Feb 3, 2019

Gay Characters in America's Favorite Novels, Part 3

On to #51-75 of America's best loved novels, as determined by a PBS survey.  Let's see if I've read it or ran away screaming, and if there are any gay characters or subtexts.

51. Their Eyes were Watching God.  Never read, but I heard of Zora Neal Hurston, a Harlem Renaissance writer who investigated Old South folkways.  A woman grow up in Jim Crow Florida and gets married a lot.  Out of print for 30 years, so how did all of these respondents find it?

Oh: it was turned into a 2005 movie starring Halle Berry as the Woman and several African-American hunks as the husbands.

52. Jurassic Park.  Never read.  Saw the movie. An dinosaur zoo is not a good idea, but if you must have one, invite a male and female paleontologist to fall in love.  No gay characters.

53. The Godfather. Read many years ago.  Not bad potboiler depiction of a Mafioso family.  The description of Michael Corleone's super-sized penis is worth the price of the book.  No gay characters, but probably some scattered "fag" and "fairy" slurs that I don't remember.

Al Pacino played Michael Corleone in 1972, back when he was cute.  I don't know if he has a super-sized penis.

54. One Hundred Years of Solitude.  Read a long time ago, but I recall being impressed.  Magic realism, non-linear plot, therefore hard to follow, but I think it's about several generations of a family in the town of Macondo, Brazil, which is cut off from time.  No gay characters.

55. The Picture of Dorian Gray. Read.  Oscar Wilde is gay, but his creation has to settle for subtext; he's got a picture in the attic that stays young and beautiful, while he engages in all sorts of beauty-destroying vices.

The 2009 movie also asks us to settle for subtext: Dorian (Ben Barnes) leers at a couple of guys while grabbing at every woman in sight.

56.The Notebook.  Ran away from this after seeing the movie posters with a couple (Ryan Gosling and a woman) kissing in the rain.  It's about an elderly man telling the story of their undying love to his wife, who has Alzheimer's and doesn't remember him.  How depressing!

57. The Shack.  Never heard of it. A girl is murdered in a shack in the wilderness, and years later, God invites her father, Mack, to visit the same shack.  There, the Holy Trinity takes him on adventures, like the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future in A Christmas Carol.  Incidentally, they also give him the info on how to catch the girl's killer.

In the 2017 movie, Sam Worthington plays Mack, and there's some boy-girl kissing.

58. A Confederacy of Dunces.  Started.  It was awful.  A bulbous creep criticizes everybody in the world for their lack of intelligence. I imagine there aren't any gay characters, but I wouldn't know.  I was too busy throwing the book away.

59. Hunt for Red October.  Never read.  Remember my rule about books in the airport gift shop?  American and Soviet submarines clash during the Cold War.  Red October is a submarine, by the way.

The 1990 movie starred Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin.

60. Beloved.  Never read.  An ex-slave whose daughter was murdered.  Why are beloved novels always about death?  And why do the characters always have names like Schoolteacher, Schoolteacher's Nephew, Denver, Suggs, and Beloved?  What's wrong with Sam, Dave, George, and Irene?

The 1998 movie turns it into a horror story, with the daughter showing up to haunt the mother (Oprah Winfrey).  Wes Bentley plays the evil Schoolteacher's evil Nephew.

61.The Martian.  Never heard of it.  A Martian explorer is trapped when his expedition leaves without him.  Eventually another expedition picks him up. I'm pretty sure he's not gay.

The 2015 movie starring Matt Damon added some hetero-romances.

62. The Eye of the World. Never read, but I heard it was a totally derivative alternate-world fantasy.  A group of friends are attacked by Trollocs and have to flee, finding various allies, enemies, lost cities, and magical implements.  Like the Eye of the World, a one-ring that can defeat the Dark One. But...The Lord of the Rings is right there on your shelf.

No gay characters, maybe some subtexts.

63. Siddhartha. Read.  A fictionalized biography of Gautama Buddha, played by Keanu Reaves in the film version.  No gay characters.

64. Crime and Punishment.  Read.  Spoiler:  Raskolnikov kills someone for the fun of it, then feels guilty.  Oh, and he romances a prostitute.  They did that a lot in Russian novels.

65. The Sun Also Rises. Read. Depressed, injured World War I vet searches for love, but he's impotent due to his injury, so sex is impossible (he never heard of the many sexual acts one can perform with hands and mouths?).  There's a homophobic reference to how much he hates gay people and wants to beat them up.

Last filmed in 1957, with Tyrone Power as the impotent Nick.

66. The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time.  Never heard of it.  Christopher is a 15-year old autistic boy who investigates the death of the neighbor's dog, and ends up reconciling with his mother, who he thinks is dead. Really. But at least he doesn't fall in lo-ooo-ve.

66. A Separate Peace.  Never read, but I know Louise's dictum applies: Children's books are all about cool animals or kids who die.  Buddy-bonding at a prep school, with a strong gay subtext.  And death.

The 2004 movie starred J. Barton, Toby Moore, Jacob Pitts, and Aaron Ashmore.

67.Don Quixote.  Read. One of the great novels of Western literature, at least Part 1.  Nothing like the musical with Don Quixote in lo-oo-oove with Dulcinea.  A lot of Quixote-Sancho Panza gay subtext.

68. Lovely Bones.  Never read.  14-year old murdered girl Susie leads her family and friends to her murderer. I feel left out.  Why ate the victims of serial killers in the movies always girls?

Chief among the investigators is classmate Ray Singh  (Reece Ritchie in the movie version), who had a crush on her and now falls in love with another girl.

The killer, by the way, is the loner neighbor with the porn stache who they suspected all along.

69. The Alchemist.  Never read.  I didn't even know it was a novel; I thought it was a philosophical tract.  It appears to convey the philosophical ideas through a non-gay boy named Santiago.

70. Hatchet. Never heard of it. A plane crashes in the Canadian wilderness, and the only survivor, a young boy, has to survive.  Who would want to read about that? 

I have heard of the film version, A Cry in the Wild (1990), starring Jared Rushton, who Google thinks is one of these guys.  I'm not buying it: he's now 44 years old, and blond.  But a chest is a chest.

72.  Invisible Man.  Read.  He's not actually invisible, he's black in a racist society. No gay characters.

73. The Twilight Saga.  Never read.  Is that the one with teen idol vampires who take their shirts off, and fans proclaiming that they're on Team Edward or Team Joseph? There are probably minor gay characters wandering around.

This is Robert Pattinson, who plays Edward in the movies. Very sloppy signature.

74. Tales of the City.  Read. Well, started to, many times,but it's so utterly dull that I always fall asleep.  Gay characters are prominent in this "comedy" saga of an intertwined group of friends in 1970s San Francisco.

75. Gulliver's Travels. Read.  But I'm pretty sure the respondents like the idea better than the actual novel.

Of these 25 Beloved Novels, I've read nine.  Several gay subtexts, but actual gay characters in one, maybe two.

Deplorable record.  Maybe #76-100 are better.


  1. Yeah, most of these weren't worth my trademark snark. Tradesnark, if you will. Except, bad enough Atlas Shrugged was on the list, now Twilight? It's not even political bias, everyone knows these people suck.

    When you're an Indian, Twilight creates a whole new type of performance anxiety. What happens when your partner doesn't realize you can't transform?

  2. I did not read the book but did see "The Martian" movie- because I will see anything with Matt Damon- the character in the movie seemed gay coded to me - at the end everyone has a family except him

  3. Dammit bro, if you are going off on all these movies could we at least have your august opinion of "Birdy."

  4. My god u condemn a confederecy of dunces - a minor masterpiece and hilarious - i think you might not have settled to the humour/style - ive read it repeatedly in my life for the laughter and Ignatious, the pompous anti hero - full of gay characters, Ignatious actually attends a gay party, really really funny - u got to give it another go!!!!!!!

    1. I hated that misanthropic blob so much that even after thirty years, I get a sick feeling when thinking about that novel. Which I guess is a sign of artistic brilliance: not many authors could create such a thoroughly disagreeable character in just a few pages.


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