Gary In Your Pocket

Stories and Notebooks of Gary Fisher

Book Pages: 364 Illustrations: Published: July 1996

African American Studies and Black Diaspora, Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Fiction

The incandescent African American writer Gary Fisher was completely unpublished when he died of AIDS in 1994 at the age of 32. This volume, which includes all of Fisher’s stories and a generous selection from his journals, notebooks, and poems, will introduce readers to a tender, graphic, extravagant, and unswervingly incisive talent. In Fisher’s writings the razor-sharp rage is equalled only by the enveloping sweetness; the raw eroticism by a dazzling writerly elegance. Evocations of a haunting and mobile childhood are mixed in Fisher’s stories with an X-ray view of the racialized sexual vernaculars of gay San Francisco; while the journals braid together the narratives of sexual exploration and discovery, a joyous and deepening vocation as a writer, a growing intimacy with death, and an engagement with racial problematics that becomes ever more gravely and probingly imaginative.

A uniquely intimate, unflinching testimony of the experience of a young, African American gay man in the AIDS emergency, Gary in Your Pocket includes an introduction by Don Belton that describes Fisher’s achievement in the context of other work by Black gay men such as Marlon Riggs and Essex Hemphill, and a biographical afterword by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick.


It is impossible to read Gary in Your Pocket and not marvel at [Fisher’s] talent. . . . Here is the unfolding world of a young gay man of the post-Stonewall generation, learning to embrace a gay identity with innocence and without shame. . . . Gary in Your Pocket redefines the dimensions of African-American literature. The body of black gay literature is all the more so enriched.” — Mark Haile, Lambda Book Report

“I admire Gary Fisher’s writings for their unrelenting focus on the more knotty psychological issues of gay identity, thus further problematizing the notion of a monolithic black identity. His work will help us start seeing the black gay male writer as an individual rather than as a symbol, a martyr or a mascot. Again, Eve Sedgwick surprises and astounds us with her insights into the universe. Don Belton’s introduction to the world of Fisher is useful, touching, and timely.” — Michele Wallace

“Such acuity, such merciless wit, such love of language, such a passion for the process of writing: Fisher’s work makes me remember the first time I read Hart Crane, thinking then, as I do now, how much such a writer could have accomplished during a longer life, while marveling at what he did accomplish, writing driven by the energy of genius, honed by mortal urgency.” — Marilyn Hacker

“The importance of Gary Fisher’s work cannot be overstated. Presenting a singular and now lost artist, Gary in Your Pocket adds much needed insight into the forum of AIDS and sexuality. It will handily transcend any normal sense of audience or perceived notions of appeal.” — Randall Kenan


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Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick is Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of numerous books, including Tendencies and a book of poetry, Fat Art, Thin Art, both published by Duke University Press.

Don Belton is the editor of Speak My Name: Black Men on Masculinity and the American Dream and author of Almost Midnight.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1799-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1804-0
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