OVER THE PAST few decades, Jim Grimsley has emerged as something of a star in the world of literary gay fiction. He first burst upon the scene in 1994 with Winter Birds, a harrowing look at an abusive family situation, and soon thereafter came out with Dream Boy (1995), a dreamlike story about a teenage boy’s obsession with another boy who may or may not be real. Other first-rate books like Boulevard, My Drowning, and Comfort and Joy ensued, as well as plays and a memoir, establishing him as one of his generation’s most notable gay writers.
Sexuality is nearly always newly emergent and tentative in Grimsley’s novels, with gay sexuality presented as something that asserts itself against strong social pressures. Similarly, an attraction to the forbidden—as well as the very real threat of violence or even death—nearly always hovers at the edge. Grimsley’s tenth novel, The Dove in the Belly, is a worthy but somewhat problematical work that ostensibly shares the theme of Dream Boy and Boulevard, that of a timid, newly out gay man who becomes obsessed with an apparently straight man, with the possibility of violence ever present.