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[151] The Dreyfus Affair – Peter Lefcourt

If Randy Dreyfus ever felt any confusion about the basic choreography of the sex act with another man, it dissolved instantly. As he stood watching his friend, he could see clearly how one would proceed if one wanted to.” [77]

Although exploring the similar theme of gay athlete and sports, The Dreyfus Affair, often looked upon as a more upbeat and funnier literary clone to the post-Stonewall classics The Front Runner (reviewed earlier), is even more provocative and engrossing a read that satirizes the subtle and insidious violation of human rights and dignity on the basis of sexuality. Combining romance, comedy, and baseball writing (so informative of baseball terms and jargons of which I was ignorant), the book, in a contemptuous tone, exposes how backward and hypocritical this country is. America would frantically jump at the first opportunity to act as moral guardian to human rights abroad and yet it is turning its back on liberty and justice at home.

Randy Dreyfus is the rising star who is aspiring to be a MVP. He is the hottest shortstop in the major leagues, happily married to a beautiful woman, and has a shopping center in Van Nuys named after him. Yet something very upsetting afflicts him—the more he tries to banish it from his conscious thoughts, the more intensely it encroaches him. No matter how adamantly he denies his feeling, Randy knows it is more than just deep-seated admiration. He has been teammate with D.J. Pickett for three years—spending a lot of time on the road, on planes, in hotels, in clubhouses. Their exchange is no more than perfunctory pleasantry and prep-talk for the game.

“So now you drag me up to a Chinese restaurant sixty miles out of town to ask me what my mother’s maiden name is.” [39]

Randy tries to ignore the thought, which at times nudges to the dangerous realm of forbidden, lustful, felonious acts between two men. But the thought does not peter out, it only intensifies. Come to terms with who he is. So the therapist advises. Randy only laments at the revelation that all his life he has twisted his insides up to deny what his real nature is. While teammates and sportwriter find themselves watching Randy spend great deal of time stealing looks at the second baseman, Susie Dreyfus ponders at the identity of a handkerchief’s owner. The private detective whom she commissions to unveil the secret affair only returns with clues that further mystify the case. Sudden surge of desire, sudden loss of control—give away to their affection in the wrong place at the wrong time. The scandal stirs up a maelstrom of controversies and bevy of jokes. Love becomes the whole nation’s business.

Amidst the gamut of media that frantically clamber for a piece of the hot cake, is the wrath of the old baseball bigots and homophobes who fear acquiescence to the players’ relationship will bring upon the league’s demise. Their so-called disciplinary actions is countered by a diatribe written by a fed-up sportwriter who accuses all parties involved in persecuting two citizens whose only crime is falling in love. The most touching part, almost like an antithesis to all the public outcry, is how the wife, who is afflicted by a chaotic tangle of contradictions, embraces the situation with magnanimity that demonstrates unconditional love.

13 Responses

  1. Hmm … I should read this one some day.

  2. Jef:
    I esteem this one higher than The Front Runner. The writing is first-rate, very sarcastic and funny. You might be able to finish in one sitting. 🙂

  3. Come to terms with who he is.

    This sentence alone convinces me to pick this book up to read it. So eloquent and thoughtful of a review, as usual.

  4. Matthew,
    Excellent review–pointing out just enough to the viewers of this blog to catch their interest. In addition to the writing style, cultural and social aspects of this story, I must state that this book is just plain hysterically funny! I was flying back on a plane from Houston to SFO 15 years ago and I could not stop laughing out loud–receiving many glaring and curious looks from my fellow passengers. Upon finishing the book, I just started at Chapter 1 again. I was afraid I might have missed a delicious morsel in this story! Great movie potential–in the right hands. I think I have to re-read it again.

  5. Count me in as a fan of this one as well. I tend to put in the guilty pleasure column, but your review reminds me that it does have something important to say.

    Plus, it’s lots of fun along the way.

  6. John:
    That pretty much summarizes the whole book. I have qualm about not understanding the baseball jargon and so jar the whole reading experience. But what really touches me is how much the characters are willing to stick it out for one another. The writing is very good, and the humor is pervasive. 😉

  7. Rick:
    Thanks you pointing this book to me. Believe it or not, The Dreyfus Affair could easily be one of the best books I have read this year and one of the most touching in the genre. On many occasions I couldn’t help laughing out loud and hope nobody comes for office hour so I can find out what’s happening next. The writing style is so casual and funny but retains a literary flair. One thing though, I expected the story to end in Maine where they have gone fishing. But oh well… 😉

  8. CB James:
    I didn’t expect the book would turn out to be such a great read given the fact that I usually don’t read sports writing and that it is another cheesy gay love story. But it’s not that cheesy. It’s got a lot of depth in what one has to sacrifice for one really values. 🙂

  9. […] West The Uncommon Reader Alan Bennett A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian Marina Lewycka The Dreyfus Affair Peter Lefcourt Kansas in August Patrick […]

  10. […] The Dreyfus Affair, Peter Lefcourt. Combining romance, comedy, and baseball writing, the book, in a contemptuous tone, […]

  11. […] …GLBT Literature … on [157] Landing – Emma…GLBT Literature … on [151] The Dreyfus Affair …GLBT Literature … on [148] The Front Runner […]

  12. Love this book. I’ve owned it for years and reread it often. I’m actually reading it now as part of the LGBT reading challenge for 2010. I was nice to read a review of it.

  13. […] The two sports-related books I read were fiction: The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren and The Dreyfus Affair by Peter Lefcourt. By coincidence they both involve a gay relationship. As for during sports […]

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