Merlis Examines America Before Stonewall in ‘Studies’

Mark Merlis' 'American Studies.'

Mark Merlis’ ‘American Studies.’

A heart-wrenching book about love, loyalty, betrayal and the cruel repercussions of pursuing love in a society that seeks to suppress its expression.
Merlis parallels the stories of two men leading very different lives during the early 1950s: an aging, closeted professor and his more open protege, both of whom suffer devastating consequences as a result of their sexual orientation. One faces extortion during the McCarthy-era witch hunts, the other becomes a victim of violent crime in the post-Reagan years. Both have lived much of their lives trying to conceal their homosexuality in order to protect their social positions, jobs and reputations — as well as to avoid the criminal prosecution they could be subject to when their paths cross in the 1950s.
Merlis poignantly portrays a pre-Stonewall world in which aging gay men face few choices for love and companionship that aren’t accompanied by elements of danger. The author creates profound empathy for his characters even while pointing out their corruptive behaviors and sometimes craven attempts at feeling fully human.

Mark Merlis

Mark Merlis

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