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166. Invisible Life by E. Lynn Harris...

September 24, 2009
invisible lifeIn memory of author E. Lynn Harris, Karen Hunter Publishing and Pocket Books have created E. Lynn Harris Day on 9/25/09 as a tribute to his life and his final novel, MAMA DEAREST. I thought that I should also read his bold look into the life of a bisexual black man, especially since Invisible Life has been sitting on my bookshelf, on loan from a friend, since last Christmas.

About the book:
Invisible Life is the story of a young man's coming of age. Law school, girlfriends, and career choices were all part of Raymond Tyler's life, but there were other, more terrifying issues for him to confront. Being black was tough enough, but Raymond was becoming more and more conscious of sexual feelings that he knew weren't "right." He was completely committed to Sela, his longtime girlfriend, but his attraction to Kelvin, whom he had met during his last year in law school, had become more than just a friendship. No matter how much he tried to suppress them, his feelings were deeply sexual.

Fleeing to New York to escape both Sela and Kelvin, Raymond finds himself more confused than ever before. New relationships -- both male and female -- give him enormous pleasure but keep him from finding the inner peace and lasting love he so desperately desires. The horrible illness and death of a friend force Raymond, at last, to face the truth.

drey's thoughts:
Invisible Life is a very frank take on the life of a non-heterosexual black man, and the path he weaves in his attempt to reconcile his upbringing with his sexual preferences. As I read it, I felt really bad for a whole segment of the population; one that either cannot--or do not care to--face the censure from their own, where it concerns their bedroom activities. I have to say that while I do not condone putting others' lives at risk by having unprotected sex, or lying to spouses so you can carry on your affair(s), I feel for these men.

As Raymond puts it--and I'm paraphrasing, because I can't (ugh!) find it to quote it right--life is hard enough for a straight black man, why complicate it by coming out of the closet? And E. Lynn Harris' portrayal of Raymond makes him one of the "good" guys. This is a book that will make you think about identity--gender, racial, and sexual.

Note: Raymond met Kelvin his senior year in college, not law school. I grabbed the description of the book from E. Lynn Harris' website,

Title: Invisible Life
Author: E. Lynn Harris
ISBN-10: 0385469683
ISBN-13: 9780385469685
Paperback: 265 pages
Publisher: Doubleday, 1994

Challenges: 100+



i have a truely wonderful friend who feels he cannot live in texas because of attitudes here. he is white. why can't people let other people be... free to be you and me...whatever that means

Shonda said...

E. Lynn was a fantastic author! I've read all his books and cannot wait to read his final novel. I've listened to his interviews on the radio and really wanted to attend a book signing, as he was one author I wanted to meet in person. He will be deeply missed.

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