Review: Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

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Also on this website:

Toby Johnson's books:

GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness

GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe

SECRET MATTER: updated, revised & expanded edition from Lethe Press with Afterword by Mark Jordan

GETTING LIFE IN PERSPECTIVE: A romance novel set in the 1980s and the 1890s.

THE FOURTH QUILL, a novel about attitudinal healing and the problem of evil

TWO SPIRITS: A Story of Life with the Navajo, a collaboration with Walter L. Williams

CHARMED LIVES: Spinning Straw into Gold: Reclaiming Our Queer Spirituality Through Story


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Books on Gay Spirituality:

White Crane Gay Spirituality Series

  Articles and Excerpts:

Read Toby's review of Samuel Avery's The Dimensional Structure of Consciousness

Funny Coincidence: "Aliens Settle in San Francisco"

The Simple Answer to the Gay Marriage Debate

Why gay people should NOT Marry

Wedding Cake Liberation

Gay Marriage in Texas

What's ironic

Shame on the American People

The "highest form of love"

Second March on Washington

A Bifurcation of Gay Spirituality

 The cause of homosexuality

The origins of homophobia

Q&A about Jungian ideas in gay consciousness

What is homosexuality?

What is Gay Spirituality?

My three messages

What Jesus said about Gay Rights

Queering religion

Common Experiences Unique to Gay Men

Is there a "uniquely gay perspective"?

The purpose of homosexuality

The Reincarnation of Edward Carpenter

The Gay Succession

Interview on the Nature of Homosexuality

What the Bible Says about Homosexuality

Mesosexual Ideal for Straight Men

Varieties of Gay Spirituality

Waves of Gay Liberation Activity

Why Gay Spirituality: Spirituality as Artistic Medium

Easton Mountain Retreat Center

Andrew Harvey & Spiritual Activism

The Gay Spirituality Summit in May 2004 and the  "Statement of Spirituality"

"It's Always About You"

The myth of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Joseph Campbell's description of Avalokiteshvara

Avalokiteshvara at the Baths.

You're Not A Wave

What is Enlightenment?

What is reincarnation?

How many lifetimes in an ego?

Emptiness & Religious Ideas

Experiencing experiencing experiencing

Going into the Light

Meditations for a Funeral

Meditation Practice

The way to get to heaven

Buddha's father was right

Advice to Travelers to India & Nepal

The Danda Nata & goddess Kalika

Nate Berkus is a bodhisattva

John Boswell was Immanuel Kant

The Two Loves

Curious Bodies

What Toby Johnson Believes

The Joseph Campbell Connection

Campbell & The Pre/Trans Fallacy

The Nature of Religion

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Being Gay is a Blessing

Drawing Long Straws

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The Gay Agenda

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Gay Spiritual Functions

The subtle workings of the spirit in gay men's lives.

The Sinfulness of Homosexuality

Proposal for a study of gay nondualism

Priestly Sexuality

 "The Evolution of Gay Identity"

"St. John of the Cross &
the Dark Night of the Soul."

 Eckhart's Eye

Let Me Tell You a Secret

Religious Articulations of the Secret

The Collective Unconscious

Driving as Spiritual Practice


Historicity as Myth


No Stealing

Next Step in Evolution

The New Myth

The Moulting of the Holy Ghost

Gaia is a Bodhisattva

The Hero's Journey as archetype

Marian Doctrines: Immaculate Conception & Assumption

Teenage Prostitution and the Nature of Evil

Allah Hu: "God is present here"
Adam and Steve

The Life is in the Blood

Gay retirement and the "freelance monastery"

Seeing with Different Eyes

The mystical experience at the Servites'  Castle in Riverside

The Great Dance according to C.S.Lewis

The Techniques Of The World Saviors

Part 1: Brer Rabbit and the Tar-Baby
Part 2:
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Part 3:
Jesus and the Resurrection
Part 4:
A Course in Miracles

The Secret of the Clear Light

Understanding the Clear Light

Mobius Strip

Finding Your Tiger Face

How Gay Souls Get Reincarnated

In honor of Sir Arthur C Clarke

Karellen was a homosexual

About Alien Abduction

What are you looking for in a gay science fiction novel?

The D.A.F.O.D.I.L. Alliance

More about Gay Mental Health

Psych Tech Training

The Rainbow Flag

Ideas for gay mythic stories

Kip and Toby, Activists

Toby's friend and nicknamesake Toby Marotta.

Harry Hay, Founder of the gay movement

About Hay and The New Myth

About Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the first man to really "come out"

About Michael Talbot, gay mystic

About Fr. Bernard Lynch

About Richard Baltzell

About Guy Mannheimer

About David Weyrauch

About Dennis Paddie

About Ask the Fire

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About Michael Stevens

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Book Reviews

Be Done on Earth by Howard E. Cook

Pay Me What I'm Worth by Souldancer

The Way Out by Christopher L  Nutter
The Gay Disciple by John Henson

Art That Dares by Kittredge Cherry

Coming Out, Coming Home by Kennth A. Burr

Extinguishing the Light by B. Alan Bourgeois

Over Coffee: A conversation For Gay Partnership & Conservative Faith by D.a. Thompson

Dark Knowledge by Kenneth Low

Janet Planet by Eleanor Lerman

The Kairos by Paul E. Hartman

Wrestling with Jesus by D.K.Maylor

Kali Rising by Rudolph Ballentine

The Missing Myth by Gilles Herrada

The Secret of the Second Coming by Howard E. Cook

The Scar Letters: A Novel by Richard Alther

The Future is Queer by Labonte & Schimel

Missing Mary by Charlene Spretnak

Gay Spirituality 101 by Joe Perez

Cut Hand: A Nineteeth Century Love Story on the American Frontier by Mark Wildyr

Radiomen by Eleanor Lerman

Nights at Rizzoli by Felice Picano

The Key to Unlocking the Closet Door by Chelsea Griffo

The Door of the Heart by Diana Finfrock Farrar

Occam’s Razor by David Duncan

Grace and Demion by Mel White

Gay Men and The New Way Forward by Raymond L. Rigoglioso

The Dimensional Stucture of Consciousness by Samuel Avery

The Manly Pursuit of Desire and Love by Perry Brass

“God,” space aliens, mystical knowledge, the secret of the universe, an alien breed of dogs, the true meaning of religion



a novel

by Eleanor Lerner

The Permanent Press
288 pages, ISBN 978-1-57962-383-8

reviewed by Toby Johnson

5 stars

I really liked this book. And thoroughly enjoyed the compelling quality of the read.

With Radiomen, poet and novelist Eleanor Lerman has written another roman-
a-clef-style novel that swiftly pulls the reader into its quasi-historical, magical, surrealist world.
Lerman is author of Janet Planet which I previously reviewed quite favorably. I liked that book too. It was also about the mysterious side of reality. Janet Planet was an imaginary history of what might have happened in the life of the real world writer Carlos Castenada, the Hispanic ethnologist who supposedly met and studied with a Yaqui Indian shaman and psychedelic guide named Don Juan. Don Juan and Castenada became major characters in the psychedelic cult of the 1970s. It was never clear what was real and what was fictional in Castenada’s series of books or what really happened to him and his three wives who disappeared without a trace following his death in 1998.

Radiomen, set a few months after the 9/11 collapse of the World Trade Towers with flashbacks to the 1960s, similarly, imagines how and why a character, modeled on L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology, might have been inspired—and compelled—to create a modern, sci-fi like, religion, one with a cult-following, rumors of coersion, mistreatment and defrauding of believers, AND great popularity in Hollywood including even a certain easily recognized actor. But the story isn’t about the good or bad side/truth or falsity of “Blue Awareness,” as the religion is called in the novel, but about the quest for contact with alien visitors which might have driven Howard Gilmartin, founder of Blue Awareness, and his son Raymond, into the world-changing role as prophet, seeker of the secret history of the universe, and
possible con-man and crook.

Radiomen is told in the first person of Laurie Perzin, a middle-aged woman working as a bartender at Kennedy Airport in Queens. A lot of the book—peculiarly perhaps or maybe very appropriately—involves accounts of Laurie’s travels around Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, by train, by subway, by black-market unlicensed taxi, by car, by foot. She’s always on the move.

The narrative voice is a little bored and tired and a little desperate and insistent. From the very start I found myself pulled into the mystery behind the curious event which starts her hero-journey, wondering why she was so reluctant and blasť about something that seemed so important and interesting. She calls in to the late night radio program of a new-age, fringe phenomena enthusiast, talk-show host modeled on the real life Art Bell, and out of the blue is told by his guest, a clairvoyant psychic (and, we’ll learn, a member of the Blue Awareness inner circle), about an event in her childhood she’s always remembered with a certain skepticism and a certain dread.

It turns out to be characteristic of the narrator that instead of engaging the psychic on the radio and finding out what this strange revelation is about, she shuts down and denies that she recognizes the memory. Why? What was that event?

Throughout the novel, Laurie seems to have to be pushed, practically kicking and screaming, into each next step in the unfolding discovery that her favorite uncle, Avi Perzin, who’d been an amateur ham radio operator in the mid-20th century, with his home-built radio had made some kind of contact with aliens. It turns out that the uncle had also been involved with Howard Gilmartin and the start of the Blue Awareness cult. And, now that they know she’s out there because she called the guest psychic, that Blue Awareness inner circle gets quite interested in what pieces of radio equipment Avi Perzin just might have left to his niece.

Laurie Perzin’s resistance to the hero journey suddenly splayed out before her just made me more curious and compelled to keep reading. I, the reader, too felt that sense of dread yet couldn’t put the book down because I had to know what this was about.

What it’s about is interstellar communication, late night radio, fringe phenomena, contact with extraterrestrials, their visit to the Dogon People of West Central Africa and a breed of dog they left behind, Blue Awareness/Scientology as a vehicle for wisdom and secret knowledge, a cosmic version of a world-wide-web transmitting messages out into the “Wild Blue Yonder,” and, very importantly, what the aliens’ think about God.

The main character’s journey then, in a way, is to find God, or at least to discover what’s behind the human—and alien—quest for connection to the mystery that’s mythologized as “God.” At the end, Laurie seems to have overcome her resistance and found a kind of meaning for her life.

That’s everybody’s goal, of course. Everybody’s life can be just a series of days and weeks and years to get through—trips across town. OR, if one wakens to the mystery and allure of a deeper and wider consciousness that transcends that quotidian existence, then you can get more…

That’s the punch line of the book: “What did I want? I wanted more.”

There actually is a “punch line” in the plot, a
climactic moment when Laurie is actually graced with a vision of the alien “radioman” and the realization of what it is they’re broadcasting through this cosmos-wide-web. And though that punch line is actually given away in the descriptive blurb on the cover, it’s a thrill to get to it in the course of the reading.

“God,” space aliens, mystical knowledge, the secret of the universe, an alien breed of dogs, the true meaning of religion—what more could you ask for from a novel. It’s all very understated; the protagonist is always reluctant and always a little bored and distracted, but in the end she gets the vision, she gets mystery, she discovers her life in the greater, grander scheme of things. AND she gets to keep the dog.

UFOs and alien abduction certainly are a focal point for wonder these days, a kind of quasi-scientific mythology about the nature of the greater cosmos. This book is a contribution to that crucial discussion of our time.

rainbow line

Toby Johnson, PhD is author of eight books: three non-fiction books that apply the wisdom of his teacher and "wise old man," Joseph Campbell to modern-day social and religious problems, three gay genre novels that dramatize spiritual issues at the heart of gay identity, and two books on gay men's spiritualities and the mystical experience of homosexuality. In addition to the novels featured elsewhere in this web site, Johnson is author of IN SEARCH OF GOD IN THE SEXUAL UNDERWORLD and THE MYTH OF THE GREAT SECRET (Revised edition): AN APPRECIATION OF JOSEPH CAMPBELL.

Johnson's Lammy Award winning book GAY SPIRITUALITY: The Role of Gay Identity in the Transformation of Human Consciousness was published in 2000. His Lammy-nominated book  GAY PERSPECTIVE: Things Our Homosexuality Tells Us about the Nature of God and the Universe was published by Alyson in 2003. Both books are available now from Lethe Press.

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