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LGBTQ Fiction
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Independent Press Award

2024 Distinguished Favorite

Castro Street Blues: A Covid Comedy of Gay San Francisco

Jack Fritscher

This amuse-bouche gay pop-culture novel of arts, ideas, and history, packed with comic dish, is a meta-fiction memoir told by a marvelously unreliable third-person narrator. The "coming-out novel" meets the "elder-exit novel" in the circle of life when the closet of quarantine disrupts a happily married couple aging in place.

The longtime husbands are representative men, survivors of gay history, from their coming out into the homophobia of the 1950s to their rowdy post-Stonewall life of fifty years in San Francisco before retiring to the Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate Bridge. Quarantined there, they watch online news of thousands of Covid refugees and renters fleeing the City, creating the most empty downtown in America, turning their once fabulous Castro gayborhood into a ghost town.

Covid depression is the worst room in the best hotel of gay life. With the sinking feeling of drowning men, they see their pre-Covid queer life flashing before their eyes in slow-motion homosurreal memory scenes of magical realism, late-night noir films, and their own video diaries of friends lost to AIDS. Having survived isolation in the closet and the viral AIDS years, the veterans of the midcentury gay liberation wars, surveying their personal history, struggle forward on their gay heroic journey through the dark cave of Covid vowing never to surrender to the PTSD many gay men carry from years of homophobia.

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