When gay goes gray, an unspectacular homosexual: Holleran’s The Beauty of Men is a stark, powerful, tour de force of a novel—that is not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer not to look life squarely in the eye. Having read this novel several times many years ago, it remains a touchstone for my own writing.
Holleran’s novel offers a rather early challenge to the mainstream perception of the gay male by offering an unflinching consideration of a middle-aged man, who finds himself living amidst the realities and not merely the idealities of a “gay” life. Along the way, the novel explores themes of interest to us all–loss, loneliness, aging, invisibility, isolation, and the question of dreams as directional or delusional. There are also themes ranging from the AIDS era haunting to the question of gay separatism that speak more specifically to a generational gay male experience.
Apparently, the novel is out of print, but there seem to be a handful of used copies available–grab yours today.