A formerly closeted man blows the lid off of his homosexuality â€œlike gangbusters.”
From an early age, Anderson knew he looked and felt differently than the other boys in his Minnesota hometown in the ’50s. In nonlinear recounted stories and dreams, the author details his younger years being bullied by his peers for simply being different. Through exploring his strange attraction to men, he befriends a handsome wood-shop teacher in seventh grade, but that relationship ends disastrously when the teacher accuses him of being a â€œlittle fruit.” The pressure to conform and live a â€œnormal” heterosexual lifestyle overrides his burgeoning sexuality–Anderson writes, â€œBy then, I could think myself into practically anything.” His studies at the University of Minnesota cultivate a love for literature fostered by his mentor, an erudite English teacher who introduces him to his future wife. His post-graduate years find Anderson teaching as well, a career he never imagined for himself. Confused, Anderson â€œcompartmentalize(s)” love interests: he courts Judy, a fellow University student, and concurrently expresses interest in a creatively cultured Irish Catholic man who fades into memory as Judy becomes a safe haven for his sexual ambivalence. The pair swiftly marries and bears a daughter (who later confesses to lesbian feelings), though bouts of â€œcertain longings and attractions” test the boundaries of the marriage, including Anderson’s unrequited dalliances with other men. Anderson switches into a publishing career, and soon experiences a â€œone-man Renaissance,” in which he stopped suppressing his homosexual feelings. The author finally divorces after 16 years of marriage and undergoes therapy and personal experimentation, emerging a healthy and happy gay man navigating a new life with no regrets, including retaining a close friendship with his ex-wife and fending off the loss of his eyesight. Ultimately, these â€œpieces” amount to a consummate memoir, but they lack structure in the early chapters. Still, persistent readers will find cohesion and narrative clarity within Anderson’s chronicle.
A poignant, liberating memoir–recognizable for many and liberating for most.