American Studies

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Penguin Books, 1995 - Fiction - 288 pages
2 Reviews
Reeve thinks his life is over: his career is at a dead end, his face is a mess, and his landlord is evicting him from his apartment because he made too much noise when a hustler beat him up. As he lies in his hospital bed, trying to figure out what to do next, he finds himself brooding about the parallel ruin of his comrade and mentor Tom Slater, a famous American literary scholar who dabbled in communism and was driven to suicide during the McCarthy era. And there is the further distraction of the patient in the next bed, a silent youth who arouses feelings Reeve has vowed not to have any more, the dangerous longing for the sweetness and menace of straight men. Never at a loss for the telling detail or bitchy aside, Reeve offers a sweeping view of gay life in this century as he reconstructs the troubled world of Tom Slater (a figure inspired by the critic F. O. Matthiessen) and recalls his own insouciant youth and horny old age. Dark humor and decadent prose infuse this story of desire, betrayal, and healing.

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User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

This ambitious and intelligent first novel by a D.C.-based gay writer focuses on the bad old days before Stonewall and one victim of the dual McCarthyisms of red-hunting and gay-baiting. Merlis has ... Read full review

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User Review  - GayCityLGBTLibrary - LibraryThing

Gay City Staff Pick: Both moving and funny, American Studies captures the spirit of struggle and triumph in 20th century gay America. Read full review


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About the author (1995)

Mark Merlis grew up in Baltimore and attended Wesleyan and Brown Universities. He now lives in New Hope, Pennsylvania.

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