A simultaneously tragic and uplifting story of enduring love.

The acclaimed novelist and playwright traces one of his significant relationships, from its inauspicious origins on the Brooklyn Bridge in 1959 to its heart-wrenching conclusion during the height of the 1980s AIDS epidemic.

Caldwell (The Pig Goes to Dog Heaven, 2010, etc.), the winner of the Rome Prize for Literature, packs a lot into this brief yet rich, meditative memoir about a talented Midwestern transplant trying to make his mark on New York City. Aspiring playwright, defiant Catholic, struggling novelist, courageous civic activist, conflicted soap-opera scribe: Caldwell approaches the many roles in his life with an offhanded aplomb that belies his depth as an artist. In reconciling his homosexuality with his steadfast Catholicism, the author writes, “whenever I’m asked about my sexuality, I say, ‘I am, by God’s good grace, as gay as a goose.’ Glib, I know, but true.” Later, he wonders if “the greatest satanic success since the eating of the Edenic apple was the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine to Christianity.” The author’s sexuality, no wonder, plays a central role in this story, and much of it predates the Stonewall uprising, in an era when being gay could get you fired from a job on a trailblazing soap opera like Dark Shadows. As Caldwell explains, not only did he have to keep mum about his homosexuality while writing for the enduring cult TV favorite, he also had to mute any intrinsically gay themes. Ultimately, though, this memoir is about the author’s 30-year, on-again, off-again (mostly off) relationship with the young photographer named Gale that he met at dawn on the Brooklyn Bridge. Throughout his triumphs and travails, Caldwell never abandoned hope that the two would one day be reunited, and when the reunion ultimately occurs, it hits as hard as any love story could.

A simultaneously tragic and uplifting story of enduring love.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-883285-83-8

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Delphinium

Review Posted Online: Aug. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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