In 1991, Tom Spanbauer X-ed his spot on the literary map with The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, a boisterous, bawdy romp through an alternative Old West peopled by uptight Mormons, big-hearted whores, and one unforgettable bisexual Indian. The book became an immediate cult classic and stands today alongside Little Big Man as one of the best comic westerns ever written. Spanbauer's impatient fans were made to wait a full decade, though, for another novel. Lucky for them, it was worth it. In the City of Shy Hunters tells the story of William Parker, a small town boy who is as sexually gifted (anatomically speaking) as he is sexually confused. Like many before him, Will hopes to find himself in the big city and flees to New York. Though his timing is off he lands in the Big Apple at the dawn of the AIDS epidemic Will does eventually find what he is looking for. He falls in love with a towering black drag queen named Rose, who teaches him about life, love, and this is an AIDS novel death. Epic, operatic, melancholy, and hilarious, In the City of Shy Hunters gives the same Spanbauerian twist to eighties New York that The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon did to the Wild West. Farley, Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
For ten years, critics and readers have been eagerly anticipating the next novel from Tom Spanbauer, one of the most brilliant, inventive writers in America today.
In the City of Shy Hunters is Spanbauer's most ambitious work to date. Set against the stark urban landscapes of Manhattan in the 1980s, the novel offers a vivid portrait of New York's fascinating demimonde of junkies and drag queens on the verge of its collapse, just as AIDS is starting to decimate the city's gay population. In the City of Shy Hunters opens in 1983, when William Parker, Spanbauer's most memorable and winning character yet, moves from Jackson Hole to Manhattan, desperate to escape the provincialism of the small western towns in which he has spent his entire life. Impotent, afflicted with a stutter, and struggling with his sexuality, Will is shy and insecure. In New York he finds himself surrounded for the first time by people who understand and celebrate his quirks and flaws. As he slowly learns to accept himself, he becomes wrapped up in one of the most unforgettable romances in recent literature, a love affair with a volatile, six-foot-five African-American drag queen and performance artist named Rose. But even as he grows close to Rose and the others, Will must watch as they are taken from him as AIDS grows from a rumor into a full-scale epidemic. Meanwhile, tension is also mounting between the police and the squatters in his local park until a vicious riot breaks out, providing Will with an opportunity for a heroic, transcendent act that will leave readers shaken, fulfilled, and changed.
"An expertly drawn, starkly authentic, early-1980s Manhattan provides the setting for this sprawling novel by Spanbauer (The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon)....This is a big, brazen, histrionic work of fiction, one that pays respectable, if unsentimental, homage to a devastating period in gay history." Publishers Weekly
"One can't help being leery of this latest work from Spanbauer. Is it just another AIDS story concerning the early plague years? But after a few pages one realizes that it is not....Unlike other 'early AIDS' novels, this one acknowledges that AIDS touches all classes, races, religions, and sexual orientations. Excellent characters (real New Yorkers), great writing, and a new twist on an over-used plot recommend this book...." Library Journal
"Sexual abuse, incest, pansexualism, and Native American spirituality explored so well by Spanbauer in the cult favorite The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon (1991) combine with earlyAIDS-era New York for a work that's utterly fresh....A haunting and undeniably powerful work..." Kirkus
"In the City of Shy Hunters
is so finely crafted, Spanbauer's characters so true to life, the New York City he remembers from the early days of the plague so exactly captured in its 'unrelenting' mess and glory, you'll think you've been reading a modernist classic by the time you're through, rather than the latest entry in an artificial, post-post genre." Peter Kurth, Salon.com
(read the entire Salon review
When William Parker moves from Jackson Hole to Manhattan in 1983, he becomes wrapped up in one of the most unforgettable romances in recent literature: a love affair with a volatile, six-foot-five African-American drag queen named Rose.
Tom Spanbauer is one of the most enchanting writers in America today, and In the City of Shy Hunters, his first novel in ten years, is a "rich and colorful" portrait of New York in the 1980s, told with "raw power" (David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle). Shy, afflicted with a stutter, and struggling with his sexuality, Will Parker comes to New York to escape the provincial western towns where he grew up. In New York, he finds himself surrounded for the first time by people who understand and celebrate his quirks and flaws. He also begins an unforgettable love affair with a volatile, six-foot-five African-American drag queen and performance artist named Rose. But even as he is falling in love with Rose and growing into himself, Will must watch as AIDS escalates from a rumor into a devastating tragedy. When a vicious riot erupts in a local park, Will seizes the chance to repay the city for all it has taught him, in a climax that will leave readers shaken, fulfilled, and changed. "In the City of Shy Hunters is so finely crafted ... you'll think you've been reading a modernist classic." -- Peter Kurth, Salon.com "Spanbauer's genius resides even in the asides ... teas[ing] out the genuine complexity of human love." -- Thomas McGonigle, The Washington Post Book World "Ambitious and compelling ... a mixture of the ghastly, the hilarious, and the curiously touching." -- John Hartl, The Seattle Times "In the City of Shy Hunters has the earmarks of a literary landmark ... Its importance and originality are unmistakable." -- Laura Demanski, The Baltimore Sun