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Cover of I Loved You More

Tom Spanbauer

I Loved You More

  • fiction
  • ISBN 978-0-9860007-8-2

Tom Spanbauer’s first novel in seven years is a rich and expansive tale of love, sex, and heartbreak covering 25 years. At the heart of the book is a love triangle: two men, one woman, all of them writers.  The first chapters are set in the mid-80s in New York City. At Columbia, Ben forms a bond with his macho friend, Hank. Their bond is deep and ostensibly formed around their love of writing.  But they soon find out their love is more than literary. As C.S. Lewis says, friendship is homosexual.  Hank is straight, though, on the Kinsey scale a zero, which means no men. Ben is a five, which means an occasional woman. But both are artists, and this affection between them is a force. How do you measure love?

The second part of the book, almost a decade later, takes place in Portland, Oregon. A now-ill Ben falls for Ruth, his writing student. Their affection, like Hank’s and Ben’s, begins with how the heart is laid bare on the written page. Affection grows into love, but it is not an equal love.  Ruth provides the care and devotion Ben needs, but Ben’s just too broken, Ruth is one of his occasional women, and as Ben has found out with Hank, loving has its limits. 

Ben and Ruth are in their uneasy second year when Hank visits Ben in Portland.  On a whim, Ben introduces Hank to Ruth.  And the real trouble starts. 

For what no man doth believe/the gods can bring about.

Set against a world of writers and artists, New York’s Lower East Side in the wild 80s, the drab confining Idaho of Ben’s youth, Portland in his middle age, and the many places in between, the complex world disclosed in I Loved You More, written in the poisoned, lyrical voice of Ben, is the author’s most complex and wise novel to date.


Finalist, Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Fiction

Publishing Triangle

The Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award for Outstanding Contributions to Oregon’s Literary Life

Literary Arts Oregon Book Awards

Lambda Literary Award Winner Fiction

Lambda Literary

Best of 2015: Fiction

Tin House

Related News

15 September 2016

Carlos Pons Guerra includes Tom Spanbauer along with the other great artists as an important interdisciplinary influence.  “... I hope my many sources of inspiration, the worlds I like to inhabit artistically-–in this case, Jean Genet, Almódovar, Tom Spanbauer, ballet archetypes-–are also there, too.”

“Mariposa: A trans, Caribbean re-imagining of Madame Butterfly,” by Gareth Johnson for Gay Star News

Carlos Pons Guerra’s new work in development for DeNada Dance Theatre is Mariposa – a transgender, Caribbean reimagining of Madame Butterfly....Forward

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Praise for I Loved You More

Tom Spanbauer’s I Loved You More is the most important book on sexuality, love, and the low down of relationships that I have ever read.  The brilliant language is an epic ballad so deeply rendered it killed me and resurrected me a page at a time.  This book is not a love story. It guts the heart of the cliché love story and hands it back to you, beating. Love is the endless falling.

Lidia Yuknavitch
Author of Dora: A Headcase

A great read, I Loved You More is a brutal and beautiful book of love, sex, and friendship that begins in the impossible but totally mesmerizing decade of the 1980s and spans the next twenty years.

Sam Adams, Former Mayor of Portland, Oregon

Intelligence, wit, generosity, love, wisdom, insight, humility, guts, heart-crushing truth and spirit-lifting grace—it’s all there in I Loved You More. This is Tom Spanbauer’s wrenching and beautiful masterpiece.

Cheryl Strayed
Author of Wild

A masterful novel of what becomes of us long after we’ve “come of age” and done all the brave things we thought would save us. Tom Spanbauer’s pages pulse with life in all its messy beauty.

Ariel Gore
Publisher of Hip Mama Magazine and author of How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead: Your Words in Print and Your Name in Lights

Tom Spanbauer, gifted anatomist of messy emotions and rangy sexuality, returns with I Loved You More.

Elissa Schappell, Vanity Fair

It’s a classic triangle and it unfolds with all the wit, sexual candor, and humility that Spanbauer can summon. All his novels, and this one in particular, embody the advice a rock critic once gave his young protégé: “The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.”

Angie Jabine, The Oregonian

I Loved You More is the most personal book we’ve seen yet from an author who’s important to so many of us. It reads like the deliberate unpacking of one man’s personal mythology - self-delusion and doubt and vanity and anger and lust and all the bad parts, along with the good.

Alison Hallett, The Portland Mercury

While Shakespeare offered us cross-dressing as a way to push beyond the binary notion of love, Cunningham and now Spanbauer have given us a more complex view of human sexuality, and what it means to really love someone.

Melissa Duclos, Book Trib

Portland author Tom Spanbauer could be considered responsible for some of the best and most widely recognized contemporary writing to come out of the Pacific Northwest, both in his own acclaimed novels like Faraway Places and Now Is the Hour as well as from the authors who have emerged from the writing group he founded, like Chuck Palahniuk, Chelsea Cain and Cheryl Strayed. Spanbauer’s fifth novel and newest release, I Loved You More, follows the themes of his previous work by examining the heartbreak of relationships and deeper issues of sexuality.

Penelope Bass, The Willamette Week

I Loved You More is very right now, and yet it’s also timeless. I thought of Hemingway’s unfinished novel, “Garden of Eden” — a book about a young married couple who bring another woman into their relationship, and before long the marriage is in pieces – as I read Tom’s book…It’s a hell of a book.

Michael Goldberg, Days of the Wild Crazy

No magical realism. No myth or legend. No Chinook winds. Just a man and his life and what it meant to him. The bad parts and the good parts, and what those parts have assembled.  [I Loved You More]is beautiful and brilliant and every other positive adjective I can rain down upon it.

Rob Hart, Lit Reactor

The fireworks that ensue between these strong-willed people over the course of book—not to mention the raw psychic scars and corrosive feelings that are ever-prevalent—are gripping. Spanbauer’s talent is to collide all emotions against one another, quite often on the same page and sometimes in the same paragraph.

Christopher Carbone, Kirkus Reviews

Spanbauer simply unpacks imagery, events, and dialogue without judgment, allowing the reader to come to their own conclusions. If anything, I Loved You More provides an empathic view of bisexual relationships as the most natural in the world, perhaps the most generous expression of love and shared strength for the survival of humanity.

Rachel Wexelbaum, Lambda Literary

I Loved You More is breathtaking for its audacity. Spanbauer is unflinching as he looks at physical need and carnal desire…He certainly does plunge into territory that many writers would not dare approach. And while he runs the risk of having readers interpret his work as exhibitionism, Spanbauer probably would argue it would be more outrageous still not to acknowledge that such complexities exist and deserve to be considered.

Barbara Lloyd McMichael, The Seattle Times

[I Loved You More] is the sort of lifelong story of adoration and refusal and unrequited love that John Irving made his fortune on, but it’s better than that, because it’s delivered in Spanbauer’s gorgeous voice.

Paul Constant, The Stranger

I Loved You More is about the power of words. There are many passages in the novel that achieve dizzying heights of unabashed beauty and lyricism.

Sally Hessney, A&U: American's AIDS Magazine

Spanbauer relays from the start that Hank succumbs to cancer before he and Ben can make up the rift that springs from Ben’s jealousy, so once the destruction unfolds in the final act, it happens at a riveting, fast pace. By turns poignant and funny, Spanbauer’s story rings true at every turn.

Starred Review, Publishers Weekly

At Elliott Bay Book Co. in Seattle last month, Spanbauer treated a packed house to a portion of I Loved You More that serves as an overture to its torrid relationships. Closing the book, he took a moment to regain himself before taking questions. He said, “People ask me why I write, and I tell them it’s because I can’t cry and speak at the same time.”

Dave Wheeler, Shelf Awareness

Feelings are complex, and love is never really just love, and Grunewald (and by default to some degree, Spanbauer), realizes this. There is a lot to love about this book

Matty Byloos, Nailed Magazine

Ben Grunewald is an outspoken character whom readers will fall in love with.

Spanbauer has crafted a meticulously conceived and executed novel brimming with heart, soul, and the unique kind of affections found in both platonic and romantic love.

Jim Piechota, Bay Area Reporter

This is a book about taking your whole life to be able to tell your own love story—not the one you are supposed to have, but the one that is yours—and then telling it as truthfully as possible.

Valerie Stivers, HTMLGIANT