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Picano, Felice (b. 1944)  
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In an interview with Richard Canning, Picano revealed the impetus behind the book's creation: "Something I'd noticed, going around the country doing readings, is that we'd not only lost the bulk of my generation of American gay men; we'd also lost the history. I saw these bright, young people who'd grown up in what was essentially a gay world. They had no idea how they'd gotten there. There was interest. But not many people like to read history books. So I thought . . . I could make this a history book and also a story about the various lives gay men led in the past and how different these were--not only from now, but from each other."

The novel met with mixed, although mostly encouraging, reviews. A critic for Publishers Weekly cited for particular attention Picano's "memorable characters" and "wonderfully dishy dialogue." Charles Harmon, in his review for Booklist, felt that the novel was less an epic than a "beach book," although he also conceded that Like People in History "succeeds as a story that doesn't take itself too seriously."

Like People in History won several awards, including a Lambda Literary Award nomination, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Gay Male Fiction, Le Figaro Littéraire Citation for Best Foreign Book of the Year, and a Gay Times of England Award for Best Gay Novel of the Year.

Also in 1995, Picano published Dryland's End, a science fiction epic, which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy. Three years later saw the publication of Looking Glass Lives (1998), a contemporary gothic thriller about reincarnation.

His next novel, The Book of Lies (1999), is a story of academic intrigue loosely based on the Violet Quill group (renamed the "Purple Circle" in Picano's novel). David Lipsky, writing in the New York Times Book Review, observed that "Even readers who aren't familiar with the real writers evoked in this roman à clef will be aware that scores are being settled, family snapshots are being passed around and that a pointed, aching nostalgia is being expressed for the pre-AIDS world of clubs, glitzy vacations and the glories of the anonymous pickup."

Picano's most recent novel is Onyx (2001), set in 1992, which focuses on Ray as he ministers to his long-term lover rapidly succumbing to the ravages of AIDS, while embarking on a new physical relationship, endorsed by his lover, with a married man confused about his own sexual desires. Publishers Weekly found the novel "Striking in its bold depictions of both pleasure and pain . . . taking a fresh angle on familiar themes of love and death, and manifesting greater insight in its musings about living and loss during the traumatic years of the AIDS epidemic."

Memoirs by Felice Picano

Picano has authored several volumes of memoirs, beginning with Ambidextrous: The Secret Lives of Children (1985), about growing up in 1950s suburbia, and continuing with Men Who Loved Me: A Memoir in the Form of a Novel (1989), which covers the mid-1960s and Picano's early adulthood, including his friendship with the poet W.H. Auden.

In 1997, Picano published the third volume of his memoirs, A House on the Ocean, a House on the Bay, which recounts his literary successes and romantic struggles set against the heady pre-AIDS gay scene of Manhattan and Fire Island. Richard Violette, in his review for Library Journal, called Picano "a leading light in the gay literary world," and added, "his glints of flashing wit and subtle hints of dark decadence transcend clichés."

In 2005, Picano authored another, slighter memoir, Fred in Love, an affectionate portrait of his pet cat, Fred, whom Picano first encountered in the early 1970s.

His most recent memoir, Art and Sex in Greenwich Village: Gay Literary Life after Stonewall (2007), focuses primarily on Picano's role in the founding of SeaHorse Press and the Gay Presses of New York. Catherine Texier, in the New York Times Book Review, observed "Picano has assembled a tremendously entertaining collection of anecdotes and portraits that only a witness (and a good writer) could report in such vivid detail."

Other Works by Felice Picano

Picano has also written a great deal of short fiction, poetry, and plays, as well as a considerable amount of nonfiction.

His short fiction has been collected in Slashed to Ribbons in Defense of Love and Other Stories (1983), and The New York Years: Stories (2000).

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