I was looking for something to read to help me get through the week between Christmas and the new year, and I came across “Fellow Travelers” by Thomas Mallon. The book was certainly not a feel-good read, but it was poignant and compelling, and captured my attention.
Thomas Mallon is the author of seven novels and six works of nonfiction. He is also a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines.
“Fellow Travelers” is a historical novel describing the affair between the handsome Hawkins Fuller, an employee of the State Department, and the much younger Timothy Laughlin, a senate aide. The novel is set against the backdrop of Washington, D.C., during the turbulent 1950’s of the Eisenhower and Nixon administration. The novel is also set during the time of Joe McCarthy’s desperate search for communists, gay people, and other subversives in the government. This makes the relationship between Hawkins and Timothy extremely dangerous.
Timothy is a devout catholic, and he struggles to balance his religious beliefs and his relationship with Hawkins. He finally takes drastic measures to distance himself from Hawkins, which leads to a lot of heartbreak. I can only imagine what is must have been like for government employees to engage in a same-sex relationship during this period of time of bare-knuckled politics and secret dossiers.
“Fellow Travelers” is available at Amazon and your local library, which is where I got my copy.
Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, speaker, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and originally from West Virginia. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available at www.poetryislifepublishig.com. Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.