Monthly Archives: April 2020

“MARCO”— A Queer Syrian Refugee

“MARCO”

A Queer Syrian Refugee

Amos Lassen

Saleem Haddad’s short film, “Marco” is a wonderful addition to the gay film canon and you can enjoy it for free on YouTube or below. It is the story of anundocumented Syrian LGBTQ refugee who comes to London and becomes a sex worker in order to make enough money so that he can buy food. This is a heartbreaking story about a gay man from a mother country where homosexuality is forbidden and even punishable by death. Ahmed (Marwan Kaabour) arrives in London after escaping Syria via Turkey and a stay in a stay in a refugee camp in Calais. From there he hid in a shipping container as a stowaway. When he arrived in London, he was arrested and just recently was released from the Detention Center. He only had  £30, and an appointment with the  Home Office to plead his case.

He began to advertise online and used the name Marco. He made up a new biography claiming to be from Barcelona knowing that as a gay Syrian refugee his number of clients would be limited only limit his number of clients and perhaps put him in harm’s way.

Marco met a client named Omar (Zed Josef) who was a successful businessman from Lebanon but living in London for the past decade.  Marco leads a lonely life working most of the time, He ignores  his mother’s phone calls from Syria. However, his accent is recognized by Omar and he feels that he tell him the truth. The two men become close friends because of their common backgrounds. Omar was able to come to London legally but he is sympathetic with Marco’s being gay and Arab is a foreign culture.

I was a bit reminded of myself when I immigrated to Israel as a gay man and this was well before the laws changed. Not only was being gay considered subversive but I had to learn a new language and forget about all that we had in America that had not yet come to Israel. Gay men could be arrested and jailed and it was a very difficult life. ”Marco” reminded me of the inequities involved with being LGBTQ and in his case stateless and homeless. I at least had Israel as my state.  Many of the Arab countries still take away the basic right of people to control their own lives and live free and without hate and prejudice..  

“Marco” is the  story of two men who came together for an evening of sex but then faced the realities of how their lives had changed and it is important to remember that there are many others like them.

“DADDY ISSUES”— Romance, Betrayal and an Unlikely Love Triangle

“DADDY ISSUES”

Romance, Betrayal and an Unlikely Love Triangle

Amos Lassen

Amara Cash’s “Daddy Issues” is a queer dramedy with a subversive perspective on alternative lifestyles. Maya (Madison Lawlor) is a cute 20-something aspiring digital artist who loves platinum pink wigs and multicolored eye shadow. She lives at home in Orange County with her clueless, condescending and divorced mother (Kamala Jones), who espouses snide putdowns referencing Maya’s artwork, sexual orientation and lifestyle.

Maya dreams of escaping to art school but that never happens. She spends her time Text messaging with her friends and following other creative people on Instagram where she gets a bit of validation, especially from the exploits of super-popular Los Angeles social media diva and fashion designer Jasmine (Montana Manning).

Maya decides to go to Los Angeles and crash one of Jasmine’s famously decadent parties. Without any clear plan in mind, she manages to ingratiate herself with her Jasmine even though designer cannabis and the best booze might influence Jasmine’s judgment as much as Maya’s coy charm. A spontaneous night spent together succeeds in igniting a romantic flame and Maya is elated.  However, Jasmine has her own agenda, which puts first her kinky age-play relationship with sugar daddy Simon (Andrew Pifko), a single, medicating surgeon who pays the rent on Jasmine’s apartment and also gives her generous allowance. She is not about to sacrifice that for Maya and we see that her daddy issues may eventually trip them both up.

The plot is a bit ridiculous in giving the viewer a very strange love triangle. It is a bit too much to imagine especially when it turns out that Jasmine’s doctor lover is Maya’s absent father.  Director Cash seems to be primarily concerned with whether conflicting views of sexuality can be reconciled in a committed relationship and she tries to pass off the issues by cuteness and brightly-colored cinematography and a pop soundtrack.Cash takes on a lot of issues and doesn’t succeed in managing all of them, but that’s not so bad because central to the film is Maya’s inexperience with just about everything and her confusion is brought about by events including an unexpected reunion with her father  and by a sense that how she has understood the world is changing. Maya’s personal journey is a reflection of a much larger, society of which she has almost no awareness.

As Simon tries to deal his discomfort, he begins to use heroin, something that bothers his own father and leads the viewer to wonder what kind of daddy issues may have contributed to Simon’s own unhappiness. Maya’s take on life is quite old fashioned, and she is not ready for the idea that sex and love might not be the same thing. She is self-centered but basically sweet-natured and easy to relate to. We feel that her process of growth, will take her ahead of people who don’t have the same excuses as she does. While the film is unbalanced it has a lot to say and its own of personality dealing with  takes a femininity neglected by the mainstream.

“PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE” (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)— A Romance Doomed to Brevity

“PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE” (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu)

A Romance Doomed to Brevity

Amos Lassen

Céline Sciamma’s “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” is a discourse on gazes that portrays a romance doomed to brevity. It asks how to memorialize an image and how to keep it alive. We see that committing to every moment is the only way to remember them.

Set in 1760, Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is a young painter who’s hired to spend a week on an estate on an island off the French coast of Brittany in order to paint a portrait of Héloïse (Adéle Haenel) who is to marry a wealthy man in Milan. Marianne comes to the house soaking wet after rescuing her blank canvases from the sea. She’s taken to an unused reception room full of covered furnishings.  Héloïse’s mother (Valeria Golino), an Italian countess who is hidden from view tells her that she’s been brought into the home under false pretenses.

A gust of wind blows the hood off of Heloise’s coat and she  gazes at Marianne. Héloïse refuses to sit for her portrait  forcing Marianne to paint her from memory. We learn that Héloïse is just days away from having been removed from a convent after the death of her older sister. Marianne is to befriend her, protect her from her grief and destructive impulses, and simultaneously study her in order to complete the portrait that will cement Héloïse’s marriage if it pleases her intended.

Héloïse and Marianne’s gazes frequently intersect in the film. They are basically filmed from the shoulders up, centered in the frame. Their glances toward one another are also looks straight into the camera. Héloïse is seen as shy yet her looks are furtive but indelible. It’s clear that Marianne is drawn to her and director Sciamma increases the drama of their courtship by showing Héloïse as a flight risk, always ready to throw hurl herself into the sea or off of the cliffs of the  coast.

A relationship begins between the two  women, who find their ways through the class and gender constraints of society in the latter half of the 18th century. Marianne is a cosmopolitan student of art and bound by rules that male masters have established. Héloïse leads a tightly controlled life—she loves music but has never heard an orchestra. She is committed to a life of celibacy and solitude but without her choice is  to have a life of a partnership with a stranger. The two women share is passion and curiosity, and they explore and interrogate one another’s  ideas and preconceptions.

Marianne’s expressions have a rare immediacy, as she seems to clearly take in  sights and thoughts while Heloise never make her intentions or impressions known until she’s ready to. The two are uninterested in control or power, both search for a sense of truth.

Marianne’s gaze leads to a look that goes deeper than the surface to find what’s real. This is a sensitive and intelligent film that brilliantly tells how limiting it is for women in a patriarchal society and how there are deeper emotions even if making beauty an object of both love and art. The film is seen through the eyes of a female artist and we see a sexual obsession tale told from a woman’s artistic point of view.  Thepower of love to pulls us in and take us forward as the action focuses on the chemistry between Heloise and Marianne from the time they first see each other to their long and languorous romantic liaisons.

“CRISIS HOTLINE”— Being Human


“CRISIS HOTLINE”

Being Human

Amos Lassen

“Crisis Hotline” is a thriller and so much more. Simon (Corey Jackson) faces heretofore unknown anxiety as he tries to deal with his first phone call. The film is totally set during the night shift and we are taken back to other times through flashbacks and all we need to know, we learn from telephone conversations about Danny, “a high-achieving but low-paid programmer whose disappointment with his new life in the California is dispelled” after having been involved in a relationship with his new boyfriend, Kyle. All seemed good and filled with passion until the  relationship takes a dark turn after  Danny is introduced to Kyle’s friends.

As Danny’s account moves forward, we go back to Simon as he tries to convince a caller to be calm and this is happening, the film begins dealing with deceit and exploitation. We soon feel the suspense of the happenings and this is aided by the atmosphere created by director Mark Schwab.  Together with that suspense are many important ideas for us to wade through.

We watch the progression of the relationship between Danny and Kyle persuasively and we feel both their happiness and their agony.  This is a film that touches our senses through its use of nuance and the betrayal in the relationship is very palpable, so much so that I found myself to be angry when the characters are feeling angry and I felt tears running from my eyes seeing their behavior toward each other. This is an upsetting film yet it is also a depiction of humanity that shows our inability to control behavior or outcomes. We are actually only able to control ourselves and who we are and how we react to emotional and physical situations. Even though love is glorious and beautiful, horrors are present, only to be discovered as love progresses (or doesn’t). We see everything through the eyes of Simon as we move between his life and the past of the caller and with suicidal intentions and how they came to be.  The film shows how director Schwab views  happiness and productivity by bringing forward uncertainty and imagination.

Simon sees the calls that he gets as the products of delusions and therefore non-important. He feels that there calls  just reflect discrimination and or not important.  He understands that this discrimination does not require immediate help and not what he was expecting when coming to work at the hotline. He had hoped that he would be able to help people who were seriously facing death and he becomes frustrated until the call from Danny (Christian Gabriel). 

That call causes him to listen closely and use the best methods to help Danny, who shares how he got to where he is  and thus give a perspective (which is either real or not). Aware that he cannot handle this alone, Simon asks for help from Curtis (Mike Mizwicki), a co-worker and who really tries to be fair about Danny’s situation. However, we see that this is not going to be an easy effort.

 Danny speaks of his relationship with Kyle (Pano Tsaklas) who convinced Danny that can love. At first, Simon feels that Danny is acting out of impetuousness and that he is not serious about ending his life because of a love affair gone bad. Simon constantly tries to tell Danny that he is lacking context but soon realizes that Danny’s truthfulness is not forthcoming.  Danny explains that at the start of the relationship everything seemed real but things stated to get bad when Danny met Lance (August Browning) and Christian (Christopher Fung), two of Kyle’s friends who came across as insincere and caused Danny and Kyle’s relationship to hut the skids.  But that was not all—Kyle had a secret of his own and that was the last straw.

Schwab shows us the relationship from the beautiful beginning to the secret that becomes the reason to re-evaluate what they had to the betrayal that slowly comes to us. Now we see that the relationship is headed for an end with Danny ready to take his own life. He uses the hotline as a way to tell the truth about it and so that he would not die alone. He wants to have someone hear why he has reached this point.  As Danny and Simon speak, the topic of suicide turns into talk about murder and we move into Danny’s past and the mess that was caused by Lance and Christian who do drugs and engage in wild sexual escapades. Kyle tempts Danny into licentiousness and Danny becomes only a token of who he once was.  We learn that Lance and Christian have a pornography network and while Danny tries to balance his feelings for Kyle and his sneaky maneuvers helping Lance and Christian.  Danny is in love with Kyle while Kyle must deal with his feelings for a better lifestyle that can come from his two friends. Even though Danny and Kyle love each other, reality says something else. This was Danny’s first love and it blinds him for a while. Those of us who have been in relationships realize that they are based on trust and compromise. Both men taken in by the promise of the beauty of love— they loved each other’s company and really cared for each other but Kyle chose another path which included dishonesty.

When we first meet Simon, we see him as upset and demoralized by this job at the hotline. He was not getting what he needed from his work— he really want those who were deep in need to call in and that is what he got with Danny. Simon works hard to pursued him that his own death and/or the death of others will not close any doors or solve any problems. Is there a solution to a situation like this? As “Crisis Hotline” comes to a close, there are still many unanswered questions (and no spoiler here).

The acting is terrific all around and the film does what any good film should do— it makes us think both while we are watching and when it is over. In this film, everything works.

“ABOUT A TEACHER”— A Personal Journey

“ABOUT A TEACHER”

A Personal Journey

Amos Lassen

Hanan Harchol’s “About a Teacher” is an intimate and inspiring drama that takes us on the personal journey of a new inner-city public high school film teacher who comes into teaching  oblivious to the actual demands of the inner-city, and unaware of his own shortcomings and biases.

Yet during his first month of teaching, he recognizes that knowing his subject matter is one of the smaller components of the job. He is so overwhelmed that he plans to quit at the end of the first school year. But as he begins to get to know his students,  he finds himself investing in their stories and futures, he discovers that he must set aside preconceived notions of who his students are and what they “need,” and instead respond to the unique individuals in front of him. 

Having been a teacher in an urban inner-city school, I related immediately to his film but I also was a bit upset to see that in the fifty years since my own experiences and today, not much has changed. The film is inspired by ​the filmmaker’s real-life experiences as an inner-city film teacher, and  it features many of his former students in the cast and crew. The film gives us a realistic portrait of the teaching profession that  sheds light on the challenges and pitfalls that lead nearly half of teachers to leave the profession within the first five years. Inner-city public schools having nearly twice the attrition of more affluent schools), while they simultaneously celebrate the deep rewards that this meaningful and noble profession can provide.

While examining familiar territory (challenging social issues, the fact that both teachers and students regularly drop out of the system), “the film’s story elevates through his personal struggles as a teacher, the teens’ struggles simply to navigate life, and how the symbiosis between mentor and student can have lasting, positive impact.”

“Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth” by Benjamin Taylor— A Portrait of  a Friendship and  Philip Roth

Taylor, Benjamin. “Here We Are: My Friendship with Philip Roth”, Penguin Books, 2020.

A Portrait of  a Friendship and  Philip Roth

Amos Lassen

In “Here We Are, writer Benjamin Taylor shares about his long, intimate friendship with novelist Philip Roth (1933-2018). Roth was already considered as one of America’s most esteemed living novelists when Taylor, a founding faculty member of the New School’s Graduate School of Writing, met him in the mid-1990s. Roth’s past had already been through two miserable marriages, many past lovers, and debilitating health concerns. Roth was “irascible and mercurial” but he was also very real and very candid.

Taylor captures the essence of Roth’s charmingly enigmatic humor and complex behavior perfectly. He shares his memories of their friendship, writing about their quiet, often amusing moments together. Unfortunately, Taylor tells us that “A lot of conversation got squirreled away.” Taylor quotes Roth throughout and he was there for Roth throughout his declining years. This book is his poignant reflection on his experience with Roth and what their friendship has meant to them both. What is really fascinating is Taylor’s statement, “I can’t be the first gay man to have been an older straight man’s mainstay.” He goes on to say that Roth was searching for a “beautiful young woman to see to him as Jane Eyre looked after old Mr. Rochester.” Instead he got Taylor and they became very strongly attached to each other. They loved each other but they were not lovers.  Taylor describes their relationship as was “a conversation neither could have done without.”

As we have come to expect from Benjamin Taylor, this is a beautifully written book that is both a portrait of Roth and a meditation on friendship and loss. Philip Roth’s place in the canon is secure, but what is less clear is what the man himself was like. Through Benjamin Taylor’s memoir, we see Roth as a mortal man, experiencing the joys and sorrows of aging, reflecting on his own writing, and doing something we all love to do: passing the time in the company of his closest friend.  Taylor presents us with a glorious ode to friendship and shows how it can brighten everything we do.

Roth encouraged Taylor to write this book and gave him “explicit instructions not to sugarcoat anything and not to publish it until after his death.” Taylor’s memoir will be the definitive account of Philip Roth. It is almost as if Taylor has resurrected Roth ad I was shocked as my opinion of Roth that I had was very, very different from the Roth presented here. Yes, Roth was rancorous and tender, funny and sweet.

Like that friendship, this account is loyal and kind and very funny.  The laughter turns into tears as we near the end.  Taylor revives Roth’s presence while at the same time gives us a study of two very different men coming together because of a shared set of obsessions and mutual comforts. 

“Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health” edited by Adrian Shanker— A Guidebook

 

Shanker, Adrian, editor. “Bodies and Barriers: Queer Activists on Health”, PM Press, 2020.

A Guidebook

Amos Lassen

We are living at a time in history that we depend almost totally upon doctors and health-care workers. However, members of the LGBT community have to deal with health disparities that affect every part of our bodies and lives. We struggle to understand the mutually reinforcing health care challenges that lead us to have worsened health outcomes. In “Bodies and Barriers”health care professionals, students in health professions, policymakers, and fellow activists about these challenges, are provided with insights and a road map for action that can very well improve queer health.

This is a collection of essays by 26 well-known and  emerging queer activists (See table of contents below).We become aware of the health challenges that LGBT people experience throughout their lives and the book challenges conventional wisdom about health care. It goes deeply into the roots of the health disparities and worsened health outcomes that are unique to the LGBT community.  Activists who have crucial information see how to fight for health equity through clinical, behavioral, and policy changes.  As we have seen throughout this corona virus pandemic, there have been many lessons that were learned during the AIDS epidemic. Now that we have finally received a place in the equality movement yet we see that our health as a community still falls behind. This book provides a plan for doing so.

Editor Adrian Shanker  chose essays that touches on an aspect of the diverse experiences across the LGBT community. In learning about particular and shared experiences of navigating the health care system, we gin the voice to strengthen our position.  Personal testimonies by activists on what can be done to improve health care access for all people are inspiring reads. They key thought that we take away is that “There is nothing biological about LGBT people to prevent health equity. Our health challenges are grounded in a history of bias, discrimination, stigma, and structural barriers all of which. are fixable problems but if we want these fixed, we have to work to see that done.

The book is important for members of the LGBT community and for those in the medical profession who work with it.

Cultural competency is critical. Personal narratives, bring up topics like birth control/anal health/terminology, and we have pleas for welcoming and affirming providers were great in these essays. This is a great guide for providers looking to treat patients with the care they need and deserve on a personal level.

This  is a must for healthcare professionals, policy makers, and anyone interested in learning more about culturally competent care for the LGBTQ community.

Contents

Foreword xi

Rachel L. Levine, MD

Introduction 1

Adrian Shanker

Acknowledgments 7

Youth

  • 1  Human Rights and Health for LGBT Youth 11

Ryan Oreson

  • 2  Informed Consent for Intersex Children 23

Katharine B. Dalke

  • 3  Navigating Pediatric Care for Transgender Youth 29

Alisa Bowman

  • 4  Not Your Average Sex Talk 33

Emmett Patterson

  • 5  Resiliency for Homeless Queer Youth 43

Arin Jayes

  • 6  Beyond Duct Tape: Binding for Transmasculine Youth 49

Preston Heldibridle

  • 7  Surviving Suicide 55

Tyler Titus

Young Adults

  • 8  Sex and Safety in the Digital Age 63

Jack Harrison-Quintana

  • 9  Living Proudly, Living Longer: Advocating for Queer Spaces
    to be Tobacco Free 73

Adrian Shanker and Annemarie Shankweiler

  1. 10  Queer Family Planning: A Remedy to Depression 79

Kate Luxion

  1. 11  Social Service Navigation for the LGBT Community 87

Anthony Crisci

  1. 12   at Ass o! Anal Health for the LGBT Community 95

Adrian Shanker

  1. 13  Addiction and Recovery in the Queer Community 103

Atticus Ranck

Middle-Age Adults

  1. 14  Without Wincing or Clenching: Bisexual People’s
    Experiences with Health Care Professionals 113 Robyn Ochs
  2. 15  Gender, Cancer, and Me 123

Liz Margolies

  1. 16  “Laura Is a Transgender. Didn’t the Surgeons Do an Amazing Job?” 133 Laura A. Jacobs
  2. 17  Tobacco-Free Queers: Prime Time to Quit 141

Scout

  1. 18  Challenging HIV Stigma 151

Sean Strub

Older Adults

  1. 19  Archiving AIDS: Intergenerational Education About an
    Epidemic 159 Chris Bartlett
  2. 20  Organizing against Social Isolation: Older Lesbians in Rural Communities 165 Kat Carrick and Ntlotleng Mabena
  3. 21  Caregiving Concerns for LGBT Older Adults 175

Liz Bradbury

  1. 22  Housing and Health for LGBT Older Adults 187

Imani Woody

  1. 23  Grieving Together: LGBT Bereavement Support Groups 193

Justin Sabia-Tanis

Conclusion 203

Adrian Shanker

Afterword 205

Kate Kendell

about the editor 207

“STUDIO ONE FOREVER”— History and Disco

“STUDIO ONE FOREVER”

History and Disco

Amos Lassen

“Studio One Forever” is a documentary about West Hollywood’s historical Studio One Disco and its sister music venue The Backlot, from 1974-1993 during which we had the rise of the disco craze and the gay civil rights movement and the tragedy of the AIDS crisis that rocked the community. It is directed and produced by Marc Saltarelli. “Ironically, the film sequence dealing with the AIDS crisis in West Hollywood has echoes of today’s pandemic,” he posted on his Youtube channel. “In 1983, Studio One became ground zero for AIDS fundraisers. Joan Rivers hosted the first event that was met with threats of violence. There are other sequences that show the similarities and huge differences between then and now. Much of the life-saving hope for the world today is a result of the research done to battle HIV/AIDS.”

For many gay men who came of age during the era of Scott Forbes’ Studio One, the importance of the club and the turbulence of the times have an important place their hearts and minds. Entering Studio One provided a sense of freedom and acceptance during a time of rampant homophobia and police harassment. Young gay men would find a sense of community and safety here.

Connected to it was the dance club, The Backlot and it became the hottest live music venue in town. On any given night, stars like Liza Minnelli, Chita Rivera or Eartha Kitt  were there alongside up and comers Roseanne Barr or Rosie O’Donnell and others.

The story is told through first-hand accounts and anecdotes of the times. We hear famous and not famous voices sharing personal recollections of the place and the times. Through the lens of Studio One and The Backlot, stories of that time are being documented for generations to come.

On the night of Saturday, Nov. 9, West Hollywood said goodbye to a big piece of its history, when an enthusiastic crowd gathered in the space now known as The Robertson— once the site of what was arguably gay LA’s most iconic disco, Studio One.

The film hearkens back to the club’s glory days, when celebrities performed there.There are plenty of important reasons why the club’s legacy should be preserved. For many of the generation or so of former patrons for whom Studio One was an important touchstone, the most profound reasons are their own memories.

The world has changed since the glory days of Studio One, and acceptance is much easier to find for the LGBT community, but there are few, if any, places today that offer a taste of freedom quite so sweet as did Studio One. For that reason, in years to come, as they drive past the luxury hotel is to erected on the property, many gay men will always feel a bit of sadness.

“Studio One Forever” has an anticipated release date of October 2020.

“Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe” by Judith Herrin— A History of the City

Herrin, Judith. “Ravenna: Capital of Empire, Crucible of Europe”, Princeton University Press, 2020.

A History of the City

Amos Lassen

In “Ravenna”, Judith Herrin tells the story of “the city that led the West out of the ruins of the Roman Empire”.

At the end of the fourth century, Rome was losing power and Constantinople became the seat of empire. At the same time, a new capital city was rising in the West— Ravenna on the coast of Italy where Arian Goths and Catholic Romans vied to create an unrivaled concentration of buildings and astonishing mosaics. For three centuries, Ravenna attracted scholars, lawyers, craftsmen, and religious luminaries. She became a true cultural and political capital. Herrin rewrites the history of East and West in the Mediterranean and shows how, thanks to Byzantine influence, the city played a crucial role in the development of medieval Christendom.

Here are personal stories of Ravenna as they fit into Mediterranean and Christian history. We read of the lives of the Empress Galla Placidia and the Gothic king Theoderic as Herrin describes the achievements of an amazing cosmographer and a doctor who revived Greek medical knowledge in Italy thus ending the idea that the West was descending into the medieval “Dark Ages.”

I do not think that Ravenna, until now has received its due as a major city in history.She played an extensive role in the transformation of the Roman world and Herrin introduces us to characters that she imbues with great empathy. Her extensive research allows her to brings us characters who are very real. The focus is from the fifth to eighth centuries during which Ravenna “reconceptualizes what was ‘East’ and what was ‘West.’”

 Weread of the city and the people who shaped it. Ravenna was a  rival of Rome, a Byzantine outpost in the West, and a model for Charlemagne’s imperial aspirations.

“Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader” edited by Don Bachardy and James P. White— An Introduction to Isherwood

Isherwood, Christopher. “Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader”, edited by Don Bachardy and James P. White and with an introduction by Gore Vidal,  Picador Reprint, 2020.

An Introduction to Isherwood

Amos Lassen

“Where Joy Resides: A Christopher Isherwood Reader” is a wide-ranging collection of fiction and nonfiction and a perfect introduction to the author’s writings.

 The quotation from Stevenson that is the title of the book is placed as the epigraph to this selection of works by Isherwood. Included here are selections that span Isherwood’s  life as a writer from the early days in Berlin to the last days in Hollywood. Editors Don Bachardy and James P. White include the short novel “A Single Man” as the final selection. It is considered to be the finest of Isherwood’s novels and that one whose style and content delineate an ending to life and art in a beautiful way. The other selections in the book include fictional, biographical, critical and spiritual writings that help the reader get a picture of Isherwood’s life from his own creations.

We see how he imagined a world of love and freedom in an era when that life was hidden in ways that are difficult to comprehend in the twenty-first century. His friend Gore Vidal, to whom Isherwood dedicated A Single Man, states in his introduction: “throughout Christopher’s life and work – and he made the two the same – he never ceased to attempt the impossible: to say exactly what a thing was and how it struck him in such a way that the reader might grasp it as he himself did, writer and reader as one in the ultimate collusive act of understanding.” 

This selection of his works captures that and presents it to readers everywhere.