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David Leavitt Biography

(1961– ), Family Dancing, A Place I've Never Been Before, The Lost Language of Cranes

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mary Lavin Biography to Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

American writer, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; he grew up in California, and was educated at Yale. His two collections of stories, Family Dancing (1984), which has been praised for its evocative studies of modern American family life, and A Place I've Never Been Before (1990), earned him a reputation as a fashionable minimalist. His first novel, The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), is expansive in structure and style, and deals with the complex, often tormented relationship of a father and son, both homosexual. (Gay life in the post-AIDS world also surfaces as a theme or sub-plot in Leavitt's short fiction.) Though the portrayal of the son fits fairly easily into the conventions of gay fiction of the 1980s, it is in his depiction of the father, a middle-aged married man uneasily coming to terms with his sexual nature and forced to seek advice from his son, that Leavitt displays uncommon perception and breaks new ground. Equal Affections (1989) returns to the theme of homosexuality and the family: here one of the leading female protagonists is gay.

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