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Wild Animals I Have Known (Polk Street Diaries and After) 

A funny, erotic, and wise diary of San Francisco life in the gay days before AIDS

Wednesday, Mar 27 2002
By Kevin Bently

Green Candy Press (2002), $12.95

Like eating a hot fudge sundae or taking a not-so-sick day off work, reading this recent work by Kevin Bently offers a twinge of delightful, guilty pleasure. One part Armistead Maupin, one part Chi Chi LaRue, Bently tells a daringly honest tale of the grittiness, loneliness, and playground atmosphere that was San Francisco's gay community in the '70s and '80s.

Bently moved to the city from West Texas soon after his parents found out he was gay. Like thousands of others who fled to the "Gay Bay" in the '70s, Kevin at 21 was full of hopes, dreams, and a fierce libido. In this diary, we meet the men and women he encountered, following the endless string of brief, pre-condom encounters he enjoyed long before the days of AIDS. He manages to be at once funny, loving, erotic, and wise; the book is so graphic (and arousing) that I felt I was experiencing firsthand the love he searched for, the drugs he took, the love he ultimately found, and the devastation he felt when the virus hit.

Bently is a natural writer, a talent most likely developed through years of working in a bookstore and later a job at a publishing house. He's comfortable conveying both the sense of celebration when his cards play out and the sense of loss and mourning when they don't. Wild Animals is a stroll down memory lane for anyone who lived in S.F. 20 or 30 years ago -- and for those of us who wish we had, it'll make you feel like you were there, cruising the Giraffe on Polk Street.

About The Author

Jason Dorn


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