Fire Island | Granta

  • Published: 26/05/2022
  • ISBN: 9781783787005
  • Granta Books
  • 272 pages

Fire Island

Jack Parlett

Fire Island: a slim strip of land off the coast of New York, and a place of hedonism, reinvention, liberation.

Arriving on the island after a break-up back home in England, scholar and poet Jack Parlett was beguiled by what he found. Here were the halcyon scenes of Frank O’Hara’s poetry; the bars where Patricia Highsmith got drunk; the infamous cruising sites; and the dazzling beaches where couples had fallen in and out of love, free for a sun-kissed moment to be themselves in the time before gay liberation.

Tracing Fire Island’s rich history, Parlett leads the reader through the early days of the island’s life as a discreet home for same-sex love, to the wild parties of the post-Stonewall disco era, to the residents’ confrontation with the AIDS epidemic, and into a present where a host of new challenges threaten the island’s future.

Lyrical and vivid, Fire Island is a hymn to an iconic destination, and to the men and women whose ardour and determination spread freedom across its shores.

A beautiful, beguiling journey to the ultimate queer utopia, a site of riotous hedonism, wild creativity and immense loss. Fire Island is a fascinating, throbbing history that asks the most urgent of contemporary questions: what does paradise look like, and who does it exclude?

Olivia Laing

The zingy tale of one magnetic place - as well as a sprawling rumination on the intertwined urges to get away and get together. Clued-up but insatiably thirsty, poignant, packed with literary intrigue, Fire Island is a beaming beach read

Jeremy Atherton Lin

A compelling social history. Parlett beautifully conjures Fire Island as myth, metaphor and microcosm of queer culture

Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States