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THE VELVETEEN FATHER by Jesse Green

THE VELVETEEN FATHER

An Unexpected Journey to Parenthood

By Jesse Green

Pub Date: June 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-375-50164-9
Publisher: Villard

A gay father’s memoir, stranger and more powerful reading than the author’s fictional work. The remarkable contents here suggest years of artistic and personal growth. Green—an award-winning journalist who contributes to numerous periodicals, from the New York Times Magazine to Out, and the author of the 1992 novel O Beautiful—is a single Manhattan gay male, a successful writer with supportive Jewish parents, whose life turns around when he finds the love of his life, an older Brooklyn school guidance counselor. Andy is also Jewish but unlike the author is an “imperfectionist” and the son of a “brownstone-belt Queen Lear.” His greatest distinction is that he is one of the first single gay men to adopt a child. The baby boy, Erez, is a rambunctious Mexican whose birth mother was never met. The responsibilities overwhelm and transform Green, who now feels somewhat alienated from those “gay men who remain single [and] make a kind of life’s work out of adolescence, their days filled with gossip, crushes, self-beautification.” Many back in the Village or the Hamptons don—t know why he didn—t get a Chihuahua. The book is full of insightful, eloquent, and clever passages about parenthood, sexuality, and the “blood libels” of the homophobic political right. Only on religion do these well-turned lines, often turned upside down for effect, sound shallow. Despite the playful response “after this, I want your tubes tied,” Green agrees to adopt another child (another Mexican baby boy). With this son, Lucas, the author takes on even more of the physical and emotional responsibilities of parenthood than he earlier shared with his partner. To drastically finalize his commitment, Green moves to the Brooklyn neighborhood of his new future and family. A standout comment on the eternal and contemporary implications of family emerges from this enjoyable story that is far too good not to be true.