"The Navigators" is a fictional take on a long list of nonfictional, historic events in LGBT history. It covers the Stonewall riots, the AIDS crisis, the pink triangles in Holocaust, and other LGBT historic events by wrapping them in the personal histories of the main characters. Peoples-Rosenblatt uses his novel to skew a greater Western history to include the gay minority. Although not a text for college classes, this novel is written for both history buffs and gay-literature enthusiasts to enjoy.
The events of the novel hinge on the adventures, loves and losses of Big Steve (a papa bear cop), Wulf (a Holocaust survivor and professor), and Scott (a professional German translator). The men are burly, gym jockeys, perfect specimens of health and luster. They are in touch with their feminine side and have, at the very least, read college level textbooks for fun. They could be the characters of a smutty romance novel if Peoples-Rosenblatt didn’t dedicate them to serious developments almost immediately.
The novel is divided into vignettes that read like romance novel patter but without the tasty sex. They lead into short stories with much better plot arcs and character development. It is easy to get lost in the thrills and chills and the characters’ forays in and out of trouble. Whereas the vignettes are superficial and easily read, it isn’t until the end of the novel that the vignettes turn into short stories of their own - which may force the more devoted reader to fact check from the beginning of the novel. Fortunately, the short story elements engross the reader enough so that the superficiality of the vignettes is easy to overlook.
Although never outright lewd or gruesome, the novel is sometimes graphic. This includes the violence in our personal relationships as well as the abusive relationship the gay community has with the world at large. Peoples-Rosenblatt makes it clear in his writing that he includes the emotionally and physically violent scenes of his book because he wants to tell an educated, all-inclusive picture of our group’s past. Please let this review serve as a potential trigger warning for readers with a more delicate past.
by Jackson Peoples-Rosenblatt