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* Thomas Harris * Delacorte * $27.95

Man-eating monster Hannibal Lecter evokes iffy gay images. Should we care?

Thomas Harris caught flak for making crazed serial killer Jame Gumb a mother-fixated homosexual in The Silence of the Lambs. Eleven years later Harris continues to tweak gay sensibilities with Hannibal, the third chapter in the cat-and-mouse game between serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter and FBI special agent Clarice Starling. Now that Hannibal has settled in for a long stay atop the best-seller lists, gay readers are asking: Should we be insulted or amused?

What is stressed in the new book is not Hannibal Lecter's fierce intelligence and photographic memory but rather what might be called his personal style. The good doctor pretty much defines the term "piss elegant"; one can almost picture him stepping off the ferry in the Fire Island Pines, a bouquet of white peonies under one arm and a smart tote filled with delicacies from Fauchon under the other.

In fact, ever tins a mainstream thriller been quite so fraught with stereotypically homosexual themes and motifs. Among the more prominent: opera, bodybuilding, pornography, fussy entertaining, drugs, cosmetic surgery, the daddy obsession, and--I swear to God--a lesbian couple contemplating artificial insemination.

Hannibal is a messy, baroque stew of a book. Much of it is quite silly in a tongue-in-cheek sort of way. My advice: Just relax, enjoy, and brace yourself for its incredible denouement. What finally happens to Clarice and Dr. Lecter may well be the perfect ending not just to the book but to the millennium itself.

Find out more about Thomas Harris and Hannibal at

Plunket is the author of Love Junkie and My Search for Warren Harding.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Plunket, Robert
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Aug 31, 1999
Previous Article:Strange Sisters: The Art of Lesbian Pulp Fiction, 1949-1969.
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