...and once more with the squeeing. I got a copy of Josh Lanyon's The White Knight by coming up with a relatively thorough list of what the characters in his books drink. (Here's the link: http://dikladiesrule.blogspot.com/2009/04/libations-with-lbea-and-lanyon.html) Some of them consume amazing quantities and varieties of alcohol. A couple of them drink to a similar extent as Victor Bayne's drug consumption, for a comparison.
The first book in this series is The Dark Horse, which I had read several months ago. My favorite thing in that book was the narrator, Sean's, loving description of the plot of Mary Renault's novel The Charioteer. It's important to the story. Also, I had read The Charioteer because Josh had said it meant a lot to him, and I was curious. One of the major plots in that had to do with how several young men came to terms (or not) with being gay in the 1940s, and their struggles to overcome internalized homophobia. There's a lot more to the book than that. Mary Renault had a longtime woman companion, so presumably she had some understanding herself of what it was like to be gay in the 1940s. But she wrote perfectly realistic and complex male characters and their romances with each other. A couple of the characters are very idealistic, but they're young, and you can understand why they feel the way they do.
*Spoilers* The White Knight continues with Sean starring in a movie version of The Charioteer. I really liked the parts with the filming of the movie, and Sean's relationship with his (very attractive) co-star. You get such a sense of how Sean appreciates Renault's book, and get caught up in the emotional highlights of the story. The movie captures the heart of the book, and there's this magic in the writing of the movie, and the performances of the stars.
There are prequel sections of The White Knight, so you get some more of Sean's own struggle with internalized homophobia. He's pretty young, and his parents were totally unaccepting of him -- he had a terribly hard time himself accepting that he was gay. It's not at all pushing it on the reader, but it's clear in the stories the toll that homophobia can take on people. The book also shows how Sean and Dan's relationship continues to develop, and how a serious relationship takes a lot of work and compromise.
I keep thinking that one of the things that really work for me in all of Lanyon's books is how the characters are never "gay for you" -- like in fan fiction and original fiction from some fan fiction writers, how a character is only attracted to one man, and previously has only been interested in women. That's true of the majority of the m/m authors I like -- the characters are gay to start with, and would be gay whether they were in a relationship or not, or attracted to that particular man or not. And as much as I'm relatively militant in some ways, I appreciate when a character is complex. Being gay is part of who the character is, but there's a lot more to him than that.
More thoughts later...