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Alan Semrow (Free)

  • A Room of One's Own 315 West Gorham Street Madison, Wisconsin (map)

The Madison-based writer reads from his new book of letters. Info


In his second book, the recently published Ripe, Madison-based writer Alan Semrow uses a barrage of short letters to unpack the complexities of sex and connection with other gay men. Semrow, a poet and fiction writer whose first book was a 2016 short-story collection called Briefs, gives us 40-odd vignettes, written in second-person, that eventually start to reveal a bigger picture of a tireless search for human companionship, in often brief but meaningful form. Semrow isn't shy about the sex itself, but what mostly comes through is a genuine fondness for these men, sometimes tinged with sadness. "This will end and both men will go back to their lives," Semrow writes in the midst of the chapter "Dear Desert Guy," noting later in that letter, "By not making any promises, we could put insurance on our perfection." Instead of regretting the brevity of this particular encounter, Semrow cherishes its concentrated intensity. Balancing frankness with sprightly prose, Semrow shows how two people can find something profound and lasting in each other, even if what they share on the surface amounts to a casual hookup or even less—even just charged eye contact and a wink across a room. —Scott Gordon