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We've received some heated responses to the 100 Best lesbian and gay novels. Our intention with this list, above all, was to start a dialogue about what constitutes gay literature. It is our feeling that the success of our list, and of our visitors' list is proven in the comments you have sent us. A few are posted below. Thanks for your input and keep the dialogue open. --The Triangle.

Dear Triangle,

A friend of mine told me about your website, and as a gay author I was very excited to learn about your work. However, when I accessed the site and read about your list of the 100 Best Gay and Lesbian Novels, my excitement quickly boiled into anger. How could you have left Patricia Nell-Warren's groundbreaking novel The Front Runner off of your list? What were you thinking? It was the first gay love story to ever make the New York Times Best Seller list. There are hundreds of gay running clubs all over the world who take their name from this novel. More importantly, at a time when gay men and lesbians could find no positive portrayals of themselves in mainstream culture, this novel made it to the top of the national publishing industry with a gentle and loving portrayal of a gay relationship. This novel provided a glimmer of hope, a reassurance of normalcy, for gay and lesbian youth around the world. This is a novel that did not simply entertain or inform, though it did those; it is a novel that literally saved lives! The Front Runner is not only one of the most important gay novels ever published, it is a piece of our history as a movement and as a social force. Without courageous voices like Patricia's at a time when most of us were still cowering in the closet, we would not be where we are today. How can anyone take an organization seriously that would so ignore this incredible, monumental novel? I am appalled at this kind of ignorance of our history (and I am assuming it is ignorance and not some hidden commercial agenda as has happened with the movie studios who put out the 100 best lists and ignore their competitors. I'd rather think ignorance than cynical self-interest).

Disappointedly,
Michael R. Gorman
1998 Lambda Literary Award Winner

I think it's great that Death In Venice is #1. When I was an undergraduate English major, it angered me that, in studying that book in class, the gay aspect of it was ignored. When I tried to raise the issue, I was told, "Oh, but it's not about homosexuality, it's about love, or death, or the artistic impulse, or getting old..." It seemed to be about everything except a man with a crush on a boy. It's nice to have this list give me a little sense of righteousness.

--Columbus, OH

I've always been disappointed that the novels of Iris Murdoch don't get on the radar screen for gay literature reviews; almost every one of them has very appealing, naturally written gay characters, and one "Henry and Cato" is exclusively about a gay relationship. I don't know whether all her novels reach top 100 status, but they should be considered. Other novels you could have chosen La Religieuse (Diderot); The Emigrants (Sebald)-although not usually thought of as gay particularly, its central story is.

--San Francisco

Where is Patricia Nell Warren in your list of Top 100? I have to say, this truly discredits any sense I have that you all know your history at all. I'm sending a letter to your sponsors and coalition partners very briefly outlining her contribution and questioning your ability to assess history like this. Thank you.

--Washington, DC

Oh my God! Have you lost your collective minds?

First and foremost, you totally missed the boat by not including The Front Runner (Patricia Warren.) This book changed my life. It was given to me in high school by an English teacher and immediately became such a vital part of my reckoning with sexuality. Please tell me there was a mistake! Perhaps the inclusion of Moby Dick was an error too.

--

Some novels I can't believe you skipped:
The Carnivorous Lamb by Augustin Gomez-Arcos
Nocturnes for the King of Naples by Edmund White
In a Shallow Grave by James Purdy

Some novels I can't believe you had on the list:
To Kill a Mockingbird (a great novel, but gay?--hardly)
Pale Fire (one prissy gay character doesn't make a book gay)
Little Women (huh? because it has a tom boy in it?)

Some books I wish you didn't have but I guess are inevitable:
The Well of Loneliness (it's not a very good book, really)
Giovanni's Room (so vastly over-rated)
Rubyfruit Jungle (ditto)

One book I'm glad you resisted:
The Front Runner (it's a good read when you're 19, but luckily we all grow up)

--

Thank you and your judges for so astutely using this list as a marketing tool, which I assume is its greatest potential strength. It will certainly invite criticism and provoke much argument. However, I'm deeply heartened by the very fact that many will carp about obvious omissions, for it confirms the healthy state of lesbian and gay writing -- so many choices that merit inclusion. My sole criticism has to do with the conspicuous absence of Asian American writers -- there is a wealth to chose from, as your judges must be aware.

--

Yikes! What a list! Some high brow stuff there! But where was Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren? it just about saved my life as a VERY young gay when it it was published, or how about The Lord Won't Mind by Gordon Merrick, or the Catch Trap by Marion Zimmer Bradley, or Child of the Sun by Kyle Onstott & Lance Horner, or poetry of Rod Mckuen, or the Pern novels by Anne McCaffery, or Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, or tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

I admit most of them are not great literature but I think they are very memorable books.

--

A friend of mine told me about your website and your top 100 list. That's good stuff. What isn't so good is the missing cite for The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren. It was a beacon of hope for those of us who weren't "part" of, or immersed in the gay counterculture.

Please expand your list to 101. And set our top list to rights.

--California

I'm writing in response to a letter I saw asking people to write to complain that The Front Runner was not included in the 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Novels list. I say good for you. Someone's finally omitted this title from a "best of" list - and rightly so. I found it poorly written and tedious to read. So many people immediately, and unthinkingly, place this novel into "must-read" lists for gay and lesbian people when it definitely does not warrant being there. I think that you did a fine job with this list.

--

I was very disappointed that Patricia Nell Warren's Front Runner did not make the list. It makes me question the neutrality of the judging.

--San Diego

I was impressed with your willingness to undertake this daunting (and thankless) task. The list included many old favorites as well as piqued my interest in some titles of which I was unfamiliar. I had trouble with why some novels would be included on a gay/lesbian list. I would have made the list more explicit by either openly g/l authors or subject matter. "Open" in terms of the time in which they wrote. Bayard Taylor's Joseph and his Friend comes to mind. Why was Death Comes for the Archbishop selected over My Antonia?

--

I loved this list! Many titles I haven't read yet, and many old friends too. I've made a crusade of introducing friends to 'The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon', and I was delighted to find it on the list! Here's a couple I would add:

"She's Come Undone" by Wally Lamb
"Other Women" by Lisa Alther (I've read this one and loaned it out so many times it's worn out!)

--East Hampton, Ct.

Although I can't bring myself to call it great literature, Anne Rice's "Interview with a Vampire" and "The Vampire Lestat" really helped me at a young age. Written with a gay sensibility and subtext, they allowed me to begin exploring my feelings as well as eased my sense of isolation.

I also very much enjoyed Ethan Mordden's "How Long Has This Been Going On".

Finally, Allison Bechdel's "Dykes to Watch Out For" series is some of the finest literature I have ever read. Although it is not in the same format as the list, it explores so many issues the gay community faces regularly, remains current and vital, and Miss Bechdel is a rare example of a profound writer who makes it seem effortless.

--

Where's Jan Clausen? A second comment: perhaps we should also have a list of 100 best authors, as many of them write short stories rather than novels. We could start by listing all the authors in Men on Men and Women on Women, plus the authors here, plus whichever others spring to mind.

And a third comment: Without meaning to be rude: what's the average age of your panel??!! (I'm 41, and feel YOUNG compared to what they feel like, judging by their choices!)

--South Africa

A truly wonderful and "seemingly" exhaustive list for someone like myself who feels they haven't read a novel in a decade (a slight exaggeration), while reading virtually every other genre. Quite frankly, I was delighted to see so many novels I had read and should return to on your list. And no, certainly not an insane act to place Death in Venice at the top of the list (I think it covers most of the hues of desire) and so many people I know (including myself) have referrenced it so much over the years, we began to consider it cliche to do so (thanks for "rescuing" a wonderful novella). As for books, I would have liked to seen on your list, perhaps just three (Funeral Rites and the Thiefs Journal by Genet) and (Queer by Burroughs---granted, its prose is almost prosaic as compared to Naked Lunch, but I think, like Death in Venice it speaks to human longing and its inevitable frustrations in as "clear" a way as Burroughs would ever speak of them again (in "fiction" that is) Thanks also for providing a reading list that should prove incredibly useful to me and hopefully for friends and students who have or will receive of a copy of the list. Cheers!

--Albany, New York

Hoped to have seen "The Lost Language of Cranes" and/or "Equal Affections" both by David Leavitt. Also very curious on what constitutes a gay/lesbian novel. I am no scholar--of gay studies or anything else--but I doubt the average person would consider "Little Women" or "Moby Dick" or "Turn of the Screw" or many of the others as gay/lesbian novels.

--New York, NY

I'm a literature professor at Chile University. I think that you have missed some important gay and lesbian latin american writers:

"Cobra" by Severo Sarduy (cuban, died in France in 1995)
"Otra vez el mar"Reinaldo Arenas (cuban died in NY in 1991)
"Sobregondi retrocede " Osvaldo Lamborghini (argentine)
"La condesa sangrienta" by Alejandra Pizarnik (died in 1971, argentine)
La esquina es mi corazon. Cronica Urbana. by Pedro Lemebel (chilean)

--Santiago de Chile