Is The Book Buying Public A Bunch of Naive Sops?
Well, reviewers and readers of Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set A Watchman,” actually written before her celebrated “To Kill a Mockingbird,” are horrified that their beloved Atticus Finch decades after “Mockingbird” takes place turned out to be a bigoted Southerner, not unlike many of his generation. I’ve also heard that the Finch in “Mockingbird” may have carried some of these same attributes had not Harper Lee’s editors sanitized her original manuscript.
So the lovers of “Mockingbird” are heartbroken to learn that Atticus acted like a real person of his times and not some fantasy of fiction. It reminds me of the chastising I’ve gotten from some of my editors and readers of my books who would rather read about some soft focused, romanticized gay world than the “rough around the edges” one I’ve lived and write about.
For example, Jonathan, the main character in my novel, “The Czar of Wilton Drive” was criticized for following the same sordid path his late uncle had taken, namely into the sewer of meth addiction. Like he was somehow supposed to be repulsed by the evils he had witnessed through the questionable friends of Uncle Charlie’s. Hell, what would you expect from a naïve kid from Staten Island who’s become a millionaire overnight?
Another one of my books was so sanitized by my editors that I am almost ashamed to have my name attached to it.
I’m told – and I believe it – that many readers – and writers – of serious male gay erotic fiction are – yes – women, and consequently I as an author of such a genre shouldn’t delve into some of the sordid aspects of gay life, like – God forbid – infidelity between men or kinky sex or drugs or barebacking, for fear I will offend my book-buying public. I guess they would rather read about wimpy guys in fairyland situations and not be immersed in my rough, real world based on the men I’ve known – and had.
On one of my guest blogs this spring, a reader who described herself as a “naive heterosexual woman” asked if the fascination by gay men with barebacking was due to the popularity of bareback porn.
“No,” I answered, “it’s all about hormones and lust.”
Which leaves a writer like me in a dilemma: write for a prissy audience – much like Harper Lee may have been convinced to do by the editor of her first book – or an audience ready for the truth, in my case, how many gay men really live?