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A House on the Ocean, a House on the Bay.

by Felice Picano (Faber & Faber, $24.95)

Reviewed by the Rev. Malcolm Boyd

Set in the pre-AIDS era, this novelistic memoir by Felice Picano portrays an incipient gay paradise--Fire Island, N.Y.--threatened by a wave of destruction. Picano, of course, is a premier voice in gay letters. Author of 15 books, including Like People in History, he coauthored The New Joy of Gay Sex, helped create two gay presses, and was a founder of New York's revolutionary Violet Quill Club. This book compellingly depicts Picano's development as a gay man ("For the first time ... I felt evaluated and appreciated by qualities I valued, not artificial conventions") and as a pioneering figure in gay publishing.

Here we observe the burgeoning author discovering that the joy of writing is equal in intensity to sexual intercourse and his first LSD trips. He also discovers Fire Island: "One-nighters, orgies, public sex in the bushes or on the beach, were also considered okay, so long as they were done with some style."

Several vivid characters emerge. None is more striking than one of Picano's lovers, Ed, who claims that he's "sensually enslaved" to another man's body while seeking intellectual and emotional bonding with Picano. The truth, Picano finds, is that Edward "didn't know who he was and looked to others to tell him. We were mirrors in which he saw himself."

This book is exquisitely etched in finely honed detail. Young gay readers will enjoy it for its lively evocation of a memorable time in gay history, while more mature gay readers will identify with the odyssey of one man's involvement.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Boyd, Malcolm
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 15, 1997
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