Leddick, David. “The Beauty of Men Never Dies: An Autobiographical Novel”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2013.
Memories, Attitudes and Opinions
There is an interesting thing in reviewing that I have noticed lately. I had always understood that it was considered impolite for a writer to contact a reviewer but I have begun to notice lately that that rule seems to have gone the way of learning penmanship and I hear from writers all the time now. That brings me to David Leddick. Several months ago (I know it was in the few months because I was already living in Boston) I reviewed one of Leddick’s books and within a couple of gays I received a phone call from his publicist who told me Leddick was pleased with my review and wanted to send some of his books. I never say no to a book and a few days later, I got a phone call from Leddick himself telling me to be on the lookout for a package. We had a nice chat. However, regardless of how nice someone is does not influence what I write and besides the review had already been posted so there was nothing unethical here.
Now without trying to make Leddick feel old (or older), I must say that for as long as I have been out as a gay man, I have been aware of David Leddick, the man and I believe one of the first reviews I ever wrote was his “My Worst Date”. Perhaps without either one of us knowing, we have been friends for a long time. I am writing this to prepare that this review might not be too good or it might through the roof. You will have to read further to find out.
Anyway, here we go. In this new semi-autobiographical “fictional” memoir, Leddick lets us into his life without really doing so because we do not know what is real and what is made up of. For me, that is the fun of the book. Any or all of it might be real or then again, it may all be untrue. Again, I say, “So what?” This book is a lot of fun and that’s what most of us look for when we look for entertainment.
Leddick tells us what it is like to be gay when one is in his 70s. Most of us do not want to think about being senior citizens and if that is true for you, this book just might change your mind. Leddick is a sophisticate but he is also down to earth. He is not ashamed to do drag, to sing in public and to camp. He is, as they say, who he is (and I am sure you understand what I am saying here). Leddick is an original—a man who is as comfortable entertaining people from a stage as he is having guests at home. That self assurance is felt throughout this book. He lives and loves with grace and style and he has a wonderful sense of humor.
Leddick is at home wherever he goes—he has led a life of adventure all over the world and as he has lived, he also has loved. He has had quite a life and almost as many careers as lovers. He is always optimistic and a tribute to aging gracefully. So you may ask why am I reviewing a work of fiction as an autobiography. The answer is quite simple. From what I have read about and by David Leddick leads me to believe that he is writing about with several forays into fiction to keep the book moving (and I do not mean that in a negative way. I believe that the fun we get from the book partially comes from trying to decide what is true and what is not.
The book is divided into short chapters which are actually sketches yet they also include “memories, attitudes, and opinions drawn from the past, combine in a vivid tale of a life lived with panache at an age when most people think the adventure has already ended”.
There is something very interesting about LGBT seniors. After having indulged in gay life in their youth, they tend to retreat as they get older and I think one of the reasons for that is the fear of rejection in a world that is dominated by the young. This is probably also the reason that we do not hear about them yet many were our role models when we were younger. I used to say that for me the worst part of getting old is the realization that I have become one of the men that I used to say no to.
Leddick has the unique advantage of not letting age affect him. He shares what he has lived through and he also shares his insights and opinions. He may be a voice from the past but he is also a voice of the present. More than anything he is a voice that needs to be heard and this book is a wonderful place to listen to that voice.
About David Leddick:
“David Leddick is a writer, playwright, actor, and contributor to the Huffington Post. His previous careers have included service in the U.S. Navy, dancing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, and working as creative director with the advertising clients Revlon and L’Oreal in New York and Paris. He began his writing career at the age of sixty-five, and he is the author of twenty-three books, including the novels My Worst Date and The Sex Squad, as well as many photography books about the male nude”.