Ackroyd looks at the metropolis in a whole new way—through the history and experiences of its gay population. He takes us right into this hidden city, celebrating its diversity, thrills, and energy on the one hand; but reminding us of its very real terrors, dangers, and risks on the other.
...the best book you'll read about night life this year ... London's finest chronicler's account of gay life from the Romans on is a powerful reminder of the importance of pleasure ... When London's lights begin to dim, our enjoyment of the licentious becomes powerful, potent, and pungent. And it is that story that Ackroyd tells with his usual panache for place, character, and situation ... If you've never read anything by Peter Ackroyd, imagine settling down in a pub, a proper pub, a pub that sells warm beer out of wooden kegs ... There you are, ensconced in that pub, a few empties on the table, your mouth alive with the tang and fizz of good, premium strength lager, your chest slightly wheezy from laughing too much, and you're stuck by the realisation that your companion is so knowledgeable, so erudite, so simply brilliant ... That's what reading Peter Ackroyd is like.
That thrill is reprised in Peter Ackroyd’s Queer City, which inventories two millenniums of lesbians, gays, trans people and other queers who have lived in London ... Unlike his predecessors, Ackroyd doesn’t knot up his lists with philosophical puzzles about the nature of sexuality, or its lack of a nature, and he dispenses with source notes. Queer history apparently no longer has anything to prove ... Ackroyd, unburdened, is free to be droll. ... This is a guided helicopter tour, not a research seminar. Still, it’s impressive how much detail can be seen even at this elevation and speed.
If there was a prize for the most evocative or salacious chapter headings, then Peter Ackroyd’s new book, Queer City, would be the undisputed victor ... Ackroyd has a good ear for doggerel and popular ballads ... [Ackroyd is] strongest on how homosexuals were seen in literature ... throughout there is plenty of Ackroydian wit.