Many readers might wonder what compels me, a straight woman, to
write “gay fiction”—novels and short stories with gay male narrators.
I can’t explain what draws me to these men; they’re simply there, and
I have no choice but to tell their stories. Here I welcome the opportunity
to speak about my work within a larger literary context, and perhaps
shed some light on where my fiction falls within that framework.
I’m not so brazen as to compare my work with that of Michael Cunningham
I don’t want to draw immodest similarities between my fiction and the novels
of K. M. Soehnlein
. Some readers might argue that I have nothing on Bart
. But these writers—gay men themselves—have called into being
characters, both gay and straight, that remind me very much of my own.
Lost, searching for answers, these characters insist that we accompany
them on their particular journeys and bear witness to their experience.
In this regard, they’re no different than the characters one might find in
any work of literary fiction.
I don’t envision my fiction as serving a primarily gay audience. Nor, I think,
do many gay writers, though many of them have been marketed that way, or
have been presupposed to fail to appeal to a wider audience. The same could
have been said at one time for African-American writers, or Asian-American
writers, or women writers. But clearly we as readers have benefited from the
wealth of literature these writers have created. We better understand the
African-American experience, the Asian-American experience, the female
experience from having read their work. Perhaps even more than that we
better understand our shared human experience.
My fiction, though populated with gay characters, speaks to this larger human
landscape. Psychological trauma, memory, betrayal: these topics aren’t limited
to the gay experience.
I’m far more interested in the ties that bind than the spaces that divide.
Copyright © 2010 Jennifer Hritz. All Rights Reserved.