Giovanni at Fifty

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It never occurred to me that Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room might seem dated given the wonderful sparkle of his prose. A columnist goes in search of what it meant - once upon a time thankfully gone:

“For a gay - but still very closeted - teenager in the late 1950s and early 1960s, any hint of homosexuality in literature was eagerly sought after and hungrily devoured,” wrote Larry Gross, a former Philadelphian who now directs the School of Communication at the University of Southern California.

Ed Hermance, owner of Giovanni’s Room, the gay bookstore at 12th and Pine, noted: “Remarkably, the tragedy is not that the characters are gay, but that one of them is unable to admit - even to himself - that he loves another man.”

Giovanni’s Room at 50

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