U.S. Literature: Contemporary Gay Writing
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Contemporary gay writing has been written under the shadow of AIDS. Such writers as Andrew Holleran, Larry Kramer, and Edmund White have assumed the role of eminences grises while still in their fifties because so many writers of their generation have died. Given the foreshortening of life expectancies because of AIDS, few writers can be said to be in midcareer. David Leavitt is a notable exception, having published his first book of stories, Family Dancing, in 1984. Yet Leavitt shows the problems of developing a career as a gay writer. The books have followed without either developing a central core of concerns or exhibiting a mercurial power of continual self-invention. As a writer and gay man who has come out under the specter of AIDS, Leavitt has dealt directly with the pandemic only sparingly. Of course, not all gay writing deals with AIDS or needs to deal with it, but even when it is absent from a work-perhaps most when it is absent from a work-the silence is itself significant. In this regard contemporary gay writing differs markedly from the writing of heterosexuals.