Magazine Reviews

Excerpts from reviews of Ceremonies at the time of publication


Cathcart successfully creates a town full of different voices that all ring true, almost a queer equivalent of “Our Town.” As both an uncommon literary form and a celebration of a gay community at its birth, this is a wholly appropriate first publication for Calamus Books. 

Bay Windows (Boston, Massachusetts), March 27, 2003 issue, Review, “Affecting Everybody,” J.S. Hall,


It was not easy to read “Ceremonies” although it is well written with characters that provoke a response from the reader. At times I felt empowered, angry, sad and ashamed. It is because Cathcart has created such true, full characters that I needed to read “Ceremonies” in carefully spaced segments of time.

I remember what it is like to be sexually assaulted because you are gay. The hard part is that “Ceremonies” will make you remember all these things as well. And if you don’t remember, then you need to read this book because it’s part of our history.  By “Ceremonies’” end, Cathcart reminds us of how fragile acceptance and tolerance can be and how vulnerable we still are. Ceremonies deserves to be read for its honest portrayal of what it means to be LGBTQ in America, for its reminder that past can too often become future.

Out in the Mountains (Burlington, Vermont), September 9, 2002 issue, Review, “How We Survived,” Keith E. Goslant


“Ceremonies,” by Dwight Cathcart, Calamus Books, $18.95.  In this erudite debut, the murder of a gay newcomer prompts the non-heterosexual inhabitants of Cardiff, Maine, to unite in grief and anger.  With a sprawling cast of characters that traverse gender, class, and age, “Ceremonies” is as much a meditation on the birth of the gay community on a national level as it is a queer equivalent of “Our Town.” 

Washington Blade (Washington, D.C.), January 3, 2003,  Review, “2002’s Best Books,” J.S.Hall


A gay man walking over a bridge in a town in Maine is attacked, beaten, and thrown into the water by three teenaged boys. He drowns, the boys are arrested, and the story makes the national papers. It’s an act of violence that could happen anywhere. It did happen in 1984 in Bangor, Maine, when Charles Howard was murdered. Violence never occurs in a vacuum. Dwight Cathcart’s wonderful debut novel—based on Charles Howard’s murder—details how the crime changed the lives of nearly a dozen people and the city in which they live. 

Weaving a seamless web connecting the personal to the political, the inner life to the world around us, Cathcart makes clear that the vibrancy of being gay, or queer, or homosexual resides in each individual and can be the catalyst that moves us to insight and often to action. 

So often works of fiction that are inspired by “real” events are overshadowed by the harshness or vividness of their inspiration. Dwight Cathcart’s splendid novel transfigures Charlie Howard’s murder into something that mediates our rage to understanding, our sorrow to our ability to challenge and change the world. 

The Guide (Boston, Massachusetts), June 2002 issue, Review, “Water’s Ripples: An anti-gay murder refracts through a small town’s life,” Michael Bronski


In his first novel, “Ceremonies,” Dwight Cathcart peels back a a painful moment in Maine history—the homophobic killing of Charles O Howard, thrown by teenagers from a bridge in Bangor 18 years ago.

And he peels it back like an onion. Cathcart reveals layer after layer of meaning for Maine people, whatever their sexual orientation.

“Ceremonies” is a novel rooted in serious issues.  It is a novel rooted, too, in questions that lack easy answers….He has taken a vicious real-life crime and placed it in a fictional form at the heart of a wide-ranging novel.  Moreover, he has done so with solid writing and a willingness to follow his theme wherever it leads.  That takes courage.  It makes “Ceremonies” an achievement worth celebrating.

Portland Sunday Telegram (Portland, Maine), December 29, 2002, Review, “Nobody Escapes Novelist’s Look at Gay Man’s Death,” Nancy Grape