The Librarian Is In

By KATRINA SPENCER

I was enchanted. I’m sure it was the book cover art that stopped me and attracted me to this work: a man is falling precariously but his only preoccupation is his writing. I needed to know more. The main character of this work is Arthur Less, a gay man approaching 50 who is, against his own design, still single. When his former long-time lover sends Arthur an invitation to his wedding, in order to develop a valid excuse not to attend, Arthur launches on a world tour to promote his writing, accepting invitations to speak, teach, travel and write in residence in Mexico, France, India and more. 

Why did I love this work? I think it’s the compassion I felt for Less and the degree with which I identified with him: he’s a talented man whose talent is largely unrecognized and he’s uncoupled, when all he wants to do is fold himself into another caring human being, preferably the same one, over and over again. And he’s pitiful. And haphazard. And a clown, unbeknownst to himself. For example, who accepts a teaching position in Germany, leading German students, but can hardly speak German? Less’s tale is one in which, like many, he leaves home to escape himself and destiny and finds them both en route away from them.

I also liked this work because I’ve read *so* few that prominently feature gay men. I learned more about some of the sexual mores of the gay, male community than I’ve ever encountered before. I do think the work has a slow start but ultimately Arthur Less is so winning that it didn’t matter. Oh, and did I mention that this work won the Pulitzer Prize? 

For more works by gay and queer men, see Vivek Shraya’s “I’m Afraid of Men” or Dan Savage’s “American Savage” at go/overdrive/, anything in the collection by David Sedaris, for example, “Naked”, or search MIDCAT with the keyword “RuPaul.”

Literatures & Cultures Librarian Katrina Spencer is liaison to the Anderson Freeman Center, the Arabic Department, the Comparative Literature Program, the Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies (GSFS) Program, the Language Schools, the Linguistics Program and the Department of Luso-Hispanic Studies.

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The Librarian Is In