Set in the 1980s against the backdrop of a swiftly gentrifying Manhattan, The Lost Language of Cranes tells the story of twenty-five-year-old Philip Benjamin, who realizes he must come out to his parents after falling in love for the first time with a man. Philip's parents are facing their own problems: pressure from developers and the loss of their longtime home. But the real threat to the family is Philip's father's own struggle with his suppressed homosexuality, realized only in Sunday afternoon visits to gay porn theaters. Philip's revelation to his parents leads his father to a point of crisis and provokes changes that forever alter the landscape of the family's lives.
I read this beautifully moving, family-issues story back in the eighties, and it inspired me to want to write about my own family issues. I’ve not read much of Leavitt, but this book I’ve read a half dozen times since that first reading. And like this story, I’ve written a number of novels and short stories dealing with the tensions between father and son. I feel this book is a classic, and should be read by every enthusiast of gay literature.