Rick Whitaker introduces the essays in his new book, The First Time I Met Frank O’Hara: Reading Gay American Writers, by suggesting that a writer’s sexuality may influence not only what he writes, but also how he writes. While this is nothing new in the realm of literary inquiries, it’s a worthy question and will snag the attention of many readers.
Our sexuality undoubtedly does influence how we create our poems and stories, but Whitaker provides few lasting or groundbreaking observations on this score. What he has succeeded in doing, while a less ambitious project, is to set forth one gay man’s smart, easily digestible reactions to the gay American writers he’s come to love. In this sense, it is a fairly engaging “reading journal,” though it rarely rises to the level of “literary criticism.”