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All Or Nothing

All Or Nothing - Dirk Vanden There's something about books written about gays in the preAIDS days. I often wonder how guys today view the orgies with their total disregard for safe sex. Do they feel envious?"All or Nothing" is a parallel book to "I Want it All" The first chapters cover the same territory but seen through different eyes.Dirk Vanden hasn't written a romance, more the observations of a guy coming out in that era. Being a painter himself, Dirk has a very observant eye. He remarked to me in an email "My head works differently somehow. I see “more” than other people. I don’t know what that means. I’ve always thought of it as “paying attention.” Here's an example:They were all fascinating to watch—the way most of them tried to look so casual; they really worked at it, leaning against the wall, or the bar, or the pool table in the alcove, in just the right stray gleam of light to show off their “baskets.” (I learned many new words that night.) They were posing in every sense of the word—some of them not just for a possible “trick” but for themselves; I got the feeling that if anything happened to disturb the pose, they wouldn’t be able to function until they got back into it. Once again, he is also not afraid to make some statements about being gay and what it means:At any rate, I learned that night that there were almost as many “types” as there were gay men. Apparently something had changed since I’d first heard about “fairies.” and remember this was written back in the seventies.He has some interesting takes on marriage too:Maybe someday the laws and ideas about marriage will change also, and when that happens, maybe it won’t be impossible to have both a wife and a family and a male lover-friend, all at the same time. and earlier in a description that parallels his own relationship with his partner who died in the AIDS epidemic“Gay marriages just don’t work, Bill. The only ones that do are where they’re not really lovers, you know? Not in the sense of a husband and wife at least. They’re friends. Each one does his own thing for sex, but they live together as friends. This is backed up by his thoughts about why his marriage didn't work.(the) part of the female personality that, to me, made females unattractive—a blind preoccupation with two people getting together in a “marriage” and devoting their entire lives to it.In some ways this book is years before its time. His website describes the way he was treated by his publisher and one wonders how he would have been received if he submitted something like this to Dreamspinner Press or even MLR.Once again, for those who are interested in what it was like being gay, books like this are a great way to find out and get an authentic picture not a stereotype.