First off, in appreciating Barry's writing, you really need to understand the man and his times. Now 63, Barry was "out" in the days when homosexuality was illegal.Those were the days when if you were gay you had to hide it. Sex was furtive fumblings in the fringes: seedy clubs, dark alleys, cars, toilet blocks, parks, the beats. It would have felt like them against the world; many men would have been almost suspicious of any kindness or suggestion there could be anything more.Secondly, it's important to understand that Barry doesn't write m/m romance. He writes gay erotica and originally wrote them for men only. So included in his stories are many sexual practices that most women find it difficult to stomach. Licking up semen off dirty floors, multiple partners, sex without affection, heck in some ways the less affection there was, the more some guys liked it.They almost felt they didn't deserve any more. Society had been bashing them over the head with the message that their attraction for another man was wrong, so if that man bashed them over the head in the process of having sex, well that was to be expected wasn't it?"Love and the Odor of Red Leatherette" is probably one of the easiest of Barry's books to get into. In it, the character discovers to his suprise that there may be a future for men beyond the anonymous sexual gropings. That there can be tenderness and affection too. Till then he had been:still too young, too green, to realize just how much I was being used. But it wasn’t like I wasn’t getting any pleasure out of it. I was. In buckets. Given that Barry has been with his partner now for 38 years, if the story has any relationship to truth, then that chance hook up must have been providential.Don't look for romance in his stories, look for the nitty gritty (and sometimes it will be gritty).Underneath the rough, tough, sarcastic exterior there is a wistful desire that things would have been, could have been different. But there is a need for survivors to chronicle the situation as it really was.Barry writes short stories. Often deliberately so for inclusion in magazines, anthologies. There is not time for emotional or even plot arcs. He is describing a situation, an attitude, making a point.Since the advent of ebooks and his discovery that women read m/m Barry may be tempted to change the tone of his books, soften them. In a way that would be a pity.Instead of reviewers wishing this book could be different, read and learn what life was like. Being a homosexual in those times was anything but easy. Only the tough survived.