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Spanbauer, Tom (b. 1946?)  
page: 1  2  

Although The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon challenges the received mythology of the West to expose an ugly reality, it is a book as vital as it is disturbing. The magical language and fully realized characters impart to the novel a poetic quality that has made it a cult classic.

After writing The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, Spanbauer moved to Portland, Oregon. There he started Dangerous Writers, a private writer's workshop that has gained notoriety for its insistence that its participants probe taboo topics that get at a writer's core sense of self.

As Emily Chenoweth notes, in these workshops Spanbauer encourages his students "to find 'the sore place' in themselves and use it for their fiction." His methods have proven popular among a number of Northwest writers, many of whom have gone on to be quite successful. Perhaps the most famous among them is Chuck Palahniuk.

In the decade following the success of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, Spanbauer worked on his third novel, In the City of Shy Hunters, which he published in 2001.

Although it has not yet achieved the same cult status as his second novel, In the City of Shy Hunters is in some ways a more personal work. Tracing the experience of Will Parker, a young man raised on an Indian reservation who moves to New York City in search of his blood brother and first lover, Charlie Two Moons, the novel is set in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. It reflects many of Spanbauer's earlier interests, but pursues them in a contemporary setting and offers a gritty portrait of the dispossessed in the midst of a mystifying pandemic.

As the time it took Spanbauer to write the novel suggests, this story was in many ways a difficult one to tell. In interviews, the author acknowledges that writing it almost killed him.

In 1996, Spanbauer was diagnosed with AIDS when he went to a doctor for what he thought was the flu. Since then he has struggled to make sense of the disease and its effects on his life.

As he explains, "Why I almost died is because I took a good long look at this virus and the death and anguish it caused. I lived with it every day for years, then came down with it myself. I went to a place so dark it is unspeakable."

And yet as unspeakable as this pain was, Spanbauer used the writing of In the City of Shy Hunters to make sense of his loss. Moreover, he credits writing the novel for perhaps being "the thing that saved my ass," for "the desire to tell the true story as clearly as I knew how kept me going."

Spanbauer continues to write. In 2006, he published a new novel, Now Is the Hour. In this work, he returns to Idaho in the 1960s and describes the life of Rigby John Kluesner, a gay seventeen-year-old, as he hitchhikes to San Francisco. Fleeing his Roman Catholic upbringing and the mores of Pocatello, the young man embarks on a journey to self-discovery.

Geoffrey W. Bateman

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literature >> Overview:  AIDS Literature

In the twenty years since its first appearance in the West, AIDS has been the subject of a large body of literature, most of it written by gay men and much of it designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic and the suffering of affected individuals.

literature >> Overview:  Bisexual Literature

Although Western culture's reliance upon binary systems of classification and identification has meant the practical erasure of bisexuality, as such, from literary and cultural analysis, bisexual experiences appear in many literary works from ancient times to the present.

social sciences >> Overview:  Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons)

The socially and politically conservative Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long been antagonistic to the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people.

literature >> Overview:  Historical Fiction

Glbtq historical fictions creatively interweave fiction with facts in ways that have not only won them a large readership but also have offered that readership insightful illuminations of glbtq histories.

literature >> Overview:  Native North American Literature

From the two-spirits of traditional culture to contemporary writers, Native North Americans have produced a considerable body of gay and lesbian literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon is home to a thriving and increasingly visible queer community that has provided leadership for Oregon glbtq activism since the 1960s.

arts >> Eichelberger, Ethyl

An influential figure in experimental theater, writer and drag performer Ethyl Eichelberger is most remembered for his repertoire of self-penned solo plays based on the lives of the great women of history, literature, and myth.

literature >> Palahniuk, Chuck

Chuck Palahniuk is known for a series of popular and provocative novels; although he has acknowledged his homosexuality, he resists being labeled as a "gay author."


Chenoweth, Emily. "The Mother Load." Publishers Weekly (May 22, 2006): 22-23.

Spanbauer, Tom. "To the Graduating Class of W+K 12. Thank You." Communication Arts 48 (2006): 242-246.

"Tom Spanbauer." Contemporary Authors Online (April 9, 2003): http://galenet./

Young, Bo. "Shy Hunter: Tom Spanbauer Talks with Bo Young on the Ambivalence of Virtues and Vice." White Crane Journal 64 (2006):


    Citation Information
    Author: Bateman, Geoffrey W.  
    Entry Title: Spanbauer, Tom  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2006  
    Date Last Updated October 25, 2007  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2006 glbtq, Inc.  


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