Cover design by Kori Klyman
Cover photograph, Evan Snider, age 6, and Clifton Snider, age 1, by Rhoda M. Snider
Author photograph by Deborah Snider
"Gay brothers learn from their differences in the poignant and thoroughly involving Wrestling with Angels, also laced with some beautiful poems." --Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla, in Genre, the national gay magazine.
"Clifton Snider has explored the tangled threads of his history in
vivid novel. I'm enthusiastic. I'd recommend it to
everyone."--Edward Field, author (with Neil Derrick) of The Villagers: A Novel of Greenwich Village
and A Frieze for a Temple of Love (poems).
"Wrestling with Angels is a searing indictment of the dangers of a fundamentalist upbringing. . . . It is a grim, even brutal but relentlessly truthful story about two troubled young men. . . . Wrestling with Angels is an unusual story that holds the reader's attention throughout." --Sexuality and Culture: An Interdisciplinary Quarterly
Click here for an updated version of this review published in USC's International
Gay & Lesbian Review.
characteristic of [Clifton Snider's] work is that he possesses the gift
of always finding integrative pathways to healing. . . . Snider's
bravehearted text undertakes a precarious battle with the singularities
of loss and regeneration. . . . He succeeds not only in charting a
convincing map of integrative pathways through sorrow, but also in
mediating his experience in daring and direct ways."--James Benedict in
Click here for the full
text of this review.
Loud Whisper: "Snider has a keen ear for dialogue, which is almost invariably natural and flowing. . . . What sexual drama is present involves the realization of Adam, matured by suffering, of his love for Mark."--Arnold T. Schwab.
Roots: ". . . quite refreshing. Snider writes with a lean
style that is as unpretentious as Justin, the main character. The
book is very accessible and engaging."--Louie Crew.
Each chapter begins with a poem from Snider's out-of-print chapbook,
Bad Smoke Good Body (Applezaba, 1980), an elegy for
his older brother, Evan, who disappeared on the 22nd of October
1976. To quote from the novel's "Afterword": "I hope . . . [the
poems'] juxtaposition with my fictional prose provides tension,
understanding, and consolation--separate artistic progressions that end
at the same place."
What happens when two gay brothers become friends and then one of them disappears? This question and its answer are threads that run throughout the story of Darren and Brandon Taylor, a story about competition and reconciliation, guilt and redemption, spiritual loss and gain.
Growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Darren and Brandon are the oldest of five sons of an Assembly of God minister. Five years older than Brandon, Darren is the rebel of the brothers, and throughout their lives they compete with each other on various levels.
Brandon is the model preacher's kid until he goes away to college. There Brandon does everything Darren did at fifteen and then some. Before the school year is over, Brandon is arrested at a gay bar for a false I.D., and his parents discover he is gay. Brandon moves home.
Meanwhile Darren has married a church woman and set out on his goal of becoming wealthy through real estate. His marriage is short and unhappy, and not long after its breakup, Darren himself starts having sex with other men. Despite a six-year relationship with a male lover, Darren hides his sexual orientation.
After going away to graduate school in New Mexico in the early 1970s, Brandon moves back to California, lives briefly with Darren and his lover, teaches at local colleges, and works on his painting and drawing, continuing his longstanding pattern of heavy drinking. When Darren's relationship ends, he moves in with Brandon for eleven months. Then Darren buys yet another house, lives in it alone, and soon disappears.
Darren's disappearance stuns the family, especially since it apparently results from foul play. When Darren's stripped car is discovered, the evidence of foul play is inescapable. Brandon does what he can to find Darren, including posting fliers at bars Darren frequented, among them the Hollywood leather bars, and placing an article in a gay magazine.
Brandon decides he must tell the police Darren was gay, but instead of helping the investigation as Brandon had hoped, the police become even more indifferent. The elder Taylors find out about Darren too, and they tell Brandon a local TV station backed off from covering Darren's disappearance after it discovered Darren was gay.
Bitter, angry, and grief-stricken, Brandon tries to cope through his art and his drinking. Although he meets Cary, his first lover in five years, Brandon's drinking gets worse. Eventually, he stops drinking, breaks up with Cary, and begins a new life.
Clifton Snider was born in Duluth, Minnesota. A "P.K." (Preacher's Kid), he moved around a lot as a boy, living in Illinois and Indiana before settling in Southern California. He is the author of eight highly-praised books of poetry, including Blood & Bones (Applezaba Press, 1988), Impervious to Piranhas (Academic and Arts Press, 1989), The Age of the Mother (Laughing Coyote, 1992), The Alchemy of Opposites, and Aspens in the Wind (both Chiron Review Press, 2000 and 2009). His poetry has been published in such journals as Blue Mesa Review, Bogg, Chiron Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Pearl, Poetry/LA, and Rolling Stone. Twice he has won the "In the Spotlight" award (for January 1999 and September-October 1999) from The Poetry Page, published on the World Wide Web. His fiction and reviews have appeared in numerous journals, including The Mt. Aukum Review, The Advocate, the Long Beach Press-Telegram, and the Los Angeles Times. His novel about the bisexual leader of an 80s Southern California rock band, Loud Whisper, was published in 2000 by Xlibris. Bare Roots, his coming out/coming of age novel, was published in 2001 by Xlibris. A specialist in Jungian analysis of literature, he has published articles on Merlin in Victorian poetry, A. C. Swinburne, Edward Lear, Virginia Woolf, Carson McCullers, W. H. Auden, Oscar Wilde, and Emily Dickinson. His book, The Stuff That Dreams Are Made On: A Jungian Interpretation of Literature, was published by Chiron Publications in March, 1991. His fourth and first historical novel, The Plymouth Papers, was published in 2014 by Spout Hill Press. Snider has been awarded resident fellowships at Yaddo (Saratoga Springs, NY); The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico (Taos); and The Michael Karolyi Foundation (Vence, France).
He earned his Ph.D. in English literature from the University of New
A political activist, he is a former officer in the Long Beach Lambda
Democratic Club. He lives in a California Mission style house in
California, and he retired from teaching in
English Department at California State
Long Beach, in June 2009.
Click on the titles below or above to read about Snider's first
published novel, Loud Whisper, and his second published,
first-written, novel, Bare Roots.