TOPMAN ¶ Online Writings by and about John Preston

A Necessary Finale

By David Streitfield

[Michael] Denneny, the St. Martin's editor who has probably done more than anyone to put gay literature into the mainstream, will . . . be doing John Preston's final book. The activist, pornographer (his preferred term) and anthologist died from AIDS on April 28. During his final hospital stay, he was in a semi-coma most of the time. Then he came out of it and called Denneny.

"I never thought I would get to talk to you again," the editor said.

"We have stuff to talk about," said Preston. "I can't die in peace unless we can get the revised edition of Franny out in cloth."

A short novel told as a series of monologues that traces 20 years of the gay community's history, Franny appeared as a paperback 11 years ago. Preston and Denneny had talked about a new edition that would also have a new second part, but no formal arrangements had been made.

For the next three days, Preston remained conscious, scribbling his amendments in the margins of a copy of the book. "He wanted all his life to be a writer," says Denneny. "That was his main identity, and it made him come back to life." The book will be published next winter.

This passage is excerpted from David Streitfield's "Book Report," published in The Washington Post's "Book World" on May 22, 1994.

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Creative Commons License: Some Rights ReservedThis text, or a variation on it, was originally published at as part of Topman: Online Writings by and about John Preston. Copyright © 2004 Dusk Peterson. Some rights reserved. The text is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License ( You may freely print, post, e-mail, share, or otherwise distribute the text for noncommercial purposes, provided that you include this paragraph. The author's policies on derivative works and fan works are available online (