Want a zinger of a gay novel outside the typical over-educated, over-cautious, vaguely literary protagonist who comforts you by confirming your own precious, safe views but bores you because you've met him ten thousand times before? Today's debt of gratitude goes to poet Steven Cordova for urging me beyond my bourgeois tendencies to Don Carpenter's remarkable Hard Rain Falling [and Kindle]. The book achieves the very best balance, at once always natural and always unexpected. Never mind that it was written fifty years ago, the story of an unwanted Portland pool-hall delinquent named Jack Levitt, his petty crimes, and stormy relationship is as timeless as Dostoevsky and as fresh as The Wire. I loved it (except maybe the ending). Click through to read the sample: This is the best opening scene I've read all year and, somehow, amazingly for a first novel, Carpenter sustains that muscular writing throughout. Different as they are, the flinty prose and luckless lives brought to mind another all-time favorite debut, Postcards.