First published in 1974, The Front Runner raced to international acclaim - the first novel about gay love to become popular in the mainstream.
In 1975, coach Harlan Brown is hiding from his past at an obscure New York college, after he was fired from Penn State University on suspicion of being gay. A tough, lonely ex-Marine of 39, Harlan has never allowed himself to love another man. Then Billy Sive, a brilliant young runner, shows up on his doorstep. He and his two comrades, Vince Matti and Jacques LaFont, were just thrown off a major team for admitting they are gay. Harlan knows that, with proper training, Billy could go to the '76 Olympics in Montreal. He agrees to coach the three boys under strict conditions that thwart Billy's growing attraction for his mature but compelling mentor.
The lean, graceful front runner with gold-rim glasses sees directly into Harlan's heart. Billy's gentle and open acceptance of his sexuality makes Harlan afraid to confront either the pain of his past, or the challenges which lay in wait if their intimacy is exposed. But when Coach Brown finds himself falling in love with his most gifted athlete, he must combat his true feelings for Billy or risk the outrage of the entire sports world - and their only chance at Olympic gold.
©1974 Patricia Nell Warren (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
This is a great love story and the reason I say surprisingly is because of the time frame in which the book was written. Patricia Nell Warren's tale of Harlan and Billy is sweet and tantalizing and most certainly relatable. I will admit that some of the terminology used, such as 'The Gay' made me laugh a bit, but keeping in mind that this book was originally written in 1974, it is fairly accurate to the times, although I do not believe I have ever called myself 'A Gay'. :-) The narration by Christian Rummel is fantastic and certainly adds to the intensity of the story. The book allows the reader to embrace the best, suffer in the tragedy, and long for a better tomorrow. A must read!
This was a great listen which I could not put down;
even cried along the way.
Narrator did a good job
well worth a credit
First let me say the narrator of this book does a wonderful job. I am actually glad I listened to this book because I think I would have hated reading it. The narrator at least brought the characters to life and made a bad story and mediocre writing at least bearable. I should qualify my review by saying this book was written in 1975, so I really tried to keep my opinions in that context. That was a very volatile time in the gay rights movement. As an exposure to that time and the challenges that gay men had to face, I think the book does a great job. However, as a romance/love story I did not enjoy it. Not because the love story wasn’t poignant and beautiful, but because of the direction the author chose to take it. It was like she took the reader on this wonderful ride only to pull the rug out from under us in the end. I realize the “shock” value of what she did, but I really don’t think it was necessary and it seemed almost cruel. Also, in my opinion, the aftermath wasn’t executed well enough to gain the “acclaim” this book seemed to have. Maybe in 1975 it was considered great art, but in 2013 I don't think it survives the test of time. I wish she had just stuck with the gay rights message and not delved into the love story; I think I would have enjoyed it more.
The Front Runner is an intense and passionate look into true love found in the running world of the 1970's. The protagonists, Harlan and Billy, are so fleshed out that I practically searched the internet to see if this was based on a true story. It was written mid seventies, before some of the topics it covers became acceptable to even talk about in public. It dared to explore gay sex, relationships, friendships, marriage and even adoption way before the rest. In that it is groundbreaking. The story is well written in general, so it transcends the mere fact of being historical into being groundbreaking even now. The struggle to find love for a regimented track coach with a tough coming out past, a young runner who finally finds someone to express his heart with, the road to the Olympics laid out before them, and the burgeoning gay rights movement with all the dangers imagined and real; this book has it all. The story is so captivating as we follow Billy into Harlan's care as track coach, to their unlikely love story. There are twenty years separating them, and it felt weird that Harlan was his coach, but they were both adults capable of making their own decisions. I felt that some of the supporting characters were too ok with some of the decisions of the man characters. The university owner seemed saintly, Bill's dad was supremely understanding, Betsy extremely selfless. Even so, those and the rest of the characters were exciting and compelling. I was drawn in, pulling for their every challenge to be overcome. I felt the wind on my face as everyone watched Billy run for the tape in the Olympics. [spoilers removed] The running is written very well that a complete non runner like me could be so enthralled by it. The science of running and the human body intrigued me. All that together makes a great book. I will check out the sequels.
It is similar to the Art of Fielding in that the sports story entwined a gay love boy meets boy tale.
Billy captures your heart, but Harlan paints him as an ethereal being so you have no choice but to love him.
When Vince helps Harlan come to terms in the end. Or when Billy helps Harlan learn to love.
I listened to this many, many books ago and normally i forget most of them again to the point that i have no idea why they are in my library. This one i still remember and usually it is a good indication of the quality of the book - the ones with impact factor stays with me. So - this is a lovestory, but its not a fairytale - if you like the more serious MM books you will probably like this one.
Fun loving, free spirited guy, who loves reading or better still, being read to!
I remember when this book came out, and there was a lot of chatter. Now many years later I really appreciate this read. I did not want it to end. No wonder they re-released it!
Without limits and Brokeback Mountain
Excellent performance. He puts you inside the action. Great job!
I would not rename it
Best enjoyed book in a long while
The initially turbulent relationship between Harlan and Billy flowers into one of the most beautiful loves in modern literature. Yes, I would go that far.
Billy Sive is my favourite character. He is intelligent, always honest, a romantic, silly in a fun way, and abandons himself to love. Oh, and his eyes are described as being a shade of blue that is hard for me to my imagine. Billy is also very brave, a kind of bravery we need much more of in our daily lives.
His reading is simply perfect. It is capable of great emotion and the stating of cold, unyielding facts. His narration is flawless.
I cried and laughed several times listening to this story, even after hearing it several times.
Buy this audiobook. It is a magnificent story and a wonderful narration.
Absolutely! Simple... Because it's a great story.
Billy because he was pure, true, passionate, calming and loveable
No, not that I'm aware of. Will look for him now though, he did a wonderful job.
Harlan. First, because he likes steak. Second, I'd want to express my sympathy for his loss.(which felt like my loss too)
A love story for he ages!!!
I first read The Front Runner in the early 80s, and I was very moved by the story then. It was the first novel by Patricia Nell Warren that I had read, and I was surprised at how sensitively she could portray a love story between two men. OK, it's not Anna Karenina or Madame Bovary, but it is a warm and touching story. I remember being totally engaged by the emotion in the book, and not wanting to put it down. Listening to this beautiful narration by Christian Rummel, I felt the same. Even though I could remember the story, I was still totally engaged, and I didn't want to stop listening. I listen to audiobooks while I go for my morning run, and knowing that the next installment of this book was waiting for me when I hit the road was great motivation. Now I wish that the sequels, Harlan's Race and Billy's Boy, were available as audiobooks.
I seldom listen to a book more than once, and The Front Runner is no exception. The writing style is straightforward narrative. It tells a good story without much in the way of writerly flourishes that demand or reward listening again.
I admired the character Billy Sive, though we know him only through Harlan Brown, whose story this is. Billy is as self-actualizing a character as I have ever read about, and his internal clarity and his courage to march to the sound of his own drummer are exhilarating.
Restrained but listenable.
I think the book is aptly titled, both as it describes Billy Sive's style as a competitive runner and as a metaphor for his personality.
There is a quality about The Front Runner that reminds me of The Harrad Experiment, a heterosexual story of the same era that includes, like TFR, a big measure of 70s utopian wish fulfillment. Both stories are artful enough, and tempered with enough loss and pain to make the willing suspension of disbelief a worthwhile exercise.In this kinder, gentler era, Patricia Nell Warren's portrayal of gay life in the 60s and seventies makes me glad for how far we've come, and resigned to how far we still have to go.
"A wonderful Gay Love Story"
It was a little slow to get going, however, it drew me in so that I didn't want to stop listening.
A very moving and at times tearful listen of a wonderful sensitive guy relationship. Good ending as well. Thoroughly recommend this book
Having read the front runner is supposed to be the first gay novel that was well recieved in the mainstream I am at a loss to understand how that was ever the case! The story lacks depth, is repetitive and full of stereotypes. The first audio book I have been unable to finish out of annoyance with the depressing tone, moments of sickly sweet dialogue and repetitive useless information about what the characters are eating. The constant need to point out people's sexuality and especially describing groups of men as 'gays' is exceptionally grating.
"My all time favourite Gay romance novel"
This is truly an all time great. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good story about gay love and the problems gay lovers had in the past with society. It truley is an all time great. ENJOY
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