A TV veteran’s memories of coming-of-age—and coming out of the closet—as an aspiring writer and actor in New York.
This debut collection of essays shows how long it took Janetti to find his footing on a career path that included Will & Grace (as executive producer) and Family Guy (as a writer). “I hadn’t…decided if I was going to be a writer or an actor,” he writes, “since both seemed equally impossible it was almost like choosing between being an astrophysicist and a Navy SEAL.” The author knew he was gay from early childhood and was teased about it through adolescence, but he didn’t fully come to terms with himself until he was 18, when he “was finally born.” The thematic undercurrent throughout the book is how much different things once were—before cellphones and websites and Google and GPS—when it took so much longer to find anything out. The particulars vary in interest. Janetti’s stories about trying to convince his mother to let him stay home from school by feigning illness aren’t much different from anyone else’s. Nor is his pre-adolescent appreciation of Cher particularly noteworthy: “Today kids have thousands of role models,” he writes. “And a Google search will instantly connect you to a wide variety of organizations catering to the entire LGBTQ community. Then we only had Cher….She was our pride parade, our GLAAD, our OUT magazine, our Trevor Project, all rolled into one.” There are some allusions to the author’s husband and his successful career but little indication of how Janetti got from the “here” of his formative years to the “there” of his belated writing career. In “Letter to My Younger Self,” he assures his younger self that everything will turn out all right. “I have had a good run, I can’t deny that,” he writes, though perhaps he’s saving a lot of his material for a future book.
An essayist finds his voice within a hit-or-miss collection.