Larry Kramer’s 2015 novel The American People, Volume 1: Search for My Heart was reviewed twice in the New York Times; in March by Dwight Garner and in May by John Sutherland. In between those two critiques, there was an April interview feature by Alexandra Alter.
For many authors, that would be a bounty. But for someone of Kramer’s stature, the coverage has not sat so well. From his essay in the October ‘Nowstalgia’ issue of Paper magazine, on newsstands this week:
When we [gay writers] fall into the hands of book critics at The Times, we are amazed at their lack of understanding, empathy, of what we are trying to do and say. It is quite amazing how fervent and omnipresent is the homophobia that never-endingly remains the norm for gay writers in their book reviews. There is not one gay or lesbian author who has not experienced what I’m talking about.
The daily New York Times and its Sunday Book Review are famous among gay writers for ignoring us, or trashing us. Straight critics just don’t get us. Just like straight historians don’t get us. It’s their way or the highway. And as The Times goes, so go other publications and critics in America in their relentless game of Follow the Leader.
The Garner review is definitely more mixed than the Sunday Book Review write-up by Sutherland. For example, at one point, Garner writes that ‘as a work of sustained passion, it is formidable.’ (That quote is also pulled on The American People’s Amazon page.)
Kramer goes on to write in the Paper piece that he would bet neither NYT reviewer fully read his 775-page tome. FishbowlNY thinks he would lose that bet.
[Jacket cover courtesy: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux]