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The Front Runner

Narrated by: Christian Rummel
Length: 10 hrs and 50 mins
Categories: Literature & Fiction
4.2 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Summary

First published in 1974, The Front Runner raced to international acclaim - the first novel about gay love to become popular in the mainstream.

In 1975, coach Harlan Brown is hiding from his past at an obscure New York college, after he was fired from Penn State University on suspicion of being gay. A tough, lonely ex-Marine of 39, Harlan has never allowed himself to love another man. Then Billy Sive, a brilliant young runner, shows up on his doorstep. He and his two comrades, Vince Matti and Jacques LaFont, were just thrown off a major team for admitting they are gay. Harlan knows that, with proper training, Billy could go to the '76 Olympics in Montreal. He agrees to coach the three boys under strict conditions that thwart Billy's growing attraction for his mature but compelling mentor.

The lean, graceful front runner with gold-rim glasses sees directly into Harlan's heart. Billy's gentle and open acceptance of his sexuality makes Harlan afraid to confront either the pain of his past, or the challenges which lay in wait if their intimacy is exposed. But when Coach Brown finds himself falling in love with his most gifted athlete, he must combat his true feelings for Billy or risk the outrage of the entire sports world - and their only chance at Olympic gold.

©1974 Patricia Nell Warren (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about The Front Runner

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

My all time favourite Gay romance novel

This is truly an all time great. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a good story about gay love and the problems gay lovers had in the past with society. It truley is an all time great. ENJOY

1 person found this helpful

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history lesson

The focus on gay rights and injustice made this novel a slightly depressing lesson in history. I would have liked a happy ever after.

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A great classic brilliantly told

Really loved this interpretation of the greatest gay novel ever written. I read to novel in the 90s, still remember the tears. This narration was very sensitive to the book, got me totally caught up in it. Can't wait for Harlan's Race and Billy's Boy. If you're a younger reader, under 40, you need to understand that this novel was written in 1974, when the world was a very different place for gay people. Trans hadn't even become a thing until MANY years later. Exposure as gay wasn't just gossip as it might still be today. It meant being ostracised, it meant being blocked from advancement. It meant your achievements counted for nothing: all that counted was making sure you NEVER advance, never progressed, and that you would NEVER be accepted by 'normal' society. In the sports world, you may as well just hang up your jockstrap now. So this novel may delve deep into how 'gays' were treated by society, but in fact there was no other perspective. The relationships in this novel would have still been secret from straight society, or should I say 'normal' society. Don't treat this the same as a contemporary gay novel, where it's normal for people to have open gay relationships. Back in 1974, toilet sex, secret nightclubs with secret password entries, NEVER telling your best friends or your 'close' family about who you really were, never being able to discuss your loves and losses with your brothers and sisters (forget about mentioning anything about it to your parents) were still normal for gay men. So this novel is about a world that could be, about the struggle to be accepted, to advance in sport, to be given some respect. Read and learn. Probably the greatest gay novel ever, and one of mainstream's great novels to boot.

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BRILLIANT and enlightening!!!

fantastic story reminding me how good I have it these days. reader was excellent, kudos!

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A wonderful Gay Love Story

It was a little slow to get going, however, it drew me in so that I didn't want to stop listening.
A very moving and at times tearful listen of a wonderful sensitive guy relationship. Good ending as well. Thoroughly recommend this book

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Disappointed

Having read the front runner is supposed to be the first gay novel that was well recieved in the mainstream I am at a loss to understand how that was ever the case! The story lacks depth, is repetitive and full of stereotypes. The first audio book I have been unable to finish out of annoyance with the depressing tone, moments of sickly sweet dialogue and repetitive useless information about what the characters are eating. The constant need to point out people's sexuality and especially describing groups of men as 'gays' is exceptionally grating.

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  • Donald
  • 06-03-12

A Surprisingly Great Love Story

This is a great love story and the reason I say surprisingly is because of the time frame in which the book was written. Patricia Nell Warren's tale of Harlan and Billy is sweet and tantalizing and most certainly relatable. I will admit that some of the terminology used, such as 'The Gay' made me laugh a bit, but keeping in mind that this book was originally written in 1974, it is fairly accurate to the times, although I do not believe I have ever called myself 'A Gay'. :-) The narration by Christian Rummel is fantastic and certainly adds to the intensity of the story. The book allows the reader to embrace the best, suffer in the tragedy, and long for a better tomorrow. A must read!

10 people found this helpful

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  • christine
  • 05-07-12

Great listen, tear jerking romance

This was a great listen which I could not put down;
even cried along the way.
Narrator did a good job
well worth a credit

2 people found this helpful

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  • Riva
  • 25-10-13

I really wish I liked this more

First let me say the narrator of this book does a wonderful job. I am actually glad I listened to this book because I think I would have hated reading it. The narrator at least brought the characters to life and made a bad story and mediocre writing at least bearable. I should qualify my review by saying this book was written in 1975, so I really tried to keep my opinions in that context. That was a very volatile time in the gay rights movement. As an exposure to that time and the challenges that gay men had to face, I think the book does a great job. However, as a romance/love story I did not enjoy it. Not because the love story wasn’t poignant and beautiful, but because of the direction the author chose to take it. It was like she took the reader on this wonderful ride only to pull the rug out from under us in the end. I realize the “shock” value of what she did, but I really don’t think it was necessary and it seemed almost cruel. Also, in my opinion, the aftermath wasn’t executed well enough to gain the “acclaim” this book seemed to have. Maybe in 1975 it was considered great art, but in 2013 I don't think it survives the test of time. I wish she had just stuck with the gay rights message and not delved into the love story; I think I would have enjoyed it more.

4 people found this helpful

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  • K.S.
  • 04-11-14

You will rembember this

I listened to this many, many books ago and normally i forget most of them again to the point that i have no idea why they are in my library. This one i still remember and usually it is a good indication of the quality of the book - the ones with impact factor stays with me. So - this is a lovestory, but its not a fairytale - if you like the more serious MM books you will probably like this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Alexander H
  • 10-09-20

Life isn’t a race, it’s a marathon

You will also fall in love with the charisma, kindness, and resilience of runner Billy Sive. The performance of the narration is great! Very easy to listen to and follow along. My only critique of the story is the misuse of pronouns and misgendering of the trans women in the story. As a reader you do have to take it with a grain of salt due to the book being written in the 70’s where gay culture was not as accepting to trans women. The trans characters themselves are wonderful and add warmth and sometimes comedic relief to the story.

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  • Eduardo Aguirre
  • 07-06-20

Excellent read

A beautiful love story, enjoyed the pace in which the story evolved. I would read it again.

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  • Scott Loyed
  • 27-10-19

I still love it

I read this book when it first came out. I was a very young man then but I enjoyed it. On a whim I downloaded the audiobook and listened to it. I had remembered the basic story but forgot the details. I throughly enjoyed it. It’s well written ad well narrated. The characters are appealing and well developed. It’s a very accurate description of the time period and lifestyle. I ended up buying the two sequels , Harlan’s Run and Billy’s Boy. I enjoy both but I was sad when I finished them. It was like saying goodbye to an entire group of friends

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  • Laura S. Boatright
  • 01-06-17

OMG

Amazing story. A new favorite of mine. I laughed and cried.

Thank you so much

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  • Stephen R. Frazier
  • 03-05-16

Brave novel in its time!

A re-read . . . Well, I actually listened this 'go-round' . . . First read this novel as a teenager . . . It was a 'Godsend' at that time in my life.

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  • Leslie
  • 28-07-15

great sports story, great love story.

this is a book for anyone who has ever loved or for anyone who wants to love.