been this captivated by a story in a long time. I was totally drawn in and emotionally involved with the characters so much that I basically did nothing for three days but read. This was the first time I read a book about a gay theme and gay characters, and I am very pleased with the experience. I will be looking into more by this author for sure and recommend this to anyone who likes a good lifelong story/saga type.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rory

    This is the ONLY book if one wants to learn about the arc of the mordern gay exepierence. It is the fictional account of two cousins both gay and from the 50s--90s in every different way and place. The gay 'Gone With the Wind'. This is the ONLY book if one wants to learn about the arc of the mordern gay exepierence. It is the fictional account of two cousins both gay and from the 50s--90s in every different way and place. The gay 'Gone With the Wind'.

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