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The Lost Language of Cranes

by Daniel Scheffler
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Friday Jun 20, 2014
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The first edition of "The Lost Language of Cranes " came out in 1986: a difficult time for a young gay man to come out to his parents as some might recall. Since then and thanks to advocates and even now our Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton, things are most certainly easier. Even though NPR’s Terry Gross tried to nudge Clinton a little, her current work speaks the loudest. But of course the deeply personal struggle that comes with coming out may be easier as society let’s us more freely express ourselves, yes. But the reality is: coming out is still not easy and probably will never be.

This is the fourth edition of the book to publish and now author David Leavitt starts off his preface with an admittance of it not being totally perfect and up to his standards. And so he tweaked his book and made some very valuable changes. It would be too boring to track them all but the sense that there are changes and worthy ones are certainly adequate -- especially with the gay political climate currently. There is a scene where he mentions that erotic attraction to men was, as the lead character puts it to his mother, by necessity "the most crucial, most elemental force" in a gay man’s life. This certainly holds water, and perhaps always will. Of course AIDS and HIV then vs. now is completely different and society’s judgment on marriage and equality too, thus complicating things a little more.

It’s Manhattan, it’s the 80s and the city is gentrifying fast -- but the gay undertones are starting to run this town and Philip, although in agony, knows it will all bubble over

Back to the book. And so we meet Philip Benjamin, a New Yorker and lover of life, struggling as he simply has to come out to Rose and Owen, his parents, and we experience their reactions full throttle. Some of these are less than desirable for everyone involved and a father gay issue rings the loudest of bells.

It’s Manhattan, it’s the 80s and the city is gentrifying fast -- but the gay undertones are starting to run this town and Philip, although in agony, knows it will all bubble over. At home his parents have to leave their Turtle Bay home they love so and Philip has to admit to himself that he’s fallen in love with a man. The novel seems overly simplistic and even Leavitt admits that it might seem "ridiculously unsophisticated" -- this is simply not true it seems to live on forever.

"The Lost Language of Cranes"
David Leavitt
$17.00
Bloomsbury

Based between New York and Cape Town, Daniel Scheffler writes about socio political and travel matters and is working on a memoir. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler.

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