Hunter, a high school senior, finds himself with no place to go and ends up sharing a bed with the friend and classmate he once had abandoned. Brandon, who has been in love with Hunter since ninth grade, finds having Hunter in his bed every night leads to some surprises. After graduating, the two boys part. Years later Brandon receives an unexpected call from Hunter and the two reunite. More
Hartwell's books have all been experimental in nature, and this work is perhaps the most experimental of them all, with the exception, perhaps, of Atom Heart John Beloved. Taking a Walt Whitman poem's metaphor for a phallus as his title, Hartwell explores the power of masculine sexuality in the interactions of a number of intriguing characters. Strangely, the most engaging character in the novel other than the protagonist is the only character portrayed as straight, the handsome boy Taylor who grows up to be a national sports superstar. The fact that the narrator is in love with Taylor for most of Taylor's life and Taylor doesn't mind, and the fact that Hartwell doesn't explore, explain, or even mention their relationship until late in the novel, gives the book a power that surprised me. By making the 18-year-old Taylor's sexual generosity the focal point of a sexual novel, Hartwell creates perhaps his most controversial work to date.