Carnal Matters: Four Short Stories by Alexander Goodman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
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The NY Times obituary of George Haimsohn lists that he wrote "gay pornographic fiction under the pen name Alexander Goodman". I think a modern audience has a different view of pornography from the audience when this was published in 1965, as I don't believe there's any way this could be called pornography.
Published by the Guild Press, this was really the forefront of gay literature. This was the first time gay stories were being mass produced for a gay audience by a gay publishing house. The works of Mr Goodman are very rare today, and I am fortunate enough to have found and digitized almost all of them.
This book is one of, if not the first, written by Haimsohn and contains four short stories.
EVERYBODY LOVES CHARLIE - One of the great parts of these stories is the dated, time capsule feel to them. This one concerns a small group of men living in San Francisco and their overly charming friend Charlie. In this story there's much melo-drama, all the queens are bitchy and back-stabbing, and every gay relationship is doomed, as is typical of many stories from the time.
THE BATTLE BETWEEN THE POETS AND THE PAINTERS - A story of a poetry club that kind of goes nowhere. The club goes to an arts school and gives a poetry reading. The best parts are the outrage at paying three dollars each for dinner, who would ever pay that much?!?! And a dramatic reading of a poem called "We are the gay!!!"
IRVING - This one is worth the price of admission, this is the one that gets the book five stars. Set in Hawaii, the story concerns gay sailors on shore leave. The narrator asks his older male friend, whom he refers to as mommy, why he can't get laid. He is told the reason is he doesn't have the je ne sais quoi. In all of these stories, the feminine gays are reviled. It is as Quentin Crisp says, they are all looking for the great dark man to go to bed with, but once he goes to bed with them, he's no longer masculine, and they want something else.
Anyway, his "mother" gives him advice, saying he needs to stop looking for the great dark man and focus on hustlers and trade, straight guys looking for a quick time. The book contains several tips on how to pick up trade, what to say to them, where to take them. Hotels at the time wouldn't let you bring just anyone back to your room. There's a twist ending, and overall this story is the perfect time capsule of the early 1960's gay life.
PICTURES YOU'D BE PROUD TO SHOW YOUR MOTHER - The final story is about a man who works in computers. He's very methodical and the book describes the man having a computer in his brain, complete with punch card and red flashing lights, as all computers have. The self-centered man meets a physique photographer and agrees to a posing session for a magazine with another guy. The catch is this guy is straight and has a wife and kids, so no funny business. The computer-minded man knows this won't be a problem, he's so logical, but will his body be in sync with his analytical mind?
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