The Lost Language of Cranes: A Novel

The Lost Language of Cranes: A Novel - David Leavitt As far as I'm aware, this is Leavitt's first published novel, and it's an impressive effort. Leavitt's theme is that of many of his stories in Family Dancing - that is, family relationships from a specifically gay standpoint. In a way, you could analyze this novel down into a rather pedantic series of illustrative dissertations on possible varieties of family response: there's Jerene, the black lesbian whose parents have entirely disowned her; there's Eliot, brought up as the adopted son of a settled & sophisticated gay couple - Eliot who somehow has never managed to develop a capacity for emotional intimacy; there are the two principal characters, Philip and his father Owen, both gay, and both making that revelation in the course of the book. The generational difference is nicely etched - differences in expectations, in guilt level, in ways of going about things. The last main character to mention is Rose, Philip's mother and Owen's wife. She cannot fully accept or understand what she finds out about the two men in her life - but what I find interesting is that she is portrayed neither as monster nor victim. I think I mentioned elsewhere that Leavitt seems to have a surprisingly strong sense of his female characters. Anyway, the point I started out to make and didn't quite finish is that these characters seem to me not only to be perceived/analyzed but to be felt. I really can't think of much higher praise for a modern novel. This is a post-AIDS book, by the way. It's not mentioned by name, but the consciousness of it is everywhere. One last thought just struck me. There are no straight men in this book - gay men, straight women, and gay women, yes.