Fellow Travelers

Fellow Travelers

by Thomas Mallon


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It's 1950s Washington, D.C.: a world of bare-knuckled ideology and secret dossiers, dominated by personalities like Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, and Joe McCarthy. Enter Timothy Laughlin, a recent college graduate and devout Catholic eager to join the crusade against Communism. An encounter with a handsome State Department official, Hawkins Fuller, leads to Tim's first job and, after Fuller's advances, his first love affair. As McCarthy mounts a desperate bid for power and internal investigations focus on “sexual subversives” in the government, Tim and Fuller find it ever more dangerous to navigate their double lives. Moving between the diplomatic world of Foggy Bottom and NATO's front line in Europe, Fellow Travelers is a searing historical novel infused with political drama, unexpected humor, and genuine heartbreak.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307388902
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/06/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 522,295
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Thomas Mallon is the author of the novels Bandbox, Henry and Clara, and Dewey Defeats Truman; In Fact, a collection of essays; and the nonfiction books Stolen Words, A Book of One's Own, and Mrs. Paine's Garage. A frequent contributor to The Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, and other magazines, he lives in Washington, D.C.

Read an Excerpt

Part One: September–December 1953

In the era of security clearances to be an Irish Catholic became prima facie evidence of loyalty. Harvard men were to be checked; Fordham men would do the checking.

Chapter One: September 28, 1953

Tim counted four big fans whirring atop their stanchions in the newsroom. Every window here on the seventh floor was open, and summer had officially departed six days ago, but that was Washington for you. When air-conditioning might come to the Star seemed to be a perennial matter of sad-sack speculation among the staff: “When hell freezes over,” went one answer Tim had heard in his three months here. “Because then we won’t need it.”

Miss McGrory, one of the paper’s book reviewers, arrived with a bottle of whiskey, which she set down next to the punch bowl and cake, whose single chocolate layer and frosted inscription, “Happy Trails, Sheriff,” would soon be cut into by the retirement party’s guest of honor, Mr. Yost, a pressman who’d been at the Star since 1912 and took his nickname from a weekend job he had as a constable over in Berwyn Heights.

More people drifted in. “We could use a piano,” opined Miss Eversman, the music critic. She’d covered Liberace’s concert two nights ago at Constitution Hall and was telling a police reporter that the pianist’s mother had been in the president’s box with one of Liberace’s brothers, Rudy, who’d served in Korea.

“So she’s got one boy who’s a soldier?” asked the reporter. “Maybe she’s got hope of grandchildren after all.”

Miss Eversman laughed.

“Forget Liberace,” said Mr. Yost, who’d started to reminisce about his first years here at the paper. “I remember seeing Wilson himself—that’s Woodrow Wilson, not Charlie, to you youngsters—up in his box at Keith’s Theatre. You wouldn’t have figured it from an egghead like him, but did that man ever love his vaudeville. You could sell him any player-piano roll the minute it came out.”

“We really do need a piano,” Miss Eversman sighed, as the national and managing editors walked in. Mr. Corn and Mr. Noyes took up positions off to the side of things and remarked to each other, a bit shamefacedly, on the smallness of the spread.

“Well,” said Mr. Corn, quoting the late Senator Taft’s famously impolitic advice about higher food prices: “Eat less.”

The party was making Tim feel nostalgic, and thus a bit foolish, since he’d been, after all, only a summer hire allowed to stay on through September—or, more exactly, this coming Friday afternoon. They’d put him in the city room, even though he’d never been to Washington before June and knew nothing about the District as a place where many citizens lived life quite oblivious to the federal government. His placement, he’d come to understand, was typical of the Star, a paper both venerable and feckless, produced each evening by an eccentric, occasionally brilliant staff. He had liked it here and would miss the place, but given the shortness of his tenure he wasn’t sure he should even take a piece of the cake once it got cut.

A small stack of the paper’s early edition lay atop an open drawer of the file cabinet he was leaning against. Ambassador Bohlen was flying home from Moscow to talk with Secretary Dulles, and this morning Louis Budenz, a Fordham professor and former red, had testified to the McCarthy committee that, in his “humble opinion,” parts of an Army-commissioned pamphlet about Siberia—something put together to educate the Far Eastern Command—contained large chunks of Soviet-sympathizing stuff that had been taken, without footnotes or refutation, from Communist writers.

Cecil Holland, the reporter who’d written the Budenz story, now saw Tim reading it and asked, “Laughlin, you just graduated from Fordham, didn’t you? Ever study with this guy who says the army’s been indoctrinating itself?”

Tim smiled. “I had somebody else for Economics, Mr. Holland.” He grimaced. “I think I got a C-plus.” Holland laughed and walked over to claim a piece of the cake that had finally been sliced.

At Fordham, Tim had mostly studied American history and English literature, and his plan in coming to Washington remained, even now, to combine his major and minor into a job writing for a politician, though throughout the city’s hot, depopulated summer he’d made little headway finding anything on Capitol Hill. Well, he’d have plenty of time and motivation come Friday afternoon!

The party conversation had turned to Senator McCarthy’s imminent wedding. “What kind of guy picks lunch hour on Tuesday to get married in a church?” asked the financial-page editor.

“A guy who’s busy taking over the world,” answered Cecil Holland.

“That’s why he’s marrying a girl on his staff,” added the police reporter. “Maximum efficiency. She’ll be able to crank out the press release for Joe’s firstborn as soon as she’s cranked out the baby.”

“Well, from what I hear,” said Miss Eversman, “McCarthy’s mother might be more surprised by all this than Liberace’s.” Everyone had heard the rumors.

Would the president show up for the wedding? People began to take bets. Ike’s contempt for McCarthy was by now well developed, but it would be hard, some argued, for him not to put in an appearance, now that he was back from vacation, and with St. Matthew’s being only a few blocks from the White House.

Miss McGrory, who appeared to regard this talk of McCarthy on the order of a frog in the punch bowl, returned to an earlier subject and insisted that they didn’t need a piano. She patted Mr. Yost’s arm and dared him to get everybody started singing “Oh, You Beautiful Doll”—Woodrow Wilson’s absolute all-time favorite, the retiring pressman had reminded them.

Tim, who had been to all the West Side weddings of his uncountable cousins, right away felt Irish instinct trump shyness. He joined in as soon as Mr. Yost and Miss McGrory got things going, and within a moment, even as he remained alone with his thoughts, was singing the same words as everyone else:

Let me put my arms about you,
I don’t want to live without you.

His job at the Star had come through the nephew of an old pal of his dad’s from Manhattan Criminal Court, where Paul Laughlin had worked during what everyone in the family now called the old days—the ones before Mr. Laughlin, nearing forty, put himself through LaSalle, by correspondence and then at night, completing his transformation from process server into accountant, making possible his family’s move from Hell’s Kitchen to the unimaginably big and bright new rooms of Stuyvesant Town. Those rooms seemed even larger now that Tim’s older sister, Frances, the Laughlins’ only other child, had gone off to Staten Island to live with her husband.

If you ever leave me, how my heart would ache,
I want to hug you but I fear you’d break—

While singing these lines, Tim realized that most of the partygoers’ eyes were on him. His pleasing tenor voice—a surprise to those who’d heard only his soft, polite speech with its occasional stammer—had risen above everyone else’s in volume, though to anybody paying attention to the lyric, it seemed far more likely that any hugging to involve this five-foot-seven, 130-pound young man would result in his breakage, not the girl’s. Realizing what had provoked the attention and smiles, Tim blushed and lowered his voice, while everybody else raised theirs for the song’s big finish:

Oh, oh, oh, oh,
Oh, you beautiful doll!

Mr. Yost led the revelers’ applause for themselves, and when it subsided, Mr. Brogan, Tim’s boss on the city desk, announced: “It’s clear to me that we kept too much of Laughlin’s light under a bushel this summer. I wish we’d had more for you to do, Timmy.”

Tim smiled and thanked him. Since June he’d mostly typed and done rewrites, bringing the perfect grammar of the nuns to the fitfully produced copy of the oldest city reporters, who teased him about being a college man, and about a pretty girl named Helen, another summer hire who answered a phone in Classifieds and sometimes stopped to chat at his desk.

They might have kept on teasing him now, but they didn’t really know enough about this conscientious, if cheerful, boy, and so the spotlight soon moved elsewhere. Tim shrank back into himself as Cecil Holland redirected the conversation to—what else?—the senator from Wisconsin.

What would McCarthy do next? people wanted to know. Holland advised them to watch what was going on up in New York: Cohn had been running subcommittee meetings there, taking testimony in closed sessions when he wasn’t snooping around Fort Monmouth over in Jersey. You watch: McCarthy would soon be taking shots at the army for whatever security breaches he could discover or invent.

“I’m gonna love you, like nobody’s loved you, come Cohn or come Schine,” crooned the police reporter, reprising a song spoof from last spring, when McCarthy staffers Roy Cohn and David Schine, colleagues and pals (some people said more), had gone on their tour of USIA libraries in Europe, ridding the shelves of anti-American books by Ameri- can authors.

No one ever talked half so much about Eisenhower as they did about McCarthy, Tim reflected; the senator was as constantly on people’s lips as FDR had been when he was a boy, even if the only other thing Roosevelt and McCarthy might have in common was the admiration of Tim’s father. Paul Laughlin still revered FDR (Mrs. R was now another story), as he had since the First Hundred Days. Before the arrival of the New Deal, already the father of two babies, Mr. Laughlin had spent plenty of afternoons playing stickball on the pavements of the West Fifties, unable to scare up any work pushing dress racks or plastering or even delivering groceries to widows in their Ninth Avenue walkups. But by the end of ’33, Paul Laughlin had become, according to the family joke, “the oldest man in the CCC,” upstate for weeks at a time, cutting down trees or planting new ones for what was at least half a living wage. Some kindhearted supervisor took notice of his hard work and referred him to a pal in the courts, where he worked his way up toward something like security and, at last, the cessation of sleepless nights.

Nothing—not even Grandma Gaffney’s cutlery-tapping recaps of every Father Coughlin broadcast—had ever put Mr. Laughlin off Roosevelt. He remained true to the president’s memory even when the war ended and the accounting money started coming in and he began bringing the Journal-American instead of the Post home to Stuy Town, which he eventually took to reminding them had been built by a private insurance company, not as a government project. By the time Tim was finishing high school, he’d gotten used to hearing his father say that Bishop Sheen—fine anti-red that he might be—nonetheless had a foolish sympathy for some of the labor unions. And a couple of years after that, once the television came into the living room, Dean Acheson could not come on it without Mr. Laughlin announcing, in sarcastic imitation: “I will not turn my back on Alger Hiss.” The line always made Tim and Frances laugh, as if Acheson were not a person but a corporation with a trademark pledge, like “Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.”

But for all that, Tim saw no reason why his father—the mildest of Cold Warriors, really, looking eastward not so much for invading Soviets as for the house he now hoped to buy in Nassau County—wasn’t right about the fundamentals of politics.

Mr. Brogan, Tim now noticed, had been buttonholed by Betty Beale, one of the society reporters.

“Miss Canby isn’t pulling her weight?” asked Brogan, laughing. “You shock me, Miss Beale.”

“Joke if you want,” said the reporter, to whom the women’s-page editor was a constant thorn in the side. Miss Beale took her own work seriously and made a point of actually going to the events she covered, not just relying on a phone call to the hostess to ask what cabinet wife had “poured” for which white-gloved ladies in attendance. “I cannot do this wedding alone,” she now told Mr. Brogan. “We need more than one piece out of it—something for tomorrow’s edition, something for the next day, and something for my weekend column. You know, Mr. Brogan, tonight McCarthy and his fiancée are having a buffet supper at some friend’s farm out in Maryland, and thanks to Miss Canby there will be no one present from the Star.”

The city editor continued listening as Miss Beale thrust home. “It’s McCarthy, Mr. Brogan. It may be just a wedding, but surely this spills into your bailiwick—and even Mr. Corn’s. May I please get a little help?”

Brogan looked around thoughtfully, until he spotted Tim, still standing against the filing cabinet. “How about making use of this fine fellow, Miss Beale? He can spell, he’s got a few Hibernian freckles, and he can even sing. Surely he can get the goods on an Irish wedding.”

“How about it, cookie?” Miss Beale asked Tim. “Do you think you can get the names of the people in as many pews as possible? And get as many quotes as they’re willing to sling along with the rice? The reception’s at the Washington Club right afterward. You can go to that, too.”

Tim moved away from the filing cabinet and said sure. It was the only word he’d ever spoken to the still youthful but formidable Miss Beale.

“Good, then,” said Brogan, having settled the matter.

“Better than good,” said Cecil Holland, who’d overheard the exchange. “If Laughlin ever gets hauled in and investigated for anything, he can always say, ‘But, Joe, I was at your wedding, for God’s sake!’ ”

The bottle Miss McGrory had brought in was by now pretty well drained, and a sizable body of those in attendance were thinking about adjourning to the Old Ebbitt Grill over on F Street. Tim’s momentary celebrity earned him an invitation to join the group, but he decided he’d be better off boning up for this opportunity he’d just been given, however late in the game it had come. And so within ten minutes he was on his way home with someone’s copy of the Congressional Directory, the deluxe edition with photographs. He could study the pictures tonight and increase the percentage of guests he’d recognize.

Passing the Old Post Office on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, he was reminded that he’d yet to mail home the letter he’d been carrying around for the past two days. In it he made his job prospects sound a lot rosier than they actually were—but then again, who knew? Maybe this assignment was a portent of better things that might be coming once he left the paper and got back to passing out his résumé, this time in earnest, on Capitol Hill.

Should he go up to Hecht’s and get a new white shirt? The collar was frayed on the only laundered one he had left. No, too expensive, he decided; he would settle for getting his shoes shined at Union Station tonight. Walking along Fifth Street, above Indiana and D, he continued on his career-conscious train of thought, contemplating the signs for lawyers and bondsmen, knowing that the former profession was still too much to aspire to, even if the latter one, like process-serving, now resided in a realm his father had lifted the Laughlins permanently above.

He bought a pint of milk and a sandwich before reaching his room on the Hill, in the two-hundred block of Pennsylvania, one flight above a hardware store. His occupancy was illegal, the lower floors of the building being zoned only for offices, but a landlady with no vacancies a couple of blocks away had tipped him off to the nice Italian owner here, who told him he could have the room cheap and not to worry. It came with a hot plate and tiny icebox, and a hall shower one flight up, where apartments were legal.

Tim always made sure to keep the radio low; he clicked it on now and waited for the tubes to warm up while he poured his glass of milk. A promo for One Man’s Family became audible as he sat down and began to drink.

The job ads from Sunday’s paper were on the table, and for a few minutes he gave them a second, mostly hopeless, look. The “Situations Wanted” had a hierarchy as discernible as the legal pecking order on Fifth Street.

YOUNG MAN, COLORED, desires evening or night work of any kind. Phone LI 8-5198.

After three months down here, the “colored” had ceased to shock; it was the “work of any kind” that now arrested his attention and made him wonder how many weeks might be left before he’d have to consider putting that phrase into an ad of his own.

YOUNG MAN, college education, desires a responsible position. Call WO 6-8202.

Pretty vague, to say the least, but except for the telephone, which he didn’t have, it pretty much matched his own circumstances. He certainly couldn’t compete with the ad just above it:

YOUNG MAN, 27, B.A., Yale, 3 years experience legislative research. 3 yrs. formal legal training, desires position with trade assoc. or law office. Box 61-V. Star.

He wondered if Helen had taken any of these down over the phone.

Setting the paper aside in favor of the Congressional Directory, he decided to put a ruler over the names beneath the pictures. He would see if he could correctly distinguish, say, Prescott Bush (R-Connecticut) from Bourke Hickenlooper (R-Iowa). At least he was familiar with his assignment’s location, having gone to St. Matthew’s last month on the Feast of the Assumption.

He wished he’d done more sightseeing this summer, or just spent a little less time in this room. He had gone to wait outside St. John’s Church one Sunday morning in June, hoping to catch a glimpse of Eisenhower, but a disappointed tourist had told him that Ike was out of town. Everyone waiting by the church had had to settle for watching a small group demonstrate against the Rosenbergs’ execution. There had also been an evening, back in July, when the second-string theater critic had comped him to a production of Major Barbara. They’d gone to see it together, and afterward the man had bought him a drink at the Hotel Washington’s rooftop bar, then walked him all the way home and given him a funny little hug, which he somehow hadn’t minded, even though the man was old enough to be his father and didn’t really live, as he’d claimed, on Capitol Hill.

Excited about tomorrow, but a little restless after half an hour with the Directory, Tim thought he’d like to go out to a movie, but he’d been to see The Robe just last night, a quasi-religious act he’d used, pretty Jesuitically, as an excuse not to go to church this morning. He realized now that Miss Beale hadn’t told him whether Senator McCarthy’s wedding would be just a short ceremony or a whole Mass. If it was the latter, he’d have a legitimate excuse to sleep a little later tomorrow instead of starting his day at the seven o’clock inside St. Peter’s on Second Street. Actually, he’d better go to St. Pete’s either way. Even if it did turn out to be a Mass at St. Matthew’s, he’d be too busy taking notes to line up for the Communion rail.

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Fellow Travelers 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a simply lovely book. It's only the more profound and effective because it evokes a world, not that long past, but that is so thoroughly gone in virtually every sense, and in ways both to be celebrated and lamented. I think the book is most effective at depicting the horrible constraints of a life lived in the closet, and at the same time in capturing the allure and romance of what was once a very much more dangerous kind of way to love. There are some passages here that rank with the all-time best at depicting the heartbreak of unrequited love. A magnificent gem of a book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you like historical fiction, you'll love this. Set in the 1950's during the Joe McCarthy era when communists and gays were being 'identified' and forced out of the government, Mallon gives us believable and effective characters to bring the ugliness of this purging home. The odd love story he tells had me mesmerized. I was crying like a baby at the end. And he gives us what I wish all fiction authors would give us: an epilogue!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a novel, but is a well-researched and fascinating look into the world of closeted gays in government in the 1950s. Younger folks today do not generally realize what it was like back then. This short novel teaches some important history while telling a good story.
HarvReviewer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In his latest book, prominent historical novelist Thomas Mallon turns his attention to Washington, DC in the time of Joseph McCarthy. While that era is best known for McCarthy¿s witch hunt against alleged Communists in the State Department and Army, Mallon¿s novel focuses on the quieter prejudice against gays in government and the lives of two men it transforms.Tim Laughlin, a recent Fordham University graduate, devout Catholic and fervent anti-Communist, arrives in Washington in 1953, at the height of McCarthy¿s power. He spends the summer as an intern at the Washington Star, where a chance meeting with Hawkins Fuller, an official in the State Department¿s Congressional Relations Office, changes his life forever. Only seven years older than Laughlin, Fuller exudes a sexual energy that immediately attracts the younger man to him. Fuller helps secure Laughlin a job in the office of Senator Charles Potter, of Michigan, where Laughlin quickly finds himself embroiled in the political intrigue swirling around McCarthy and his ongoing investigations. The two soon are enmeshed in an intense relationship.Fuller slips in and out of casual gay affairs, even while marrying and fathering a child. Through it all, his relationship with Laughlin waxes and wanes, though it¿s clear Laughlin¿s passion for him is never requited. Laughlin enlists in the Army in 1955 in a vain attempt to overcome his attraction, and when he¿s discharged back to Washington he looks to rekindle their bond, seeking Fuller¿s help in securing a position at the State Department. Fuller¿s response is stunning in its callousness and brutality, and brings the book to an emotionally powerful climax. In scenes blending fictional characters and historical figures such as McCarthy and Roy Cohn, Mallon effectively captures the atmosphere of fear and paranoia that pervaded government during the McCarthy era. He demonstrates equal talent at depicting the casual bigotry of that time toward gays or in portraying high stakes political infighting. Most moving, of course, is his portrait of the relationship between Laughlin and Fuller, especially when seen through Laughlin¿s eyes. For readers who know little of the McCarthy era, Fellow Travelers is a worthy fictional introduction. Those who do will find themselves looking at this troubling time in American history with fresh eyes.
CasualFriday on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thomas Mallon writes historical fiction with an emphasis on American political history. His latest is set in Washington during the McCarthy era, and concerns the relationship between Hawkins Fuller, a waspy State Department official and Timothy Laughlin, a conservative, devoutly Catholic aide to a Republican senator. Homosexuality being considered as much a "security risk" as communism, both men were of course closeted, but Washington was a town of open secrets and politics was a game of "who has what on whom." The political intrigue is absorbing, but the real story is about love, the inability to love, and how the closet distorts lives in the name of family values.
callmecayce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not a big fan of historical fiction or really adult fiction (as opposed to J or YA), but the premise of this book was too interesting to pass up. Fellow Travelers is the story of two men, Tim Laughlin and Hawkins Fuller, and one woman, Mary Johnson during the 1950s. The story focuses on the affair between Tim and Hawkins, and how this affair impacts their lives as well as Mary's -- and the friendship between the three of them. Thomas Mallon's book was fantastic. He writes of a love affair taking place during a period when homosexuality was equated with being a communist. What makes this even more interesting, is that the three characters are all directly involved in the United States Government. Fuller and Johnson work for the State Department, while Laughlin works for a senator. Their stories are intertwined with events surround Joseph McCarthy and his search for communists in the US government. While the writing is pretty much perfect, it's really the story that draws you in. The writing is just what gets you there. From the first chapter to the very end, you know where the story is going. From the back, you know that Fuller and Laughlin will have an affair and you know that eventually, it will all end in tragedy. You just don't know how. All credit to Mallon for keeping us on our toes, for when that tragedy did happen, it actually made me stop reading and stare. This book will not make me read more historical fiction, if only because the books probably wouldn't live up to the high expectations of this book. It might make me go out and read more of Mallon's writing, because this book was quite good.
LSUTiger on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this upon a recommendation from a friend. I'm not really sure why it's gotten such rave reviews. Yes, it is well written, but I didn't find any of the characters sympathetic or redeeming, and the "love story" was disappointing. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that even though there is a payoff in the end, it wasn't enough to warrant the rest of the book in my opinion.
Doondeck on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At times witty and urbane, but a deep sadness through it all. Intersting view of Washington during the McCarthy era.
dbartlett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mallon's novel, set against the backdrop of 1950s Washington during the height of the McCarthy hearings, details the star-crossed love affair of Timothy Laughlin, a young Congressional aide, and Hawkins Fuller, a mid-level State Department official. While the main thrust of McCarthy's hearings was to root out Communists in government, gay men were also considered security risks and were therefore at risk of losing their jobs if found out. Tim is hopelessly in love, while Fuller uses Tim at his own convenience. Tim finally joins the Army in order to distance himself from Fuller, while Fuller eventually marries and has a child. While the relationship between the two men is the central part of the story, there is lots of information about the political climate of the time, with McCarthy himself one of the characters involved. Another character, Mary Johnson, another State Department employee, also has a lesser role in the storyline as she deals with her own romantic issues and tries to be a friend to Tim. Enjoyable and well written.
carlosmock More than 1 year ago
Fellow Travelers by Thomas Mallon The book opens on October 15, 1991, when Mary Johnson Russell tells Zachariah Hawkins Fuller that his love interest of the 1950's, Timothy (Tim, Skippy) Patrick Laughlin has died. Then we have a flashback to their story. From September 1953 to May 1957, Mr. Mallon narrates how the lives of these three are interconnected. Timothy Laughlin is a recent Fordham graduate and devout Catholic eager to join the crusade against Communism. A chance encounter with a handsome, profligate State Department official, Hawkins Fuller, leads to Tim’s first job in D.C. and -– after Fuller’s advances -- his first love affair. Tim and Fuller find it ever more dangerous to navigate their double lives. Drawn into a maelstrom of deceit and intrigue, and clinging to the friendship of a beautiful young woman named Mary Johnson, Tim struggles to reconcile his political convictions, his love for God, and his love for Fuller –- an entanglement that will end in a stunning act of betrayal. All of this is set in the 50's in McCarthy era Washington, D.C. where being gay was the only worst thing after being a communist. The book reads like a diary -- chapters have dates -- and it tries to narrate the plot from the third person point of view, not very well. Trying to inject as much detail of the comings and goings of Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s, the main three characters become lost in the gossip. I had trouble identifying with any of them, and, at times, they came through as caricatures. There was too much detail of people that I had no idea who they were, and for whom I did not care. I would have preferred less detail on the politics and more on our main characters. The book is a slow tedious read, even though it paints a realistic vision of the era where most gays married women -- like Hawkins -- to survive or simply vanished away in anonymity -- like Tim.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago