Category Archives: GLBT memoir and/or biography

“It Never Goes Away: Gender Transition at a Mature Age” by Anne Lauren Koch— The Gender Journey

Koch, Anne Lauren. “It Never Goes Away: Gender Transition at a Mature Age”, Rutgers university Press.

The Gender Journey

Amos Lassen

It seems to me that every day we learn something new about the transgender experience. On a personal level, I read whatever I can so that I can better understand my nephew who has recently transitioned from female to male. I understand that a transgender person lives with the feeling of wanting the body to match the sex that feels and that this feeling never goes away. For some, though, especially those who grew up before trans people were widely out and advocating for equality, these feelings were often compartmentalized and rarely acted upon. Now that gender reassignment has become much more commonplace, many transgendered individuals may feel increasing pressure to finally undergo the procedures they have always secretly wanted.
 
Ken Koch is one of those people. He had married twice, was a veteran, and a world traveler. Suffering a health scare when he was sixty-three pushed him to acknowledge the feelings that had plagued him since he was a small child. He underwent many procedures that radically changed his appearance and he became Anne Koch. However, during the transition, Anne lost everything that Ken had accomplished. She had to completely remake herself from the ground up. Hoping to help other people in her age bracket who may be considering transitioning, Anne describes the step by step procedures that she underwent and shares the cost to her personal life. She does this in order to show seniors that although it is never too late to become the person they always knew they were, it is better to go into that new life prepared for serious challenges.  This is both a fascinating memoir of a well-educated man growing up trans yet repressed in the mid-twentieth century, and a guidebook to navigating gender reassignment as a senior and it shares what is needed to be known. 

This is a must-read that is filled with both words of wisdom and lots of practical information for a journey  that until recently was a thought that  many times remained unfulfilled. Dr. Koch is a role model and humanitarian and provides us with an important example for families and friends who support their loved ones on their gender affirmation journey. Not only is this filled with information, it is authentic and a compelling personal narrative that is written with passion. It is written from the heart, revealing and inspirational. Here are experiences from a personal life merged with experiences from a professional life, something we rarely get. Dr. Anne Koch is a leading practitioner and educator in dental medicine who unmasks “the stigma faced so long by transgender people” and she does so by looking at “one of the biggest problems in transgender medicine—that there is no continuity of care by many healthcare providers, with an exception of a few large gender centers and institutions.”

“No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir” by Ani DeFranco— From the Beginning

DiFranco, Ani. “No Walls and the Recurring Dream: A Memoir”, Viking Books, 2019.

From the Beginning

Amos Lassen

In her new memoir, No Walls and the Recurring Dream, Ani DiFranco recounts her early life from a place of hard-won wisdom, combining personal expression, the power of music, feminism, political activism, storytelling, philanthropy, entrepreneurship, and much more into an inspiring whole. In these frank, honest, passionate, and often funny pages is the tale of one woman’s eventful and radical journey to the age of thirty. Ani’s coming of age story is defined by her ethos of fierce independence–from being an emancipated minor sleeping in a Buffalo bus station, to unwaveringly building a career through appearances at small clubs and festivals, to releasing her first album at the age of 18, to consciously rejecting the mainstream recording industry and creating her own label, Righteous Babe Records.

In these pages, as in life, she never hesitates to question established rules and expectations, maintaining a level of artistic integrity that has inspired and challenged more than a few. Ani continues to be a major touring and recording artist as well as a celebrated activist and feminist, standing as living proof that you can overcome all personal and societal obstacles to be who you are and to follow your dreams. The film also makes it very clear that Ani’s choices may not be for everyone but “they’re part and parcel of her integrity and creative path.”

 DiFranco sharea her rise to fame with candor. She had to fend for herself and by age 15, she had already survived each unusual day through her ingenuity and perseverance. She is a natural storyteller and includes anecdotes, unusual characters,  wit, perspective and humor. DiFranco seemingly has always defied convention while remaining true to herself. Here is her life as a musician, activist and as a political feminist.  She knew everyone in the folk world including Pete Seeger and Bob Dylan. Her book  celebrates both independent music and her unconventional life.

“Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales” by Oliver Sacks— The Final Volume

Sacks, Oliver. “Everything in Its Place: First Loves and Last Tales”, Knopf, 2019.

The Final Volume

Amos Lassen

It was not until I received “Everything in Its Place” that I really realized that this was the last book from Oliver Sacks. His books  were important to me not only for reviewing purposes but also because I was able to see Sacks, the man behind the words and he became a friend of mine. I did not have to meet him or know him face-to-face— it was his prose that took me into his life and now that is gone forever. There always seemed to be something by Sacks to read but this was the end, a final volume of essays that showcase Sacks’s broad range of interests–from his passion for ferns, swimming, and horsetails, to his final case histories exploring schizophrenia, dementia, and Alzheimer’s.

Oliver Sacks was a scientist and storyteller and he was beloved by readers for his neurological case histories and his fascination and familiarity with human behavior at its most unexpected and unfamiliar. This book celebrates Sacks’s many interests and told with his characteristic compassion and erudition and in his glorious prose.

Sacks writes with his characteristic compassion and attention to detail as he gives us one last peek into his “generous, curious, and brilliant mind.” While cancer may have claimed his body, his voice continues to be strong and this is a fitting end to an exemplary literary and medical career,. It features “the essential humanity and spaciousness of mind that his readers have long come to expect . . . with a voice, breadth of curiosity and kinship with life all his own . . . passionate . . . [and] engrossing.”

Sacks will be missed, “not only for the elegance and potency of his writing, but for his critically important championing of science in an age of science denial . . . Warm, edifying, highly personal essays.”  Up until the end he remained full of curiosity and awe whether he was discussing botany or the intricacies of the brain. He wrote with natural candor and wisdom and he taught us all so much. Sacks was my friend even though I never met him. He was a man who happened to be gay and his self-acceptance was a model for so many. He was a celebrated author and neurologist who had thoughts about everything and he willingly shared them. Sacks has already been gone four years and it took that long before we had the opportunity to read everything he wrote. Sacks has written so much about so many different topics that his voice will continue to speak to us in spirit if not in person.

The essays in this collection span a range of diverse interests. They are divided into three parts – the first part deals with childhood and family, the second deals with neuroscience and the kinds of fascinating case studies which made him famous, and the last contain miscellaneous thoughts about his interests and family.

In the first section he shares his lifelong love of swimming  and childhood experiments, his love of museums of geology and natural history, a marvelous paean to the chemist-poet Humphrey Davy, and a somewhat bittersweet contemplation of libraries in which he has something to say about the replacement of so many great paper books by impoverished online versions.

In the second section he writes about patients with neurological challenges. In doing this he goes beyond simple descriptions of disorders like Alzheimer’s diseases and depression. He describes how Alzheimer’s is increasingly seen as a reorganization of the brain rather than a simple degeneration where patients connect with areas of the brain which have been previously enveloped by layers of complexity. Under the right circumstances, Alzheimer’s patients can be every bit as alert and responsive to specific stimuli as anyone else. There is also  a fascinating chapter on the history of mental asylums which shows just how far we have come in treating the mentally ill with dignity.

The third and last section speaks of many of Sacks’s personal loves and these include gardens, gefilte fish, the periodic table and the discovery of super heavy elements, a trip to Colorado Springs and a mesmerizing interaction through a glass panel with an orangutan. The final chapter which was published in the New Yorker recently is poignant and leaves one feeling sad. “It laments the lack of human connection engendered by our obsession with devices, and Sacks talks about how depressed he feels when he sees everyone who was previously nodding, smiling and talking on the streets of New York lost in their devices and screens, seduced by pieces of fleeting information.” Sacks questions the coming of technology that seems to sap us of our human and emotional juices. He also sees science as a saving grace for us, and a final note of hope that humanity will continue to endure: “As I face my own impending departure from the world, I have to believe this – that mankind and our planet will survive, that life will continue, and that this will not be out final hour.” Even as he bids us goodbye in this final essay collection, Sacks’s  writings live and will continue “to inform, stimulate and inspire as long as men and women read, listen to music, care for loved ones and revel in the excitement of science.” I guess I will continue to reread them until I join Sacks at that great library somewhere else.

“Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level” by Leander Kahney— The Leader

Kahney, Leander. “Tim Cook: The Genius Who Took Apple to the Next Level”, Portfolio, 2019.

The Leader

Amos Lassen

The death of Steve Jobs left a tremendous void at Apple, one of the most innovative companies of all time. Jobs wasn’t merely Apple’s iconic founder and CEO; he was Apple, the living embodiment of his brand. It was hard to imagine if anyone could fill his shoes; especially not Tim Cook, the intensely private executive who many thought of as Apple’s “operations drone.”

Now seven years later, things at Apple are at a high and couldn’t be better. Its stock has nearly tripled, making it the world’s first trillion dollar company. Under Cook’s leadership, Apple is pushing hard into renewable energy, labor and environmentally-friendly supply chains, user privacy, and highly-recyclable products. From the massive growth of the iPhone to lesser-known victories like the Apple Watch, Cook is leading Apple to a new era of success. And Cook has done so as he remains a private man.

Through access with several Apple insiders, we learn about the private Cook and hear the inspiring story of how one man attempted to replace someone irreplaceable and how through strong, humane leadership, understanding of the supply chain, and a commitment to his values–succeeded more than anyone had ever thought possible.

Here is the kind of book and kind of life story that is easy to become lost it. It is a finely researched illuminating portrait of a mover and shaker of our time. This is “an adulating biography of Apple’s left-brained wunderkind, whose work continues to revolutionize modern technology.”

“Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer” by John Glynn— Intimacy, Frustration and Hope

Glynn, John. “Out East: Memoir of a Montauk Summer”, Grand Central Publishing, 2019.

Intimacy, Frustration and Hope

Amos Lassen

In “Out East”, John Glynn gives us a look at  life in a Montauk summer house that is also a  memoir of first love, identity and self-discovery among a group of friends who became family.
Montauk is often called the end of the world because it sits on a small piece of land jutting into the Atlantic. There is a ramshackle split-level house there that is set on a hill and each summer thirty-one people would come there to sleep between its thin walls and shag carpets. Because the roof is octagonal in shaped, it resembles a bee’s nest and thus became named The Hive.

It was in 2013 that John Glynn joined the share house. for his first Memorial Day Weekend there. He was 27 and lonely, so lonely, in fact, that it was crippling. He prayed for clarity especially since he had felt lonely for as long as he could remember. He didn’t understand why he was lonely but he knew he was.

We join him for that summer of 2013 as he shares his memories of the Hive and the people who lived in it, and his own coming-to-terms with his half-formed sense of self. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, “The Hive was a center of gravity, a port of call, a home.” There were friendships, conflicts, secrets and epiphanies that came and left (or stayed) among the  group that came to define how they would live out the rest of their twenties and beyond. This is a story of love and transformation, longing and escape  set in our time and I believe all of us will see something of ourselves here.

The group of 20-something housemates grow to know, to love, and care for one another. They work hard during the week, party hard on weekends, and each faces love and heartbreak. As we read, we become part of the dynamics of a group of people in a house share. We also share the life of the narrator as he faces emotional honesty. We read and in a sense, experience the bars, the clothes, the music, the breakups, the joys and the fears of being young in New York, searching for oneself all week and searching for someone else on the weekends. It is set in Montauk but it could have been set anywhere.

We enter the world of the  ritual of summertime house shares by young people from the city in the beach communities of Long Island. It is through this that the author experiences his sexual awakening. Glynn writes beautiful perceptive prose that is filled with soul and love (if I had met him, he never would have been lonely). Glynn knew he was lonely but did not know why who was very lucky to have his family of friends around him as he explored his emotions.

When Glynn was in his mid-twenties, he worked as an editorial assistant in New York for two great bosses, had roommates and friends and a supportive family. After a freak car accident that could have killed him, and the death of  his beloved grandmother, he suffered feelings of guilt and unworthiness, especially in social settings. When he was given a chance to rent time in a “share house” in Montauk for the upcoming summer with several friends and many more potential ones, he agreed to do so. There rules to being in a share house  and the first is not to say you are part of one unless you wish to be invited to leave. By email, he received a long list of terms and stipulations most of which are broken during that summer.

Many of the people John meets are struggling with various issues, especially self-image, despite being blessed with good looks, wealth, great jobs and education. John himself  begins to have unexpected feelings for one of the men who is also staying at the house. Though his family and friends are liberals and his friend’s interest looks promisingly reciprocal, John deals with the anxiety about being accepted as gay and is reluctant to upset the expectations of those who know him. He struggles with coming out  and is reminded of  the memories of his youth as part of a large close-knit clan (who also vacationed at the beach together every summer) and seeks advice and solace from his fellow share-housemates. With this we see that good friends can’t make your decisions for you but their support can be powerful just as this book can be to those struggling with the same issues.

“The Light Years: A Memoir” by Chris Rush— Coming of Age

Rush, Chris. “The Light Years: A Memoir”, Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2019.

Coming-of-Age

Amos Lassen

Chris Rush was born into a prosperous, fiercely Roman Catholic, New Jersey family. However, the family lived behind a shaky facade which falls down during the late 1960s, Chris’  was destined to fracture their precarious facade. older sister Donna introduces him to the charismatic Valentine, who places a tab of acid on twelve-year-old Rush’s tongue, proclaiming: “This is sacrament. You are one of us now.”

After being forced out of an experimental art school, Rush heads to Tucson to make a major drug purchase and, barely a teenager, he disappears into the nascent American counterculture. He looks to the communes of the west to be his next home and he spends his teen years looking for knowledge, for the divine, for home.

In “The Light Years”, we feel Rush’s  prayer for vanished friends and we become part of his odyssey filled with broken and extraordinary people. We feel “the slow slide from the optimism of the 1960s into the darker and more sinister 1970s.” This book is a journey of discovery and reconciliation, as Rush faces his lost childhood and himself.

 Rush shares his colorful childhood and adolescence as he travels across the country and back again, searching for truth, love, UFOs in New Mexico, peace, something that feels like God, and a home. Rush has a great story and he is also a great storyteller, together we get magic. Even with all of the brutality that he suffered in his life, he writes with grace. I feel sure that he was holding back tears as he wrote just as I was holding back tears as I read.

We can’t help but wonder how Rush survived but I also wonder about his parents who allowed him to leave. What about his resilience in becoming the respected, honored artist he has evolved into. He was the middle child of seven of a successful contractor and his complicated wife whose fiercely Catholic lives include raucous parties attended by members of the diocese of Trenton. The father’s work mostly involved construction of churches, but it is his alcoholism that drives the family. Each of the seven goes in a wayward direction, seemingly without any reaction from the parents.
Chris’s story shows deep involvement into the drug culture of the seventies, his being cast adrift while still in his teens and while he is coming to grips with his own sexuality. This tells more about his character than that of those parents who should never have had a child. I found it strange that Chris professes love for his parents and more understanding and acceptance than they are possibly entitled to.

I read this book turning pages as quickly as I could yet not wanting it to end. I loved reading about the family that I loved to hate. In Chris’ deeply Catholic family the booze flew as easy as the money. His mother ignored her children to shop and fill already bursting closets. Though she was aloof and often cruel with her words and was absent for most of his early life.

His father constantly worked and was a detestable especially when he drinks. Once he threatened Chris with a gun and knife. Chris was unaware of his father’s history until later. Chris bounced around different boarding schools, dealing drugs and eventually getting kicked out because he was caught kissing a boy in the woods. He tried to go home many times, but his parent’s house was one of anger, resentment and hostility.
The twists and turns of Chris’ life kept me reading but then, just when I wanted to know a bit more, the story ended. Now that I think about it, I must admit that this was a clever way to end and while I won’t say why, I bet many of you will agree. I believe that it is his ability to hope, dream, love even though he was damaged and scarred kept him from ever being totally lost.

“Mama’s Boy: A Story from our America” by Dustin Lance Black — Heartfelt and Personal

Black, Dustin Lance. “Mama’s Boy: A Story from our Americas”, Knopf, 2019.

Heartfelt and Personal

Amos Lassen

Dustin Lance Black’s heartfelt and deeply personal memoir explores how a celebrated filmmaker and activist and his conservative Mormon mother found ways to bridge divides—and how stories can indeed heal.

Dustin Lance Black won an Oscar  for his screenplay for “Milk” and helped overturn California’s anti–gay marriage Proposition 8. However, Black has unlikely origin to ne an LGBTQ activist. He comes from a conservative Mormon household outside San Antonio, Texas. His mother, Anne, was raised in rural Louisiana and contracted polio when she was two years old. She went through awful surgeries, as well as braces and crutches for life, and was told that she would never have children or a family. She defied expectations andfound salvation in the Church of the Latter Day Saints, raised three rough-and-rowdy boys, and escaped the abuse and violence of two questionably devised Mormon marriages before finding love and an improbable career in the U.S. civil service.

By the time Lance came out to his mother at age twenty-one, he was a blue-state young man studying the arts instead of going on his Mormon mission. She said his sexuality was a sinful choice and was terrified for his future. It may seem like theirs was a house destined to be divided, and at times it was. This story shines light on what it took to remain a family despite such division—a journey that stretched from the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to the sheds of East Texas. In the end, however, the rifts that have split a nation couldn’t end this relationship that defined and inspired their remarkable lives. 

This is a story of the noble quest for a plane higher than politics an it is a story of family, foundations, turmoil, tragedy, elation, and love. It is a story that we all need right now. It is a beautifully written and compelling account of growing up poor and gay with a three times married, physically disabled, deeply religious Mormon mother, and the imprint that this woman made on the character of Dustin Lance Black. Their extraordinary bond makes us feel good and even gives us a bit of hope in these terrible Trump times. Maybe the future of the republic is not all bleak. This is Black’s tribute to his mother who is conservative and deeply religious.
Black shares an  account of how a mother and son evolved beyond their potentially divisive religious and political beliefs to find a source of strength and unity through their bond.

Black grew up in the South and was surrounded by stories and as a result, he fell in love with the magic of storytelling and has himself become a wonderful storyteller himself and demonstrates that in this beautifully written, entertaining, memoir. The most powerful stories are the most personal, and the most important figure in his story is his mother, who refused letting the fact that she could not use her legs stop her. From her, Black  inherited his own strong will and optimism.

We are so divided in this country now and this book gives a ray of light into what we hope will be a better future.  We root for Black’s mother and you will laugh and cry as you read.

 

“Lie With Me” by Philippe Besson— An Affair Between Two Boys

 

Besson, Philippe. “Lie With Me”, (translated by Molly Ringwald), Scribner’s, 2019.

An Affair Between Two Boys

Amos Lassen

Philippe Besson’s bestselling French novel has been called the French “Brokeback Mountain” and is about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France. It has beautifully and lyrically translated by actress/writer Molly Ringwald. 

Right outside of a hotel in Bordeaux Philippe comes upon
a young man who strongly resembles his first love. It was a relationship that he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a handsome boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls or when not together, they manage to meet in secret as they make passionate love and are part of an affair that is world-altering. This is a highly erotic coming-of-age story that is tender, moving and very emotional.

Set in 1984 Bordeaux, the teens fall in love in the shadows, “leaving one of them to reflect on the relationship many years later.” As they found each other, they also found that life can destroy as well as be lived. Reading this is like dreaming as balance and despair knock up against each other. Philippe Besson not only gives us the boys’ story but also their world as they deal with longing, love, and letting go.” I am stunned by the beauty of the prose especially since it is in translation and I sensed from the very beginning that this is not a book that leaves you after you close the covers.

As we read, we cannot help but realize the damage that hatred can do. While there was no hate crime or bullying both of the young men here were victims of a persistent kind of intolerance that relegated them and their love to a clandestine relationship. They should’ve been allowed the freedom to love and be loved without the need for courage or bravery to do so. This is story of how bigotry affected that freedom and fear of reprisal stole their innocence.

The story comes to us in three parts, making it difficult to avoid the inclusion of later events and making the specifics of dialogue a bit hazy and giving the reader a non-linear retelling but one that is emotive nonetheless. The first part takes place in 1984 when they are seniors in high school and this is most of the story. The second part takes place in 2007 when during an interview Philippe sees a boy outside a hotel that’s the spitting image of Thomas, a boy who turns out to be his son. The events of 2016 conclude the story.

Philippe is inquisitive, precocious and stunned when Thomas approaches him the first time. Thomas is popular but quiet and seems to be resigned to a life he knows won’t ever bring him happiness. At 17 he’s already used secrecy and deception as his norm and at 18 those  very same habits will forever taint them both. During their time together they are able to steal a few moments of bliss and writer Philippe Besson captures the intensity of his feelings for Thomas as well as the optimism and folly of youth. I truly felt not only his physical desire for him but his steadfast belief that they would find a way to carve out a future together, despite evidence to the contrary. We see that prejudice robbed these two boys of a life together, a life they deserved and left in its place a life lived inauthentically for one and the other who struggles to give his heart to another after having it broken by his first love. The story is timeless as is the pain that accompanies it.

Besson wonderfully captures all of the fear and freedom of young desire. His prose gets right to the heart of what it means to have to fall in love in secret. Prepare yourself for tears and a wonderful reading experience.

“Naturally Tan” by Tan France— Fashion and Compassion

France, Tan. “Naturally Tan: A Memoir”, St. Martin’s, 2019.

Fashion and Compassion

Amos Lassen

Sometimes I am in the mood to read a really sensitive memoir and Tan France’s came at just the right time. I am sure that many of you have noticed that gay men always want to hear the coming out story from each other. It has almost become part of a ritual of being gay and trusting each other and is usually part of the first conversation that two men share. In this memoir, France “tells his origin story for the first time” and he does so with wit, style, grace and compassion. He shares what it was like to grow up gay in a traditional South Asian family as one of the few people of color in South Yorkshire, England. He tells of coming of age, finding himself and his voice  and marrying a Mormon cowboy from Salt Lake City who is the love of his life.

I suppose that we think of France as the man who can direct our style and fashion and he loves to do that but we also see that he is so much more. We read his candid observations of the United States and Great Britain looking at the cultural differences, meeting with celebrities and the behind-the-scenes realities of “Queer Eye”, He shares his unique perspective on the happiness that one finds in being oneself (that sounds so stilted). France tells us that he wrote this book “to spread joy, personal acceptance, and most of all, understanding. Each of us is living our own private journey, and the more we know about one another, the healthier and happier the world will be.”

I love the anecdotes and candid opinions  that he shares with us and his wit and humor are right on. He also shares style tips and behind-the-scene stories. He wants “to make America fabulous again one makeover at a time” and this means more than just new clothing. We must learn to look at “real-life issues, changes and acceptance on all sides.” I do not know what I was expecting to read here and I learned that Tan France is a paragon of style and class.

I love not only seeing a gay South Asian person on such a mainstream popular show but also seeing how he became loved by his viewers. Because he seems to be
Tan has always come across as the more reserved one among the Fab 5, so I was looking forward to reading more about him and I was pleasantly surprised  with his writing and his charm. He even tells us about his own personal flaws and how he has learned to own them.  There are painful and heartbreaking experiences he has had that he is open about especially the racism that he had to deal with f being one of the few people of color in a small town in England, and how just walking home from school was a lesson in survival.  His observations about brown people hurt to think that skin color is still such an issue. I learned another important lesson (well I didn’t really learn it because I already knew about it but we do not often see it in print)  and that is that success and  being financially fit doesn’t mean that everything is good in a person’s  life. We also see the downside of celebrity life  with constant travel, i press junkets, being away from his partner and feeling lonely and we see that there is a toll for everything we do.

France seems at ease with being a Muslim South Asian and is also still very traditional in his mindset and we see that in his relationship with his husband. Many of us will recognize the conservative nature of the family while growing up and the nervy, nosy family members, the ways we are restricted by our families.  France wants to incorporate his culture within his style and that is admirable.
Here is Tan’s journey to the show and what his life has been like after fame. We also have great illustrations to go along with making a new friend.

“Yves Saint Laurent: A Biography” by Laurence Benaim— A Creative Genius

Benaim, Laurence. “Yves Saint Laurent: A Biography”, Rizzoli,  2019

A Creative Genius

Amos Lassen

Laurence Benaim brings us the definitive portrait of Yves Saint Laurent, the creative genius who transformed fashion is the first major English-language biography of Yves Saint Laurent since his death in 2008 and it features exclusive interviews of those who knew him best, by one of the most respected names in French fashion.
Saint Laurent’s impact on fashion is legendary, yet he remains an enigmatic and compelling figure.

Benaim traces the development of Saint Laurent’s visionary work through his charmed and tumultuous life. Benaim is himself a respected fashion writer. This biography has just been translated and updates since the original appeared. It looks at how this unassuming prodigy became a legendary, celebrated public icon who changed the face of fashion, style, and celebrity.

We hear from Saint Laurent’s partner Pierre Bergé to family members, his atelier staff, and muses such as Catherine Deneueve, LouLou de la Falaise, and Paloma Picasso. We read of Saint Laurent’s talent in Oran and his star trajectory, from leading the House of Dior at the age of twenty-one to his fall from grace and subsequent forging with Pierre Bergé, fashion’s most enduring and successful professional partnership. Saint Laurent partied with Warhol in New York and relaxed with the jet set in his Marrakesh hideaway. Benaïm shows us both the glittering world of haute couture and the business empire that revolutionized the fashion industry. Filled with wonderful details and gorgeous prose this is the book about Saint Laurent to read.