Josh Lanyon Main Title

"The Play of Shadows and Light:
Hansen Before Dave"

From The Golden Age of Gay Fiction
Edited by Drewey Wayne Gunn

Josh contributes an essay on Joseph Hansen's early career as pulp fiction writer James Colton in this entertaining chronicle of The Golden Age of Gay Fiction -- roughly the period between the first Kinsey Report and the first collection of Tales of the City. Nineteen authors -- writers, scholars, collectors and publishers -- give due to both the touchstone novels from the period as well as highlighting works of fiction that have been left unjustly to gather dust on literary shelves. Includes 200 illustrations.

The Golden Age of Gay Fiction recently received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Independent Book Publishers Association for Best GLBT Non-fiction, and is currently a finalist in the non-fiction category for the Lambda Literary Awards.


"The witing is uniformly excellent. Clearly all the contributors have a passion for their chosen topic. They also pulled off a feat that eludes many contributed non-fiction collections: the book is interesting and fun to read. This is not some dry, dusty tome that will be relegated to the libraries of esoteric researchers; rather, anyone who is interested in gay fiction, even if only marginally, will find something enjoyable to read in The Golden Age of Gay Fiction. I am willing to bet on it."
Leslie H. Nicoll, Speak its Name
"I read this book eagerly and with a great deal of pleasure; now that I have gulped its content, I have already begun re-reading at a more measured pace. The quality of writing in the individual essays is of a very high order, the information presented is fascinating and important to our history, and I believe the book will find a place among the important cultural studies of the gay world."
Piet Bach, Wilde Oats
"Reading about the past is like running into an old acquaintance: so much is familiar, and yet you find that much of what you thought you knew has changed or is different. The authors of these essays will not let us forget that much of what we believed about the gay literature being produced in the third quarter of the 20th century is outdated, inadequate, and unfair. While these novels indeed present a picture of some of the fears and difficulties that beset gay men in that era, they also contain surprising stories of courage and determination, and enough happy endings to satisfy even the grouchiest skeptic. If you are one of those who has shied away from books written in this ìgolden age,î afraid they were all too grim or too lacking in writerly sophistication, try another tack. Use Drewey Wayne Gunnís wonderful collection of essays to guide you through the literature, and then, read some of the originals."
Ann Bannon,
"The Golden Age of Gay Fiction is an impressively ambitious work, bringing together the experiences and observations of 19 diverse writers, ranging from incredibly productive gay authors (such as Victor J. Banis and William Maltese, who released dozens of pulp gay novels under a multitude of pseudonyms), prestigious academics, publishers and simply book lovers. The 22 essays are arranged by category, starting with those giving some background on the "paperback explosion" in publishing, to the evolution of gay books amid censorship trends, and finally to an examination of the subgenres in gay fiction, such as mysteries, science fiction, romance and others. Each section gives numerous examples of books depicting that era or subgenre, most with photos of the cover art, and gives mini-biographies (and bibliographies) of many of the authors.
An excellent reference, or a "conversation-starter" on your coffee table, this book is definitely a keeper, and any avid gay fiction reader should consider buying one. The book is priced as a reference book, but reasonable for the work that went into it, and nowhere near what I'll probably spend hunting down the many interesting titles that the book alerted me I'd missed! Fascinating read, which I give five pulp stars out of five."
Bob Lind, Echo Magazine

"The Play of Shadows and Light: Hansen Before Dave"
Trade paperback
Appears exclusively in
The Golden Age of Gay Fiction
2009, MLR Press.
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