Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

Faggots

by Larry Kramer

“Writing as always from an affirmatively homosexual point of view, Kramer in this novel conveys a sense of premonitory unease, even foreboding, about the spread of promiscuity, sadomasochism and narcotics among the homosexual population . . . more graphic than James Baldwin or Hubert Selby.” –Times Literary Supplement

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date June 23, 2000
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3691-6
  • Dimensions +5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00
  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 384
  • Publication Date May 01, 2007
  • ISBN-13 978-1-5558-4667-1
  • US List Price $14.95

About The Book

Graphically sexual and one of the most all-time best-selling gay novels, Faggots is the story of Fred Lemish, who at thirty-nine has built up his body into a fatless state of being in Great Shape. Lemish is ready to find Mr. Right. But from the Everhard Baths to the Pines on Fire Island to that place of myth and story, The Meat Rack, he is looking for his dream lover in all the wrong places. Faggots is a fierce satire of the gay ghetto and a touching story of one man’s desperate search for permanence, commitment, and love.

Tags Gay

Praise

“A Vesuvian explosion about the gay life that spares no one and no thing . . . there is much truth and honesty to be found here.” –Seymour Krim, Chicago Tribune

“True comic brilliance–a vicious Swiftian satire that, like all satire, contains a strong moral voice.” –New York

Faggots, for all its excesses, is frequently right on target and, when it is on target, is appallingly funny.” –Edward Albee

“Larry Kramer has more than come out of the closet, he’s housecleaned the neighborhood. Faggots is a novel of courage . . . a journey worth the chronicle . . . a noble gesture.” –Baltimore Sun

“Larry Kramer is one of America’s most valuable troublemakers. I hope he never lowers his voice.” –Susan Sontag

“The liberation of sexuality from the bonds of moralism has left in its wake a crying need for principled, intelligent, vigorous explorations of how a genuine morality can be introduced to our newly minted freedom.

This exploration is a central part of Kramer’s historically significant literary work, of which Faggots constitutes an important beginning and a key. As a documentation of an era, as savage and savagely funny social parody, as a cry in the wilderness, and as a prescient, accurate reading of the writing on the wall, the novel is peerless and utterly necessary. It is brilliant, bellicose, contemptuous, compassionate and–as is true of everything Kramer writes–behind its delectable, entertaining, sometimes maddening harshness is a profoundly moving plea for justice and for love. There are few books in modern gay fiction, or modern fiction for that matter, that must be read. Faggots is certainly one of them.” –Tony Kushner

‘since his screenplay for D. H. Lawrence’s Women in Love in 1969, Larry Kramer has been a prophet of psychic health and catastrophe among us–a prophet unmatched for the accuracy of his omens and the reliability of his anathemas and remedies. His uncannily foresighted novel Faggots appeared in 1978 just as the AIDS virus flooded whole wings of the American bloodstream; now its Swiftian portrait of an all but vanished subculture stands as that culture’s visible memorial. His later plays have been clear as firebells, memorable as tracer bullets.” –The American Academy of Arts and Letters citation, May 1996

“[Faggots] sends up New York’s self-imposed gay ghetto, doing for its gyms, discos, orgy rooms, army fatigues, mustaches, and advertising agencies what Portnoy’s Complaint did for Mom and masturbation. Faggots is the Uncle Tom’s Cabin for homosexual men whose worst oppression is their lack of courage to change the way they live.” –Library Journal

“A corrosive study of the gay underbelly of New York . . . Faggots has the air of a Restoration comedy in its mix of Baroque style and bawdy, scathing humor.” –Women’s Wear Daily

“A book of major historical importance–the first contemporary novel to chronicle gay life with unsparing honesty and wild humor. Larry Kramer has changed the way we think about gay men. He is one of our great humanists.” –Erica Jong

“Writing as always from an affirmatively homosexual point of view, Kramer in this novel conveys a sense of premonitory unease, even foreboding, about the spread of promiscuity, sadomasochism and narcotics among the homosexual population . . . more graphic than James Baldwin or Hubert Selby.” –Times Literary Supplement

“It would come to resemble her, Picasso said of his Stein portrait–and so with Kramer’s of New York gay life, which I had thought so entertaining, so extravagant, ever so preposterous a lustrum ago. It has come to resemble it, in tragic guise, but with tremendous application to our discordant truth: Faggots is still the mirror we must look into, fun-house or carnal-house–it shows the man.” –Richard Howard

Faggots struck a chord. It exuded a sense that gay men could do better if they understood themselves as fully human, if they could shed their self-loathing and self-deception. . . . I loved it.” –Andrew Sullivan

Excerpt

In a handsome apartment of English and French antiques, deftly combined with American Ward Bennett, on East 66th Street, between Madison and Park, lives the Winston Man. Yes, Virginia, there is a Winston Man.

It is unfortunate that his personality is so submerged in this nefarious product, but the fact remains that to his friends and to his fellow models as the Hans Zoroaster Agency his known, not be his given name, which is Duncan Heinz (his father is a very distant and almost as rich cousin to the pickle-soup-ketchup family, though devoted not to foodstuffs in his own financial empire but to the manufacture of rubber good for home and farm, more specifically, though naturally the family does not spread this about, the production of items of “prophylaxis’ for the conduct of sexual intercourse, their Model B-12 widely used in animal husbandry, particularly suited for well-endowed bulls), but as Winnie.

Winnie’s is the true beauty of our moment in time, the fact that, years from now, when we remember, and we shall remember, will be looked back upon as representing our era. His glacially green eyes, his perfect classical nose, his hay hair, his skin of an overall perfection that could sell cream to cows or butter to Danes, all represent today’s desirability and have served to make him not only America’s highest-paid male model but also the ideal god every faggot looks up to as what he’d choose to look like if he could choose to look like anyone.

Winnie’s Philadelphia Main Line background was evident in the tweed and flannel button-downed and Shetlanded aura he had maintained ever since being expelled from the University of Virginia for disinclination to read. He still looked thirty, claimed to be forty, and still didn’t have to work, his father’s “health products’ fortune more than ample to provide for him But a Master of Winnie’s at the Hill School in Pottstown had encouraged in him a lifelong desire to go his own way, be his own man, when he had taken the then thirteen-year-old lad aside after a particularly clumsy dropping of a right-field fly and told him point-blank that he was going to be a fairy when he grew up.

Winnie, or more correctly, Dunnie, as he was then called, didn’t know what a fairy was, such being the insularity of Main Line education even then. So calmly, that same night, with that quest for curiosity, that vigor for knowledge which deserted him at some point between Hill and U. Va., he asked one of his classmates, a cute Jewish scholarship student from Shreveport named Sammy Rosen, whom Dunnie had been spending a lot of time with because Sammy was well-versed and hence helpful in time of test and trial; and as luck would have it, Sammy knew, as Dunnie knew he would. Sammy also shivered as he dispensed the knowledge, so both of them realized, at precisely this moment in time, that they were about to learn even more comprehensively what a fairy was.

“Want to come to my room and have some of my Mama’s brownies?” Sammy began haltingly.

It was as simple as that.

“What will you do when you finish college?” Sammy asked, trying to keep the conversation light, even though he’d been wet dreaming for several months about such an opportunity as was obviously now creeping up on both of them, as they sat on his bed munching away at Mrs. Rosen’s brown squares and waiting for whatever was going to happen to happen.

“I think I’m very handsome,” Dunnie said quite matter-of-factly, in response to the question. Was this not a Future Great Model in embryo even then? ‘don’t you?”

“”Yes’,” Sammy replied, wondering what one thing had to do with another.

“I wish to do something that will allow the world to appreciate my handsomeness.”

“Oh. Like be a movie star?”

“Heavens, no. I don’t want to have to talk. I just want to be seen.” And to illustrate his point, he cast a long look at himself in Sammy’s bureau mirror, which was tilted just his way. “And, of course, to be talked about. And worshipped and adored.”

“Oh.”

“I guess that means I have to be a famous model, though even that’s less than perfect. I really don’t want to be associated with any product. But I guess that can’t be helped. But I’ll see to it that my picture is large and no one will pay any attention to whatever it is I’m selling.”

This news hung in the air for moments as the two boys–like cute animals in Walt Disney cartoons, which, when confronted with anything intractable, simply engorge it whole–stuffed huge brownies into their mouths. Dunnie was pleased that his future was clear and Sammy was impressed with such direction.

Then he recollected the fairy business and asked: ‘do you” do you look at me in the showers as much as I look at you?”

“Yes. I do,” said Dunnie, again giving himself the look of the loved in that tilted mirror, “‘maybe we better not tell anybody about this’”

Poor Sammy. He was not only on scholarship but was also getting very excited. His schoolmate, between reaching for the maternal brownies, was massaging his penis, now bulging mightily within Sammy’s only pair of gray-flannel trousers, which he had begged his mother and father to buy for him on the trip to Philadelphia at the start of the term and he had summoned up all his courage to ask for them and to say that every boy in class had at least one pair except him and his dad had mumbled something about how the fucking scholarship Sammy had should include a gray-flannel-paints allowance but had bought them for the boy anyway and Sammy had never been able to wear them without a slight tinge of guilt and if Dunnie rubbed him anymore he might explode white stuff all over the fray and then he’d have to throw the pants away.

“Please, Dunnie, could I” please” take off my gray flannels?”

And that of course had been the beginning of the end, or of the beginning. It was only second before both boys were completely naked and opening themselves to the joys and conflicts redolent in this early tender moment of exploring themselves in the body of another, holding on to each other’s dickies as if they were holding on to their own. It was as if each were rather hungry from some already precocious deprivation now being at last fulfilled, their little hands grabbing their little things, Dunnie even returning kisses and not worrying that the lips, too, were Jewish. Unfortunately, Sammy could not contain his involuntary reflexes for too long and his little load of white stuff melded not with the gray flannels from the Brothers Brooks but with the browning from the Mother Rosen. It came so suddenly, the spurt of liquid, that he looked down upon himself as it quivered out, then just sat there studying the improbably combination of semen and chocolate.

Dunnie was also looking at the brownies rather strangely. Suddenly he smiled, and finished himself off with his own hand, directing his own whipped cream to make the dessert before them even classier. Sammy then watched him pick up a creamed-upon square and eat it. But Dunnie, as he ate, did not look at what he was eating. He looked at Sammy. And without saying a word, he held another brownie a la mode in front of Sammy’s mouth and Sammy opened his mouth and ate it, too.

With such sweetness did both lads gain their practical introduction into what a fairy was.