Los Angeles Times Book Prize: Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction Ferro-Grumley Award for Distinction in Gay Writing Infused with desire, betrayal, and healing, Mark Merils writes with dark humor of gay life in this century. Meet Reeve who thinks his life is over: his career is at an end and his landlord is evicting him because he made too much noise when a hustler beat him up. As he lies in his hospital bed, he finds himself brooding about the parallel ruin of his mentor Tom Slater, a famous American literary scholar. There is the further distraction of the patient in the next bed, a silent youth who arouses the desire in Reeve for straight men. One of the finest first novels to appear in many a moon. Its simple, noble, graceful prose refreshes the very language, and its unsquinting portrayal of gay men is searing and authentic. Merlis's novel belongs to the best of contemporary literature, gay or other. - Library Journal Mark Merlis's first novel accomplishes that great thing that gives fiction its claim on truth: It creates a world so real that readers believe they live in it...This is a book that transcends genre in portraying the abyss that divides one ostracized human soul from all others. - Los Angeles Times The power of this novel is in Merlis's writerly skill (his fiercely perfect timing, his flawless, always believable diction), in his comprehension of American cultural history, and ultimately in his human wisdom...With this novel, gay literature enters maturity. - James White Review Stunningly good...Haunting, funny, and masterfully written, American Studies provides keen insight into our own history and our lives. -- Genre Desolating, bitterly comic, beautifully written...an eye-opening and heart-opening book. - Richard Wilbur
About the Author: Mark Merlis's novels include American Studies, about a closeted literature professor in the McCarthy era; An Arrow's Flight, a riff on the Philoctetes myth, set simultaneously in the ancient and modern worlds; and Man About Town, a tale about politics and growing older set in Washington, DC. His most recent novel, JD, was published by the University of Wisconsin Press in spring 2015. Merlis's work has won the Los Angeles Times book prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Ferro-Grumley award for distinction in gay writing.