Title: American Studies
Author: Mark Merlis
Publisher: Penguin Books
Release Date: January 1st 1996
Genre(s): LGBTQ Fiction, Literary Awards
Page Count: 288
Reviewed by: LenaRibka
Heat Level: 1 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
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.
JD: A Novel was my first Mark Merlis. I read it in 2016.
It was beyond ingenuity.
I remember that I wanted immediately AFTER to read EVERYTHING Mark Merlis wrote. Don’t we all think the same after something so powerful, beautiful and emotional? Why I didn’t do it?!
How could I miss THIS?!
Mark Merlis, who debuted as a novelist in his 40s, penning four works of fiction that explored the joys, tensions and agonies of gay life in America in the 20th century, died Aug. 15 2017 at a hospital in Philadelphia. He was 67.
In one of his interviews Mark Marlis said:
“I am, of course, a gay man whose … novels are swarming with gay characters, and I have allowed myself to be marketed as a practitioner of a genre called gay fiction. But this is a commercial category, not an artistic one. I write, like anybody else, about how it is to be human.”
It is actually all you have to know if you decide to read Mark Merlis.
His novels are beautifully heart-wrenching and simply HUMAN.
What a great loss for us all.