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Books » Looking for Brothers

Looking for Brothers: Essays by Michael Rowe
  • 1999
  • ISBN 0889626715
  • 200 pages
  • Buy from Amazon.com

Michael's first collection of award-winning essays and journalism, offering a multitude of perspectives on the common threads that run through gay men's lives, prompted Hero magazine to note that his "concise presentation of facts without hyperbole is a model for the type of journalism many American writers have long since forgotten." Booklist praised the book for supporting "the notion of the universality of human experience," adding that the book would "touch as well as provoke all readers, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or nationality, who are interested in well-spoken ideas and opinions."

Praise for Looking for Brothers

"This award-winning Canadian journalist and essayist's latest collection of essays, while grounded in specific issues, events, and individuals in his homeland, supports the notion universality of human experience. To be specific, Rowe writes about gay causes in Canada, but his comments and concerns, expressed in impassioned but limpid prose, will touch as well as provoke all readers, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or nationality, who are interested in well-spoken ideas and opinions. Gays in the Canadian military, the case of a man accused of murdering his lover in Mexico, the murder of a teenage prostitute, and the benefits of straight men being in gay men's lives are all topics arousing Rowe's curiosity. Consistently wise and often humorous, these are essays that you'll insist your friends read, too."


"In this engaging collection of essays and articles, Canadian writer Rowe (Writing Below the Belt) presents a multifaceted perspective on "the common threads that run through" gay mens' lives. Ultimately, Rowe makes it clear that the gay man's story is the story of his extended family in the largest human community. In the book, fellow writer Michael Riordon helps Rowe understand "gay lifestyle" when he comments, "What does that mean? There is a desire to have a meaningful life, to love, to be loved. I experience the world differently from a heterosexual, but that doesn't mean that I necessarily want different things." To his credit, Rowe's subjects range from those as celebrated as gay Olympian Mark Leduc to the less well known but no less interesting: the closing piece, "Twenty-Five Yards from Shore," is both a striking glimpse of Rowe's own quest for fulfillment and a particularly fine example of his poetic facility with the essay. Academic and public libraries will want this for their gay/lesbian studies collections as well as for collections devoted to social history and to writing."

Roger Harris, Fordham University at Lincoln Center Library, New York, for Library Journal

"An appealing collection of essays and articles on issues central to the gay community. Award-winning Canadian journalist and author Rowe (Writing Below The Belt, not reviewed) provokes and enlightens with his musings on the contemporary gay experience. A major theme is the sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle prejudice gays encounter. Of particular concern is the tormenting isolation and fear of sudden, violent death, especially by gay teens. In the opening essay, "Requiem for Junior," Rowe laments the murder of 18-year-old transvestite Sean Keagan, "a sad reminder that society will always view some people as more expendable than others, and that the streets are carnivorous." In "Justice Deferred," Rowe takes on his country's legal system for allowing Dennis Hurley to be extradited to Mexico to stand trial for his lover's death, contending that it would be impossible for Hurley to receive a fair trial in a country as homophobic as Mexico, whose legal system includes no presupposition of innocence. Particularly engaging is Rowe's discussion of the controversy within the gay community over same-sex marriage. While Rowe, who has been monogamous for most of his adult life, contends that the prohibition against gay marriage reinforces the "false notion" of heterosexual superiority, others within the gay community fiercely oppose gay marriage as bourgeois, while still others are too enamored of their outsider status to conform to society's institutions. Although most of Rowes reflections are serious, he does provide some light moments. "In Praise of Straight Men" is a good-humored paean to straight men who, lacking the drama of gay men, are "definitely lower-maintenance than their gay counterparts." For while gay men obsess over their looks, straight men "just assume they're good looking even if they aren't." And a straight man rarely "spends forty-five minutes of sobbing in the bathroom because the soufflé fell." A heartfelt collection that should win its author a wide readership."

Kirkus Reviews

"Michael Rowe's concise presentation of facts without hyperbole is a model for the type of journalism many American writers have long forgotten. When writing about the hateful murder of Sean Keegan in his piece "Requiem For Junior," Rowe unflinchingly covers the "self doubt of survivors, the blame, the regrets about things said in anger or never said at all.

"Looking For Brothers collects some of his articles and essays from the past decade, and his view of society is refreshingly non homo-centric for a gay writer. In the essay from which the book is titled, Rowe talks about the two men he considers brothers, one straight and one gay. Rowe reflects how he benefits from both relationships in equal but different ways. He successfully imparts to the reader the depth of feeling that can exist between members of the same sex; a reality sadly lacking in most literary efforts, and completely unconsidered in straight journalism about gays and lesbians.

Rowe's other topics include gays in the military and same sex marriage. Though written a few years ago, his perspectives are still fresh, partly because they are uncluttered with sensationalism, but mostly because they are crafted by a gifted writer. Some of his work is like a Zen rock garden; everything is in perfect pleasing order and you can't see how he did it, but it's just right. His essay titled "What We Talk About When We Talk About Models" sets to right the modeling world and the gay subculture supposedly contained therein.

Hero magazine

Michael Rowe