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The Novel "Running in Bed" Revisits Gay New York of the 1970s & 1980s

 

I'm not a big book reader but I just finished reading one that had me captivated.  The book is Running in Bed.   No, it's not a sequel to Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors, but rather the semi-autobiographical debut novel by Jeffrey Sharlach which arrived in bookstores a few weeks ago (Spring 2012).  It recounts the life of gay protagonist Josh Silver during his early years as an adult living in New York between 1977-1987.  It touches upon coming out, work life, sex, romance, and the AIDS crisis.

 

Running_in_bed

 

Since I often write about my own memories and experiences on my blogs, it was refreshing to read someone else's, especially since the character Josh's experiences were somewhat similar to mine, e.g., we both moved to New York in the late '70s to work in advertising, and we lived in Greenwich Village.  One big difference was that he immediately took a summer share in the Pines, while I waited until the mid-1990s.  

 

Christopherstreet

 

 

Stmarks_baths

 

The novel mentions a lot of familiar places, e.g., Sandolino's restaurant; Uncle Charlie's Bar; Balducci's; Company restaurant;, the Ice Palace disco on 57th St.; Driftwood Walk in the Pines, et al.  However, although the story begins during the hedonistic, sex-fueled late '70s, Josh doesn't explore the baths or Fire Island's Meat Rack, which were rights of passage for many gay men back then - and key plot devices in Larry Kramer's and Andrew Holleran's acclaimed novels Faggots and Dancer from the Dance, respectively.

 

 

70s_gaymen_nyc

 

The story would have benefited from more scrupulous fact checking.  For instance: 

  • The disco hits I Will Survive, Ring my Bell and Move on Up were popular in 1979, not 1978. 
  • The Monster bar/disco on Grove St. in Greenwich Village wasn't around in December 1979.  It opened its doors in 1982.
  • The royal wedding of Prince Charles and Diana didn't occur on a weekend, but on a Wednesday.  (However, Diana's funeral was held on a Saturday.)
  • The entire winter of 1982 wasn't mild, since January 1982 was, in fact, one of the ten coldest Januarys of the 20th century.     

 

Nonetheless, despite these quibbles, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book and found it time well spent.

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