Banis, Victor J. “Longhorns”, Carroll& Graf, 2007.
The Wild, “Gay” West
Victor Banis is a gay literary icon. He was one on the early authors in the 50’s and 60’s and was instrumental in pushing gay literature forward. His output has been tremendous and book after book came from him in the 60’s, although under many different noms de plume. Until recently he has been out of print and he has put himself into a form of exile from publishing anything new. The good news is that he is back with a wonderful new book about the old West. This plus the fact that much of his other work is being reissued is a cause to celebrate and it is so good to have him back.
“Longhorns” is a wonderful read and it has something for everyone. The characters are fun; there is hot sex, a struggle with sexuality and a search for identity. The prose captures the reader on the first page and it is easy to place oneself into the story. There is “true grit’ and good spirits in a believable story of two men who fall in love. It is a realistic story filled with humor and very erotic in sections.
Les is the boss of the Double H Ranch and he spends a great deal of time on the range herding cattle. When a young cowboy suddenly rides into his midst, Buck, things take a turn, as he upsets everything Les feels what a cowboy should be and how he should act. From the moment the two men meet. Buck is set upon getting into Les’ pants. The two men are complete opposites. Les is tall, blonde and broad and has led a solitary life for years. Buck is young, small and dark with a sense of self certainty and immediately beguiles and discomforts Les with off color stories and sexual references. Because they are shorthanded and Les needs help, he hires Buck who manages to impress his boss with the adroit way in which he works. Buck secretly pines for Les but the boss wants nothing to do with the hired hand.
This is a love story which introduces us to a bunch of tough cowboys none of whom classify themselves as gay but still taking care of their sexual urges with each other. Buck shows that, even though he is gay, he is no sissy. He, nevertheless, is set upon winning the heart of his boss and whether he does or not, you will have to read the book to find out.
“Longhorns” is the tale of two men who are meant to be together and Banis weaves a story that delights. As he balances colloquialisms and rich language, we are there with the cowboys and we watch as the two men come to terms with each other.
“Longhorns” is easy and relaxing to read and makes the reader wonder where Banis has been and why has it been so long since we have heard from him. It is good to have him back and we ca only hope that he has more on tap for us.