Excerpt: Oranges by Gary Eldon Peter

About the Book:


LGBTQIA Studies. “ORANGES is a book of quiet, enormous strength, a collection of slow-gathering moments that add up to the story of Michael Dolin, a gay man whose life and loves are shaped by the AIDS crisis, Midwestern social strictures and expectations for men. There is so much here, such compassion, such nerve and bite–this is a beautiful book, full of sorrow, surprise, and delight.”–Audrey Niffenegger

Read an Excerpt:

Featured In June/July 2019 Issue: Summer Reads

“It’s 3 a.m., but I’m wide awake. To make myself drowsy, I’m going back over the vocabulary words I missed in the last Law School Admissions practice test I took before we went to bed, trying to use them in a sentence. An oligarchy is a government of one. It isn’t working. 

I have another method I use when I can’t sleep: trying to remember past Academy Award winners. I started memorizing them after I correctly guessed that Midnight Cowboy would be named the best picture of 1969 and I won a book about the history of the Academy Awards in a contest sponsored by the local TV station. I had a hunch it would win even though I had heard on the news that an X-rated movie didn’t have a chance. Being eleven years old at the time, I couldn’t see it and judge for myself whether it really was the best movie of the year.

I studied the book constantly—at the breakfast table, after school, at night before I went to sleep. “Put down that blasted

book and eat, Michael,” my father would say, looking at me over his newspaper in the morning. “If only you’d spend as much time on your math as you do on those stupid awards, think where

you’d be.” 

I did think about that from time to time. Where were you supposed to be when you were eleven? But I loved the Academy Awards too much to stop now. I went to work on learning not just the winners but also the nominees. I wrote to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for a list of the nominees in the non-acting categories (editing, music, cinematography, and so forth), but they never wrote back. So I stuck with the book, and when it finally fell

apart from so much handling, I taped it back up. From 1968 on, the last year included in the book, I’ve kept track of the winners by writing them down in a notebook while I watch the awards presentation on television.

For my insomnia, I pick a category, start with a particular year, and go backwards in time to see how far I can go before I either can’t remember someone or I fall asleep.”

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