Dancer from the Dance, his first novel, was published in 1978. Its narrative takes place among the discotheques of New York City and Fire Island, although it is Fire Island, with its literal distance from the mainland, that provides a pivotal backdrop for the novel. Dancer from the Dance shares many of its locales, as well as its themes, with Faggots, Larry Kramer's novel, published in the same year.
Holleran's second novel was Nights in Aruba, and his third is titled The Beauty of Men. The Beauty of Men takes place in central Florida where the main character, a 47-year-old gay man, has gone to take care of his quadriplegic mother. Holleran's Grief: a Novel received the 2007 Stonewall Book Award.
Holleran teaches creative writing at American University in Washington, DC, and he continues to edit gay short story collections like Fresh Men: New Voices in Gay Fiction and frequently publishes articles in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide
He graduated from Harvard College in 1965.
Once upon a time, I didn’t know there was a genre called gay literature. Not being gay myself, perhaps this is understandable—but not forgivable. When I discovered this rich world, the first book I read was Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran. It’s not likely that anyone reading these summaries hasn’t read this book, so I’ll just offer the ways in which it affected me rather than try to describe the book itself. The Stonewall riots weren’t even a decade behind the timeframe of this story, and in the eyes of someone outside the gay community, this book depicts how people who had been cruelly restrained by persecution and societal shame began to express themselves explosively and unabashedly, even as they carried their past shame with them. Certainly, the main character, Malone, seems to struggle to express his true nature while wallowing in shame that was forced on him from external sources, and he carries both to extremes. This book, along with the next books I read from this genre (by authors such as Edmund White and John Rechy), are the reason I didn’t go to see Brokeback Mountain. By the time that film came out, not only did I not need to be told what happens when people are forced to live lives that are against their natures, but also I was chomping at the bit for stories in which gay people had promising futures, stories in which their fortunes were not dictated by their sexual orientation alone, but by the entirety of who they are as people. And these are the stories I write. So to Holleran’s classic I owe the impetus for my own work in a genre I didn’t even know about before I read this book. --Robin Reardon
With full knowledge of the horror of AIDS that followed in the 1980s, I still have fantasies about gay life in the 70s. I blame Andrew Holleran. His Dancer From The Dance is just too damn visceral, memorable, and detailed. Reading it is a multimedia experiences. I can hear the music on the dance floor and smell the sweat of men. The book is terribly sad, yet inspiring, an ecstatic reverie about a city I love and gay families, real and imagined. To this day, I can’t drive through Sayville (to a very different Fire Island than the one in this book) without hearing Holleran’s voice. His story has become part of my life, and that’s pretty cool. --Aaron Krach
Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran about gay culture and strata in the big city was not only highly entertaining for me, but also highly instructional! A primer on how gay society was/is structured, about out own little demimonde, our focus on youth and its rules and expectations. As a young gay man in the Midwest, it presented life on the coasts as seductive and at the same time dangerous. One wanted to be a part of it, one wanted to be his hot hero Malone, yet only if it were going to be the good parts, hopefully those involving good sex and good drugs and some kind of painting you could put in your closet. Of course, in real life, you have to take the good with the bad, which is exactly what happens to Holleran’s characters in the book. --Jim Arnold
The Beauty of Men by Andrew Holleran: In which Lark becomes obsessed with Becker, and spends too much time at the lake waiting for cock; Becker’s in particular. And in which Lark makes daily visits to his paralysed mother, and remembers friends who have died of AIDS. I have always read Andrew Holleran’s The Beauty of Men as a cautionary tale. It is a story about what could happen if you left the city and went back to living in a small town. The Beauty of Men is a story of obsession, of aging without grace. But, my God, it is beautifully told. There is not a single writer in the whole of gaydom who writes, and has always written as exquisitely as Andrew Holleran. The honesty of his prose lifts every sentence into the lyric register and brings humour to the page the way only a person who has survived so much death can do. --Shaun Levin
Like many others, I find Andrew's “Dancer from the Dance” a doozy of a book. His ear for dialogue matches Jimmy McCourt's in my humble estimation. However, The Beauty of Men touches upon the same themes of aging, loneliness, and death that make “Time Remainin”g so precious to me as I enter more deeply into my Golden Years. (I call myself an elderly gentleman these days, too.) Andrew's Mr. Lark--and this is indeed a song of a lark--is "needy" to the point of madness. We leave him sitting alone in a car with newly tinted windows hoping to get a glance of a handsome security guard at a boat ramp. It's come to that after a not-so-long (he's only nearing fifty, for God's sake!), yet unfulfilling life. This is a truly audacious book. It dares to go where no other gay writer has ever gone in the way it confronts the loss of youth both in the mirror and in the bed in our youth-obsessed culture. It distresses me that so many find Mr. Lark "depressing" instead of seeing his last moments with us as an act of hope, an act of spiritual redemption finding joy in the beauty of men. And I seem to have come full circle here with Andrew's Proustian concern with Time, for as Beckett (again) says: "Proust's characters, then, are victims of this predominating condition and circumstance--Time...." --Vincent Virga
Many of the essays in Chronicle of a Plague, Revisited: AIDS and Its Aftermath by Andrew Holleran first appeared in the 1980s in “Christopher Street” magazine, the gay literary equivalent of “The New Yorker”, and were first collected in the Holleran’s book “Ground Zero”, published in 1988. The impact of these essays on both my writing and my personal life cannot be overlooked. Holleran wrote of visits to hospitals to see sick friends, attending funerals, memorials, and wakes, and discovering his present-day life as a sequence of memories. Holleran captured best what many other gay writers seemed to ignore or avoid when writing about the plague (if they wrote about it at all) — the fear and the denial of the times. He also depicted a gay metropolis at change: unruly, nervous, frightened, suspicious, and angry. Still, what rose to the surface of those grim, beautifully-executed essays was his firm portrayal of gay men and their friendships and how important they were to each other in the course of these trying and uncertain times. Also recommended: “In September, the Light Changes”, Holleran’s short story collection, and “Grief”, his most recent novel. --Jameson Currier
I know. I know. Holleran’s first novel, Dancer From the Dance makes all the lists of best of. But it’s this second, Nights in Aruba, more relaxed, more mature, bildungsroman that takes the prize for me. It’s about a young gay man in the U.S. Army in Europe when there’s no war to be fought except the usual internal ones, and those eternal ones with “society” -- in this case in the form of several astonishing queens! --Felice Picano
Andrew Holleran (Eric Garber), 1985, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1081959)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digital
Grief by Andrew Holleran
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Hyperion (June 5, 2007)
Now in paperback, the universally acclaimed novel about loss and yearning
Reeling from the recent death of his invalid mother, an exhausted, lonely professor comes to our nation's capital to escape his previous life. What he finds there--in his handsome, solitary landlord; in the city's somber mood and sepulchral architecture; and in the strange and impassioned journals of Mary Todd Lincoln--shows him unexpected truths about America and loss.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
More Spotlights at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
This journal is friends only. This entry was originally posted at http://reviews-and-ramblings.dreamwidth.org/1401351.html. If you are not friends on this journal, Please comment there using OpenID.