“Freedom” and “I, Too, Have Suffered in the Garden”
• I, Too, Have Suffered in the Garden
The heroine of Freedom spends her late 1970s glory days in “Total Jockworld” as the straight girl on a Big Ten women’s basketball team. Surrounded by lesbians, she dates Walter, a boy who’s infatuated with another guy. Patty and Walter get married, but “the other guy” haunts them into the 21st century, when Patty briefly retreats to a stable same-sex couple to re-group. Patty and Walter’s roller-coaster romance is rightly one of the year’s most celebrated novels, but the lesser-known I, Too, Have Suffered in the Garden, at half its length, is twice as deep and detailed. Like Patty, its gay narrator, Adam, also confesses illicit affairs that torment him, wreck his relationships, and browbeat his self-esteem. Fans of Schadenfreude will have a field day with both books, but Hritz seems more successful with creating flesh-and-blood characters whose miseries are palpable. It’s set primarily in Austin, but ventures occasionally to a horse ranch in Kentucky. Read together, these two beautifully written novels—one penned by a straight man from a female character’s point of view, the other by a straight woman told from a gay man’s perspective—offer interesting views of life in the same rocky time period.
Freedom: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (fsgbooks.com).
I, Too, Have Suffered: self-published (jenniferhritz.com). —Review: Donalevan Maines