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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Book at the Right Time by the Right Author
The idea that THE FRONT RUNNER was the first novel to address gay men and their romantic and sexual relationships is myth. A host of novels predate it, including Gore Vidal's 1948 THE CITY AND THE PILLAR and Mary Renault's brilliant 1959 THE CHARIOTEER. By the 1960s gay characters began to crack the bestseller lists with considerable regularity, with Gavin Lambert's...
Published on 14 Feb 2004 by Gary F. Taylor

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful gay fairytale
It's very difficult to give an authentic, frank, public commentary about this book.

Either it needs a lot of work to do, to locate this book in the literature of its time; either there is
another kind of work to do, a serious literary analysis to try to assess the fair value literary speaking; either we have to consider it from a sociological point of view...
Published 22 months ago by french reader


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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Right Book at the Right Time by the Right Author, 14 Feb 2004
By 
Gary F. Taylor "GFT" (Biloxi, MS USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
The idea that THE FRONT RUNNER was the first novel to address gay men and their romantic and sexual relationships is myth. A host of novels predate it, including Gore Vidal's 1948 THE CITY AND THE PILLAR and Mary Renault's brilliant 1959 THE CHARIOTEER. By the 1960s gay characters began to crack the bestseller lists with considerable regularity, with Gavin Lambert's INSIDE DAISY CLOVER a case in point. But THE FRONT RUNNER was very much the right book at the right time by the right author--and it would become legendary as the voice of a new generation.
The Stonewall Riots, which marked a turning point in the struggle for equal rights, were barely five years old when THE FRONT RUNNER was published, and few people--including many in the gay community--had any serious context for the story Warren offered. Consequently, Warren took nothing for granted: she created that context through a series of meticulously described backgrounds, something that made the book widely accessible to mainstream readers. And when THE FRONT RUNNER hit the bookstore it proved a revelation for both homosexual and heterosexuals alike: it flew off the shelves, becoming one of the most critically lauded and widely read novels of its decade.
The story concerns Harlan, a college track coach who is rocked out of the closet when three world class athletes land on his doorstep after being expelled for homosexuality from a major university. One of the three is Billy--and Billy is everything that Harlan has both hungered for and feared: a man with whom Harlan could fall in love. Although many regard it as love story pure and simple, THE FRONT RUNNER is really a sociopolitical novel. At the time, there was little balance in public discourse on homosexuality--and as Harlan and his runners attain increasing fame they must also deal with public reaction to their increasingly open sexuality. Then as now, the price for such openness could be extremely high, and in the spotlight of the track field the price for Harlan and Billy will be beyond reckoning.
Some may feel the book is dated. The 1970s slang is so quaint! And is it really necessary to point out that gay men actually fall in love, that their relationships involve much more than sex? Is it really necessary to detail Stonewall? Do we have to go over the whole ground of being in the closet again? Surely we can take all that for granted now! Yes, we can--to a certain extent, at least. But one reason we can is that Patricia Nell Warren put it all on the table in the first place. The world has changed a great deal since the early 1970s, but even with the advent of AIDS, civil unions, and the controversy over same-sex marriage THE FRONT RUNNER still exerts a powerful influence. It was and is a remarkable novel, and it will doubtlessly remain so for as long as love and sexuality remain twin victims of reactionary hysteria.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely a must read., 12 Feb 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
This was the first piece of gay literature that I ever read and to be honest anything after this is going to have to be nothing less than phenomenal. I read The Front Runner, to be honest as it was the only book I could get that fit in my coat pocket!!! If I hadn't got to be in work I would have probably read the whole thing from start to finish in one sitting. From the outset with Harlan coming to terms with his own homosexuality to his encounter with his three "young birds" one of whom helps him discover love. Their journey together with all the trials and happiness which culminates in what has to be one of the most poignant and heart wrenching pieces of writing I've ever read, its the first book that has ever made me cry put it that way. What makes this book so special is that there is a character in it for everyone to identify with be it Harlan the initially repressed homosexual, Billy who is calm and and happy who he is, the passionate Vince who is passionatein more ways than or the shy, quiet and vulnerable Jacques. This is a story for everyone. If you like love storys then this is for you. What are you waiting for...BUY IT!!!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book has amazing passion and unforgetable sorrow., 6 Dec 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
I read this book in one sitting because I couldn't put it down. The characters are so real and so complex that I can't help but admire them all. From the insecurity of Harlan, quiet confidence of Billy, tough exterior but passionate interior of Vince, and confusion in Jaques. It is a book full of love and hope and i read through it laughing and crying at the fortunate and unfortunate instances in Harland and Billy's love life and their fight for justice. I find it wonderfully sweet the way they slowly find out about their love for one another. They approach life with confidence and serenity and i feel that I have really learnt something from this book. The end is shattered with sadness and it really shows how much one human can love another human. The ending of this book is made complete with the idea that the end is not necessarily the end, but could as well be the new beginning. Still, I cried my heart out last night and I am sure that this book will remain in my mind for some time to come. It is very powerful, grabbing, real and incredibly sweet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A heartbreaker but worth every minute of pain, 15 Jan 2007
By 
Nat NI "Nathan" (Northern Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Front Runner (Hardcover)
This is one of the most beautiful pieces of gay literature that I have ever read. After the first few pages I was hooked and finished the book in 2 days. It tell's the story of Harlan a tough ex-marine now coaching track at an American college. He takes in 3 young athletes when they are ostracised from their previous college. The book tells the story of how Billy and Harlan fall in love, and the devastating price to be paid for that love. If this book does not move you, you have a heart of stone.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping , passionate and tragic love story, 26 Nov 2001
By 
martynby@aol.com (hampshire england) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
23 years ago when i was 18 I was deeply touched by this book,reading it again now I was moved once again by the pure indepth passion of the story,the fight against the predjudices of the era in which it was originally written and which unfortunately are still with us in many ways.it is a truly revealing look into a world which so many people dont or wont understand.any gay man who has been or is in love,cannot help but identify with this tragic tale and the feelings which the book brings to the surface so vividly .I cannot reccomend it highly enough you will laugh and truly cry.Martyn Bayliss. Hampshire England
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a gay classic?, 10 Oct 2002
This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
This being a very famous gay classic, I'm sorry I was just a bit desapointed. Maybe it was me: very high expectations, and maybe some lack of perspetive; after all, this book is almost 25 yo, so I just get to it 25 years late! I admire the fact that this book may have brought some romantic perspective to gay lives in the seventies, but since then gay literature has developed into a more serious matter!
And this rather enjoying book lacks, in my opinion, the stuff that it takes to be considered a classic.
Having said that, TFR remains a very well written story, a moving book, with strong and warm-hearted characters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most beautiful, heart wrenching, 1 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
One of the most beautiful, heart wrenching, uplifting, crushing, and all round emotional books I've ever read. It's 40 years old now, but I'd still rate it as one of the most important books I've ever come across, with so much to teach us today whether LGBTQ or not. Absolutely everyone to read it, and it's no wonder there's a global running movement named after it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sad, pertinent and a must read., 31 Aug 2013
By 
L. Powell "Lori Powell xx" (England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
I read this book on the recommendation of my brother, he says it is his favourite book and I can see why. The first thing I would say is don't read this if you want an easy read - though beautifully written, nothing about this book is easy. It is however heartbreaking.

This book reads so like an actual auto-biography I had to check that it was indeed fiction. Written from the first person perspective of Harlan Brown, it tells us of his uneasy acknowledgement and eventual acceptance of his sexuality in the late 50's to 70's.
Brought up as a man of strict religion and 'high moral code' this ex-marine has a hard time accepting that he is gay. The one passion in his life he is able to indulge is running, it is while he coaches track at college that he meets the love of his life Billy Sive.

This story is about the fight for human rights. Simply because he is gay Billy, a supremely talented athlete, and Harlan have to fight every step of the way to be able to compete at athletic meets and eventually the 1976 Olympics in Montreal. It is also about an athlete's personal fight to be able to give the best performance they can. And lastly, but most certainly not least, it is about love and fighting your own demons.

The fight that Harlan and Billy faced was made all the more poignant and difficult because they didn't want to fight. They wanted to love and run, it really wasn't asking for the world. I don't think they really even cared what people thought of them if only they were left alone. Aren't these rights we should all be allowed, whoever we are?

This book does not have a happy ending but I am not sorry I read it. Please everyone read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful, 12 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
By a mile the best love story i've read ever. From cover to cover, it was an immense pleasure to read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars a beautiful gay fairytale, 19 Dec 2012
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This review is from: The Front Runner (Paperback)
It's very difficult to give an authentic, frank, public commentary about this book.

Either it needs a lot of work to do, to locate this book in the literature of its time; either there is
another kind of work to do, a serious literary analysis to try to assess the fair value literary speaking; either we have to consider it from a sociological point of view in the history of the gay liberation movement; either it is considered to be a manifesto commitment and we have to evaluate the effects it has had in the benefit of the cause; either we have to consider how it brought relief, help to personal life of many people who read it since its release. And, in this case, bring some negative criticism would risk not respect or hurt these people.

So I shall try to be as careful as possible to give a subjective opinion. If you want a training manual for distance running: it's a perfect book; if you want a look of the class gym a few decades ago; also perfect; if you want a beautiful sense of nature; its perfect ; you want a lovely romantic gay love story ; it's also perfect ; and it must be emphasized, the date of its publication fact makes that we escape the pornographic scenes that have become common place in many gay novels today.

I will conclude with a kind of metaphor; some will, understand, may be. I think that one of the problems of the life of a gay person is that when being a child he, or, she never had the opportunity to hear or read a fairy tale where two princes or two princess who love each other, experiencing problems to love, but in the end "they married and had many children".

In a way, this book is the reverse of that kind of tale. The people here are too perfect to be real. Well, we deserve, also, gay fairytale, don't we ?
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The Front Runner
The Front Runner by Patricia Nell Warren (Hardcover - Dec 1995)
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