Flowers

I feel like this should be such an easy choice—what’s your favorite gay book?—but on the contrary, it is so difficult.

Part of the reason is that I feel like I’ve read so many of them, from A Boy’s Own Story (the first one I read, I think) to Who Dat Whodunnit? (the latest and a thoroughly enjoyable ride with characters I’ve come to love). At the same time there are so many that I should have read that have been glaring omissions.

Another part is simply my failing memory: I’ve read so many, what if I have forgotten something that should rightfully be my favorite?

Of course, if I’ve forgotten one, maybe it wasn’t my favorite. In the same way The Great Gatsby is my favorite novel and I read that (for the first time) almost thirty years ago, if I read something ten or twenty years before, I would still know if it were my favorite, right?

There are so many, but there’s only one that made me pick up the phone when I got to the end and scream incoherently at my friend. That honor goes to Michael Cunningham‘s The Hours.

“When you get to the end, you have to call me because you will not see it coming,” my friend Todd said, and he was right. When I first started reading, I had no idea how Cunningham would mesh three (at best) tangentially related storylines about Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Brown, and Clarissa Vaughn-all women of either questionable or undeniably lesbian sexuality. But it didn’t take long before I was engrossed in each woman’s story (I’d never even read Virginia Woolf at the time, apart from A Room of One’s Own in college). When the link between them was knotted together at the end, somehow it was like lightning.

I loved this book. I made my friend Tamara read it, and then when the movie came out, I drove to Indianapolis just so I could see it with my friend Scott (his partner Jay was less than enthusiastic about seeing it).

It occurs to me now that it’s been many years since I first read this. (Was it 1999? Have I read it again since then?) I have a habit of re-reading Gatsby more or less annually. I think The Hours merits similar attention.

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