RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe most hotly anticipated queer title of the new decade (though it is only January, dear), Garth Greenwell’s Cleanness offers a familiarly impressive follow-up to his widely acclaimed 2016 debut novel, What Belongs to You ... Greenwell’s movement into short fiction...has provided him the space to write what he wants and, for the most part, to give his readers what they want ... It is hard to think of another contemporary gay writer who so assiduously searches out the (im)possibility of belonging somewhere, of belonging to someone or something, to a couple or community that might heal the deep rifts of loneliness and alienation ... What Greenwell leaves us with is a powerful desire for belonging that is always and everywhere frustrated, the perennial plight of the transnational queer or, a bit larger, a statement about how the realization of our desires to belong to others (and to have others belong to us) must always be deferred, incomplete, impossible. Keeping those wounds open, while gesturing at the possibility of transformation, is one of the signal achievements of Cleanness, and Greenwell’s writing more generally ... With Greenwell, we are lucky to be at the beginning, with the end still many more volumes to come.
Andrea Long Chu
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksIn effect, everyone who would be pre-programmed to dislike Females will find reasons to do so ... if we sidestep the norms of reception — questions of whether an argument is to accepted or rejected, whether it is good or bad — we are forced to sit, rather uncomfortably, with an ambivalence that beats at the heart of Females’s reading of the interrelation between desire, power, and identity ... Productive as this reading of porn is, Females does some of its most compelling work by way of a rather unexpected close reading of the culture of the manosphere, those parts of the internet where disaffected men (incels and Proud Boys and others) go in search of ways to more authentically inhabit a masculinity no one actually possesses ... While Chu can’t get us out of this trap, and in some ways languishes in this irresolvable what-to-do question in Females, her pointing to it is worthwhile. And so, whether we agree or disagree, Chu gives us much to consider.
PanLos Angeles Review of Books... seems a naked attempt to capitalize on the earlier novel’s runaway success ... The first disappointment in picking up Find Me is that Elio and Oliver’s reunion is relegated to the last 12 pages ... While Sami may have had the most memorable lines from Call Me by Your Name, it seems a stretch that he should be the character whose story anchors the sequel ... we also glimpse the patriarchal energy that settles over Find Me and Call Me by Your Name like a bad smell. In both novels, it is only the male’s desire that matters, only his needs that have weight or substance ... There are strong and impactful reflections on loss, desire, and intimacy, but those themes seem rather diluted and distorted from their earlier pitch ... Every daddy is, in the end, rewarded with a pretty young(er) thing, a sort of literary dose of Viagra for characters elegantly wringing their hands over the loss of youth and vitality ... we watch not so much representations of human beings as representations of representations ... Aciman’s characters read as hollow and shopworn, their idyllic lives vapid, inconsequential, uninteresting. Without anything anchoring them to the ground, neither an impactful realism nor the nuance and complications that make a life interesting to read, the characters in Find Me end up feeling merely lost.
MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksWhite’s ability to peel away the idealized image exposes the labor involved in maintaining and manufacturing that image. In so doing, he asks serious questions about the kind of life created by and generative of post-Liberation gay identity ... The contemporary gay world is much more expansive than this novel can offer, but it’s still fun to return to the intimate world of Edmund White.