Category Archives: GLBT memoir and/or biography

“My Guru and His Disciple” by Christopher Isherwood— Isherwood’s Worldliness and Holiness

Isherwood, Christopher. “My Guru and His Disciple”, Picador Reprint, 2020.

Isherwood’s Worldliness and Holiness

Amos Lassen

Christopher Isherwood’s “My Guru and His Disciple” is his portrait of his spiritual instructor, Swami Prabhavananda, the Hindu priest who was his guide for some thirty years. This is also a book about worldliness and holiness in Isherwood’s own life. Isherwood was known for his sexual excesses, all-night drinking bouts, fast cars, scriptwriting, intellectual bouts and his six-month period of celibacy and sobriety. 

He was driven by both sensuality and spirituality, abandon and discipline and in his book he writes about the passionate dialectic between these drives. Here is a memoir of Isherwood’s apprenticeship in Vedanta practice and a loving portrait of Prabhavananda. We read of the beginnings of the settling of eastern wisdom teachings on western shores in southern California. Isherwood writes of his struggles with Vedanta practices and ideas and of his homosexuality and sexual adventures. We move between reflective historical and personal accounts and excepts from Isherwood’s diaries. But the book is mostly about Swami who Isherwood devotedly loved. He was a real person who does not seem to have an ego hang-ups. He was patient with and devoted to his students but he “didn’t stand in the way of the light” or put his mind in the way of things – he let it shine through everything he did. The Swami’s selflessness was his deep love, simple ease, warmth, sense of humor and patience.

This is a book of confessions that gives insight into Isherwood’s complicated character based partly from his diaries and his progress of ‘enlightenment’ through the guidance of a Hindu holy man whose own authenticity was perhaps dubious. “My Guru and His Disciple” is an enlightening that has improved with age. I first read it many years ago and found it boring back then. Isherwood was not too good at the Hindu discipline and only took it up when he couldn’t find another source of entertainment. He was unaware of the perplexities to be encountered in inner searches for the meaning of life and so on, or to be unaware either that no ultimate answers have ever been found, other than that every individual has to discover his own. There are several  prolonged speculations, uncertainties and lapses and these made it hard to follow at times.

It is hard for me to understand how a man like Isherwood with such literary talent desired to leave the material world behind and follow an Indian holy man into a Hindu cult. Isherwood never was completely successful in renouncing worldly pursuits, especially sexual relationships, though he briefly took up residence in the temple and aspired to be a monk. Nonetheless, his friendship with the guru was strong enough to withstand a return to his hedonistic and heretical lifestyle. The two men shared a complex relationship. Isherwood adored and revered the man and had an ordinary friendship with him that lasted over thirty years.

“Cuban Son Rising” by Charles Gomez— Keeping a Secret

Gomez, Charles. “Cuban Son Rising”, Koehler Books, 2020.

Keeping s Secret

Amos Lassen

As a journalist Charles Gomez dug up the truth but deep inside, he hid a life-shattering secret. As a Latin American Correspondent for CBS News, Charles Gomez has covered stories in 23 Latin American countries and the Caribbean. He covered the Nicaraguan Civil War, the ouster of dictator Anastasio Somoza, the Civil War in El Salvador and the Mariel Boatlift in Cuba. He has interviewed Fidel Castro, Nicaraguan President Anastasio Somoza, El Salvadoran President Jose Napolean Duarte, Jamaican President Edward Seaga,  ​​and Ferdinand, Imelda Marcos and many others.

He has worked as an NBC News West Coast Correspondent and has covered two national conventions (RNC-1972 and DNC-1988). He also worked for WPLG-TV in Miami, WBBM-TV in Chicago, WNBC and WWOR in New York City and is the recipient of an Emmy Award for news (1993) and the Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Journalism.

Gomez faced down dictators and he seemed to be at the top of his profession.  He is the son of a Cuban immigrant who was terrified to expose his sexuality and AIDS diagnosis and he found himself spiraling into depression and drugs— this nearly destroyed him. Gomez’s memoir “Cuban Son Rising” is an honest and raw memoir  that shares his lifelong battle to overcome stigma and self-loathing and he does so in detail. Gomez’s story includes interviews with despots and the front lines of civil wars to his quiet struggles seeking his father’s acceptance. He lived a lifetime of anxiety and regret but now Gomez embarks on an emotional journey with his father to his homeland. He worries about being rejected by his father and we are with him as he hopes to survive and triumph over the fear that has held him back on a personal level.

“What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life” by Mark Doty— Biogaphy, Criticism and Memoir

Doty, Mark. “What Is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life”,W.W. Norton, 2020,

Biography Criticism and Memoir

Amos Lassen

Writer Mark Doty brings together biography, criticism, and memoir as he explores his personal quest for Walt Whitman. He says that he has always felt haunted by “Walt Whitman’s bold, perennially new American voice, and by his equally radical claims about body and soul and what it means to be a self.” In “What Is the Grass”, Doty traces “the resonances between his own experience” and Whitman’s life and work. Whitman asks “What is it then between us?”. Doty searches for an answer, both externally and internally. He meditates on desire, love, and the poet’s enduring work which is a radical experience of transformation and enlightenment, queer sexuality, and an obsession with death and the love for a great city and the character of American speech. Through close readings with personal memoir and illuminated by wonder, Doty shows the power of Whitman’s presence in his life and in the American imagination. What we have is a conversation across time and space, a look at the “astonishment” that Doty finds in Whitman, and his attempt to understand Whitman’s vision of human possibility.

I believe that many gay men have read all or parts of ‘Leaves of Grass’ looking for the lines, that speak to me as a gay male. I understood that such lines of poetry were there and I wanted to know what another gay male, a poet felt about desire. Doty proves that he can give a scholarly look at the work and then write about in ways we can all understand. He delves into the meaning he sees of various passages that Whitman is not afraid to write about and thereby expose.  Doty covers “the etymology of words used and the newness of their use in his collection, the edits he makes over time, the typeset of his words, the quiet, blank spaces, his innovations, and the movement and placement of various passages in different editions.”

Doty sees Whitman as a man both of his time, and out of his time. He further explores Whitman’s family, his readings, his mentors, his motivations, his influence on writers who came after him, and his drives. He writes of Whitman’s genius and how that genius changed the face of American poetry as well as that of the world.  

I once met Mark Doty when he was the guest of the Little Rock, Arkansas library system. Here was a man who inspired me with his poems and who never hid his sexuality. The transparency of his writings show him as both a strong and weak person (like all of us). I was very proud to shake his hand.

As he looks at various passages from Whitman, he says he feels Whitman is speaking directly to him and to the rest of us. Whitman is present in all of our lives and we see that in how his poetry remains relevant through the ages. What Doty captures so beautifully is Whitman’s genius.

Reading Doty, we learn how to read Whitman closely as he shows us how the poems reflect incidents in his own life and those of his  contemporaries. Doty’s own ruminations on art, queerness, humanism, and the American experience are woven into Whitman’s life and vice versa.

Doty’s life and words are on a par with Whitman’s. He examines Whitman’s life, work, worldview, and his cosmic theology. As he does, he takes us into his own life in candid episodes. Language comes alive and we see meaning and purpose in the world. What the two poets share the most is faith in language. Doty’s relationship with Whitman is intimate in its “reality and in all that it imagines”.

“What is the Grass” is a sublime read that is fully of grace and intimacy. It made me feel alive again while being quarantined and I was reawaken to the power of language and the beauty of words.

“Heaven” by Emerson Whitney— Understanding Relationships

Whitney, Emerson, “Heaven”, McSweeney’s, 2020.

Understanding Relationships

Amos Lassen

At the center of Whitney Emerson’s “Heaven” is their desire to  understand their relationship to their mother and grandmother. These were Whitney’s first look at  womanhood and all of its consequences. Emerson retraces a roving youth in prose that is deeply observant and  psychedelic but using the work of thinkers like Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, and C. Riley Snorton to unite transness and the nature of selfhood. 

This is an expansive examination of what makes us up, looking at what kind of role childhood plays in who we are. Is it possible to exclude causality and whether or not our bodies really belong to us. Emerson moves between theory and memory in order to explore these.

Emerson Whitney traces intellectual and emotional research, writing, and observations on gender and bodies through their family history. They make statements about femininity needing to include more and that gender really does not belong to anybody any longer.  We explore what’s ‘natural’ about the ‘unnatural’ and all the problematics of that. Whitney is rigorous with their mind and soul and asks how much of heredity is suggestion and how can anyone pinpoint the impact of nature or nurture when examining a human being. Emerson asks if it is better to simply listen and exercise unconditional acceptance as well as love. This is the story of the generational links between mothers and daughters. 

 Whitney is totally aware of the texture of moments that describe their own history in a way that holds back on what wasn’t understood at the age when something happening or isn’t remembered, or isn’t the focus; and yet, what they write makes everything important. 
Emerson includes many personal moments that become essential and public as their story mixes with theory on gender, sexuality, childhood, and psychology. 

Whitney turns coming-of-age inside out as they examine selfhood in relation to their mother, adds a layer of theory, and delivers a memoir that will stay with the reader long after the book is closed.

This is a frank and absorbing examination of transness, brokenness, mothering, femininity, embodiment and truth. 

“Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary” by Tom Rastrelli— Living a Double Life

Rastrelli, Tom. “Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary”, University of Iowa Press, 2020.

Living a Double Life

Amos Lassen

Tom Rastrelli shares  the clandes­tine inner workings of the seminary and gives us an intimate and unapologetic look into the psychosexual and spiritual dynamics of celibacy.  He writes of  the “formation” system that perpetuates the cycle of abuse and cover-up that continues today. 

While at college, he came under the guidance of a charismatic college campus minister as he was trying to reconcile his homosexuality and childhood sexual abuse. He felt called to the priesthood and so be­gan the process of “priestly discernment.” Priests welcomed him into a confusing clerical culture where public displays of piety, celibacy, and homophobia hid a closeted underworld in which elder priests preyed upon young recruits. Rastrelli went deeper into the seminary system seeking healing, hoping to help others, and striving not to live a double life. He had been trained to treat sexuality as an addiction yet he and his brother seminarians lived in a world of cliques, competition, self-loathing, alcohol, hidden crushes, and closeted sex. The “for­mation” intended to make Rastrelli a compliant priest and this what helped to liberate him. By demanding celibacy and damning homosexuality, the Catholic Church condemns its best and brightest priests to lives of hypocrisy and shame. Rastrelli shares his struggle with heart, wit, and courage.

“Confessions of a Gay Priest: A Memoir of Sex, Love, Abuse, and Scandal in the Catholic Seminary” lets us know what to expect and it is quite an emotional read.  I became angry at the Church hierarchy that allowed the things described here to continue to go on for decade after decade. Those at the top, the only people who could have possibly stopped the kind of abuse described by Rastrelli, allowed it to continue and covered up for the criminals by transferring them from parish to parish or seminary to seminary every time it appeared that the truth was in any danger of being exposed. I am simply unable to understand how anyone can remain a member of the church knowing his. At the beginning of my teaching career, I taught at a Christian Brothers boarding school in Louisiana where the brothers were quite proud of the fact that they had hired a Jew. I will never forget some of the things I saw there going on between the brothers and between some of the brothers and their students. The story finally broke and two of the brothers are now serving life sentences in prison.

This is Rastrelli’s personal story. He was a naïve gay teenager who called to the priesthood. He’s a handsome man, and as a young man he was targeted by an authority figure in his parish church that was eager to take advantage of his confusion about his sexuality and the role of gay men in the Church. Having survived that relationship, Rastrelli was immediately targeted by a mentor-priest of authority at the seminary where he would spend the next four years of his life. During these four years, Rastrelli struggled to live up to the Church’s celibacy requirement while being sexually abused and exploited by some of the very people responsible for his physical and mental well-being as a seminarian. 

Somehow, Rastrelli managed to survive the seminary experience and become a Catholic priest. Father Rastrelli began to question the hypocrisy of the church elders and came to understand that the corruption and cover-up of the predatory sexual nature of some of his fellow priests came from the top down and went all the way to Rome. He received no support from his Archbishop when he exposed what he had witnessed and what happened to him personally. Rastrelli’s desperate cry for help left him suicidal and facing a nervous breakdown.
This is a sad story that does not end well for Rastrelli or the Church even though Rastrelli has a new career. What is so infuriating is the way that the church hierarchy continued/continues to hide the sexual abusers in its ranks and create thousands of new victims year after year.  

Rastrelli writes with a commitment to hon­esty understanding about the meaning of faith. I was not shocked about what I read aside from being surprised that Rastrelli has put it down in print.

“Witches Sabbath” by Maurice Sachs— Maurice Sachs— 1906-1945

Sachs, Maurice. “Witches’ Sabbath”, translated by Richard Howard, Spurl, 2020.

Maurice Sachs— 1906-1945

Amos Lassen

“Witches’ Sabbath” is the autobiography of French gay Jewish author Maurice Sachs (1906-1945). Sachs felt that this was “a statement of account, a moral memo. Or should I say immoral?” He shares how, as a young man, he was a friend of Jean Cocteau and Coco Chanel, both of whom he stole from, just as he stole from many others in his life (Sachs proposed writing a book entitled “Confessions of a Thief”). He tells of when, in 1925, he converted to Catholicism and entered a seminary but was expelled because of his homosexuality. He tells of drifting through America, of when he nearly drank himself to death, of his many failed love affairs. While this is a compelling, honest portrait of a unique character, “Witches’ Sabbath” is also an engagement with literature. Every period of Sachs’ life is marked by his dialogue with living and dead authors including members of the French literary elite— Charles Baudelaire, Marcel Proust, Stendhal and others. His lifelong obsession with literature let Sachs developed a style all his own— his writing is of acerbic portraits of his contemporaries, sometimes picaresque, introspective and filled with irony.

Sachs’s character sketches are filled with of venom. The translator, Richard Howard, had a rough job but has accomplished it admirably. This English version will interest those who desire to recapture the intellectual and artistic life of Paris in the Twenties.

We read of the competing and often contradictory currents of between-the-wars France. Originally published after the Second World War, Sachs was shot on a forced march from a German concentration camp.”

I must admit that I anticipated something much eviller that what this is. Yes, Sachs lived a wild life. He was born to non-religious Jewish parents in Paris, went to school in England where he discovered, enjoyed and enthusiastically practiced his homosexuality. Returning to  France, he converted to Catholicism and started training for the priesthood until he was kicked out after his sexuality was discovered. Later on, he went to the United States, converted to Protestantism, and was married for a short time to the daughter of a preacher. He returned to Paris with a steady American boyfriend  and hit bottom. He describes the seedy hotel where they were staying at the time  and made me itch as I read. Throughout, Sachs was involved in several shady business schemes and suffered from alcoholism. Yet, he managed to write and befriend a number of famous writers. During the war, a period not covered by the book, he worked for the Gestapo for some time before being sent to a concentration camp himself and was killed during a forced march to another camp in 1945. 

He was just 39 when an SS bullet entered his neck. His life ended as a Hollywood
fantasy. He was a self-destructive French charmer, cad, deceiver, thief who had no morality whatsoever. This memoir and his other writings make him an infamous underground literary figure.

Sach’s  memoir was finished in 1942, the year before he was arrested by the Gestapo. Reportedly an informer, Sachs even double-crossed the deadliest thugs .  When he was just 15 years old he helped his mother (his  father deserted them years earlier) flee to England after she bilked a friend out of thousands. He never saw her again. In his teens, he became involved in the literary/art scene and used relatives and male sex workers to gain a place. He always seemed to be out on the town with his pals. Men were his pleasure.
Meeting Maritain, he decided to convert to Catholicism and become a priest. He gives an intense explanation of his need for Godliness. Then, feeling religious pressures, he’s off to see Glenway Westcott and Rebecca West at Juan-les-Pins. He claimed that kneeling at a long Mass, he explains, gave him an erection. 

When finding himself hungry, he goes to work for Coco Chanel, creating a library for her. He makes money, wastes it and owes Chanel who fires him. For consolation he goes to a male brothel that was furnished by Proust.

He goes to America and marries the daughter of a minister in Smalltown, USA but rushes back to France – with a boyfriend right after the honeymoon.  He began his downward spiral into alcohol and soon his life was over being shot as a Jew, the religion he left.
His autobiography is fascinating and disturbing.

Parts of this read more like a novel than an autobiography. Sachs lived life to excess, drank too much, had sex too much and stole too much. He actually wrote much deeply about his interest in Catholicism than he did about his time of “vice”. During his most decadent periods, he never really seemed to enjoy himself, He had alcoholism but succumbed to it. He went from having lots of money to being very poor. Yet it was during his time of poverty and living with the man that he really loved that his book shines. I could not help but wonder if his despair came from his being a queer Jewish man living in a prejudiced society. I also wonder, knowing the extent of his lies, how much of Sachs’s story is actually true.

Motherland: A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing” by Elissa Altman— Mother and Daughter

Altman, Elissa. “Motheland A Memoir of Love, Loathing, and Longing” Ballantine , 2019.

Mother and Daughter

Amos Lassen

Elissa Altman survived a traumatic childhood in New York in the 1970s  and a young adult she lived in the shadow of Rita, her flamboyant mother, a makeup-addicted former television singer. Somehow, she  has managed to build a very different life, now living in Connecticut with her wife of nearly twenty years.  It was not easy and took a lot of “time, therapy, and wine”. She feels that she is finally in a  safe and healthy place. She keeps her far enough away so that Elissa can have a stable, independent world  and career— she is a writer and editor. But then Rita, a “flaneur” who flits around Manhattan fell and becomes completely dependent upon Elissa making her confront their differences. Rita yearns for beauty and glamour; she sees the world through her days in the spotlight. Her money has gone to her preserving her youth. Now, forced to sustain their fragile mother-daughter bond, Elissa must deal with their shared lives and the challenges of caregiving for someone who refuses help, is a  narcissist “and the mutual, frenetic obsession that has defined their relationship.”

To read this is to be touched by it. We see a great deal about maternal love, moral obligation, the choices women make about motherhood, and the possibility of healing. Altman writes with tenderness and irreverence about herself, her mother and unforgettable characters as she explores leaving the past behind and then having it return. Her book shows the power of family and love,

The story is  an intimate and fascinating look at complex mother-daughter attachments. The relationship is codependent. We read of role reversals in parent-child relationships that are entertaining and painful.

“The Archive of Alternate Endings” by Lindsey Dragger— Looking at Stories

Drager, Lindsey. “The Archive of Alternate Endings”, Dzanc Books , 2019.

Looking at Stories

Amos Lassen

In “The Archive of Alternate Endings”, writer Lindsey Drager follows the evolution of Hansel and Gretel at seventy-five-year intervals that correspond with earth’s visits by Halley’s Comet. The book looks at how stories are disseminated and shared, edited and censored, voiced and left untold.

Drager imagines past happenings and fictionalizes historically-based stories from the lives of Johannes Gutenberg, Edmond Halley, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm and Ruth Coker Burke. The book is written with two themes: the story of Hansel and Gretel and homosexuality. The author brings both of them together seamlessly and in amazing ways. We see that the potential dissonance between considering a fairy tale and pondering sexual orientation is erased completely.

Visually, the book is gorgeous and filled with great historical tidbits. It jumps back and forth between characters, settings and time periods and every combination is filled with more emotion than the next. It comes in at just 168 pages, and can be read quickly but I reread it over and over because of its poignancy.

For anyone who enjoys being challenged to think or who loves beautiful writing, this is the book for you. The ideas presented here are meaningful. Drager does a wonderful job of illuminating the darker concepts and human relationships  as she gives us her take on connectedness and purpose and the immensity of existence.  Drager shows that our stories are related, our narratives are interlocking and we are never alone. Poetically she investigates queerness and gives us a philosophical meditation on the nature of stories.. by bringing together fairytale archetypes, astronomical phenomena and queer history.

The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America” by Eric Cervini— The Secret History of the Fight for Gay Rights

Cervini, Eric, “The Deviant’s War: The Homosexual vs. the United States of America”,  Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2020.

The Secret History of the Fight for Gay Rights

Amos Lassen

You will have to wait until June, 2020 to read Eric Cervini’s “The Deviant’s War’ but take my word for it, you will be glad to get a copy of this very important book.
In 1957, Frank Kameny was a rising astronomer who worked for the U.S. Defense Department in Hawaii. He was summoned to report immediately to Washington, D.C. to learn that the Pentagon had reason to believe he was a homosexual, and after several humiliating interviews, Kamen, like so many other gay men and women before him was promptly dismissed from his government job. Unlike so many others, Kameny fought back.

Eric Cervini’s gives us the story of what followed. Kameny became an early champion of gay liberation and he fought for the right to serve his country in the wake of Joseph McCarthy’s Lavender Scare. Cervini lets us Kameny as he explores the underground gay scenes of Boston and Washington, D.C., where he planned his arguments against the U.S. Government’s classification of gay men and women as “sexual perverts.” It was at this point in history that staying in the closet was the default yet Kameny exposed the hypocrisies of the American establishment, bringing to the fore a broader revolution in sexual morals. As he did this, he invented what today is known as Gay Pride.

Cervini’s research is stunningly amazing. He bases his book on firsthand account that were recently declassified in FBI records, and forty thousand personal documents. The story takes place over the course of the 1960s, as the Mattachine Society of Washington, the group Kameny founded, became the first organization to protest the systematic persecution of gay federal employees. We see the forgotten ties that existed between the gay community and  the Black Freedom Movement, the New Left, lesbian activism, and trans resistance.  While this is the story of gay liberation, it is also the story of this country as she sat at a cultural and sexual crossroads; of shocking public battles with Congress; of FBI informants; murder; betrayal; sex; love; and finally victory.

Kameny’s battle with the federal government to secure respect, dignity and equality for gays and lesbians was tenacious and courageous. He was a pioneer who helped open a path to a new and better world for LGBTQ Americans and for America.   Kameny’s firing opened the door for the gay community to use their cause for freedom. For the fifty years following that event, Kameny was found on the front lines and on every front line of the gay rights movement. He is responsible for government employees being able to live without the fear of being discovered and losing their jobs because of their sexuality. They could not earn their livings and serve their country. Kameny’s name is known to many but I doubt many know all that is included here.

We do not always remember that before there was a struggle for gay rights, there was the battle for Gay Liberation and even before that there was the Homophile Movement, a “foundational political formation reveals that highly alienated individuals―whose gifts and talents were rejected because of their homosexuality―found the courage to demand change”. They did so through direct confrontation with the state and it cost them. They tolerated stigma, poverty and anti-social labels and they forced the country to change and transform.

Not only is the book about that struggle; it is also a guidebook for activism. Frank Kameny’s legacy is the fight for human rights and we see here how he did what he did. He left behind a model for the rest of us. Here is what it means to live and survive in a world that doesn’t want gay people.

“My Real Hue” by Daniel Yves Eisner— Finding Understanding and Acceptance

Eisner, Daniel Yves. “My Real Hue”, Page Publishing, 2017.

Understanding and Acceptance

Amos Lassen

Daniel Yves Eisner’s “My Real Hue “ is the story of his journey to fully understand and accept himself despite his family. Covering some fifty years, we are reminded that adult life is affected by childhood. When we meet Eisner at a young age, we become immediately aware that his relationship with his parents is stormy and dysfunctional. Eisner soon learns that the only way to save himself is to cut off ties with them. Through Eisner’s journey , familial ideas are shattered and we see that it is the individual and not the family that comes first. He fights self-destruction, self-loathing, guilt, depression, stress and thoughts of suicide. We also see that, in some cases, separation from the family is the better road to a happy and fulfilling life.  

Eisner is a deeply sensitive person who is tormented by the ever-present pain of a domineering and denigrating mother and a passive indifferent father. His struggle to fully realize his homosexuality, is filled with colorful and very funny anecdotes – and memories that are bittersweet.  His relationship with Matthew, his partner is deep and caring.

That relationship brings about his identity and leads him to help others though friendships and working with. Disadvantaged students at a community college.  He is also the mentor of a gay writers group. Professionally he has been quite an achiever but he sees his personal relationships as the important aspects of his life.

Eisner’s parents are Holocaust survivors who came to New York to begin fresh lives. Having been raised Jewish, Eisner’s relationship with Judaism is strengthened by being involved in a congregation of a major Christian denomination.

After several humiliating escapades, Eisner confronts his mother demanding reconciliation. They reconcile through the obituary he wrote about his father that honors his family.

Not all parents are equipped to be nurturers and Eisner tried for many years as an obedient son to live up to the expectations of his narcissistic mother but realized that to do was an impossibility and not healthy. This is a story of overcoming heartache, pain, and life in general that is written bravely and in vivid prose.

Eisner understands that his mother negatively affected his life that his father did nothing to protect him. His attempts at freedom and liberation from his mother only came when he moved to a different state, owns his sexual orientation, finds love, and works at a successful career.

It was his parent’s 50th anniversary party that became the final straw and caused him to break the bond of family. It was after this party that he realized that his mother was sick and not  going to change and whose life would become one of pain and drama if he did not get out of the situation. 

In order to become his true self, Danny has to leave his dysfunctional family and refuse to be manipulated by his mother if he is to become the person he was meant to be. Eisner realized that his mother was incapable of loving him. He forced himself to made this hardest  decisions so that he could live  a true and honest life, create a supportive family of his own, and realize the happiness that he had not been privy to.