Friday, November 4, 2022

Lev AC Rosen

Lev Rosen writes books for people of all ages, most recently Lavender House, which the New York Times says “movingly explores the strain of trying to pass as straight at a time when living an authentic life could be deadly.” His prior novel, Camp, was a best book of the year from Forbes, Elle, and The Today Show, amongst others. He lives in NYC with his husband and a very small cat.

Recently I asked the author about what he was reading. Rosen's reply:

I've been reading Joseph Hansen's David Brandstetter series, which was just re-issued. They begin with Fadeout, and follow an insurance investigator in California in the 70s (technically I think the first one was published in 69?). The series lasted a while, but is generally forgotten, possibly because Brandstetter, the detective character, is gay. Not much is made of it, though obviously the homophobia of the time is sometimes part of the story. He often encounters other queer folks on his cases, too. But the excitement of reading a queer mystery written over fifty years ago aside, the books are also just gorgeous. Beautifully written. There's still one sentence from I think the second book in the series, which I finished months ago, that I still remember, if not perfectly. Something like "Silence filled the room, but a typewriter was snipping holes in it." Just stunning stuff like that. And on top of that really well crafted mysteries, noir, but not the bloody, beat-em-up noir that you think of from that time - more like earlier noir: Chandler, Hammett. Brandstetter is smart and nosy and incredibly honest, just not always with himself. At the opening of the first book, his longtime boyfriend has just died, so watching him sort of unfold from that alongside his cases is just a beautiful character study in finding joy amid darkness. Really just stunning books, can't recommend them enough.
Visit Lev AC Rosen's website.

The Page 69 Test: Camp.

--Marshal Zeringue