Leavitt’s first novel, The Lost Language of Cranes, is the story of two men of different generations coming to terms with their sexual orientation. Like much of Leavitt’s work, it is also the story of a family coming apart at the seams.
Rose Benjamin, a copy editor, and her husband, Owen, director of admissions at a private boys’ school, lead a tightly structured life, devoting their days to work and their evenings to reading in their twin rocking chairs. Every Sunday, they go their separate ways; Rose reads the paper and works in the apartment, while Owen spends the day at a gay pornographic cinema. Rose has no idea how Owen spends these Sundays and would never dream of asking. When she accidentally meets Owen on the street one Sunday while taking a walk, Rose realizes that after twenty-seven years of marriage, she hardly knows him: “She had stumbled into her husband on a strange street corner, running some mysterious errand she knew nothing of, and they had spoken briefly like strangers, parted like strangers.”
The first cracks appear on the surface of the Benjamin family life when Rose and Owen learn that their New York City apartment will be converted into a co-op, and they must either buy it or move out. Once their sanctuary from the outside world is threatened, the rest of their carefully structured life begins to crumble as well. Their son, Philip, infatuated with a new lover, wants to share his happiness and reveal...
(The entire section is 522 words.)