In this article I study two American novels in order to tease out the stakes, in boyhood studies, of viewing adolescence as a transition. In Gore Vidal’s The City and the Pillar and Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms, boy protagonists seem to suffer from arrested development or undergo a phase of sexual exploration. But such readings either define marriage and reproduction as the only way of growth, or envision a homo/hetero-identified subject who looks back on his adolescence as an experimental transition. In Vidal’s and Capote’s narratives, such a heteronormative life trajectory and homo/hetero subject do not exist. Since the narratives open the protagonists to the backward temporalities of return and the gothic, the narratives and the characters together thwart teleological or linearized notions of maturity and identity formation.