Gay American Autobiography

Gay American Autobiography

by David Bergman
     
 

In the first anthology to survey the full range of gay men's autobiographical writing from Walt Whitman to the present, Gay American Autobiography draws excerpts from letters, journals, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies to provide examples of the best life writing over the last century and a half.

Volume editor David Bergman guides the reader

Overview


In the first anthology to survey the full range of gay men's autobiographical writing from Walt Whitman to the present, Gay American Autobiography draws excerpts from letters, journals, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies to provide examples of the best life writing over the last century and a half.

Volume editor David Bergman guides the reader chronologically through selected writings that give voice to every generation of gay writers since the nineteenth century, including a diverse array of American men of African, European, Jewish, Asian, and Latino heritage. Documenting a range of life experiences that encompass tattoo artists and academics, composers and drag queens, hustlers and clerks, it contains accounts of turn-of-the-century transvestites, gay rights activists, men battling AIDS, and soldiers attempting to come out in the army. Each selection provides important insight on the wide spectrum of ways gay men have defined and lived their lives, highlighting how self-awareness changes an author's experience.

The volume includes an introduction by Bergman and headnotes for each of the nearly forty entries. Bringing many out-of-print and hard-to-find works to new readers, this challenging and comprehensive anthology chronicles American gay history and life struggles over the course of the past 150 years.

Finalist, Lambda Book Award for LGBT Anthology, Lambda Literary Foundation

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Intimacy as history! I adored these glimpses into gay men’s lives, and thank David Bergman for having uncovered them. I only wish I’d had this book decades sooner.”—Michael Lowenthal, author of Charity Girl

“Bergman has brought together an impressive, diverse cache of source materials in a field which has been written on, but has always lacked a generic anthology. There have been subject- and period-based anthologies, but nothing spanning the 150 years or so of available material in this way.”—Richard Canning, University of Sheffield

Publishers Weekly

The earlier entries in this panoramic compilation of gay male autobiography rely mostly on letters and journals, mined by Bergman for homo-affectionate allusions: 19th-century writers such as Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Henry James thus reveal themselves. Excerpts of work by more contemporary authors, from poet Edward Field and historian Martin Duberman to science fiction author Samuel R. Delany and performance artist Justin Chin-the youngest born in 1969-are more explicit about their queer lives. Paul Monette, dying of AIDS, writes movingly about hoping to outlive his dog, and a strutting John Rechy, still very much alive, writes puckishly about prissy homosexuals of the '70s. Gay literary (and living) icons Edmund White, Andrew Holleran and David Sedaris are rightly represented, but works by David Wojnarowicz, David Feinberg, Essex Hemphill and Gil Cuadros, all dead of AIDS, are a poignant reminder of literary lives cut short. Bergman's selections artfully avoid the standard coming-out tropes of 20th-century writers in favor of intimate, immediate literature penned by homosexuals well out of the closet. (July)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299230449
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
05/01/2009
Series:
Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog
Edition description:
1
Pages:
428
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Meet the Author

David Bergman is professor of English at Towson State University and author of numerous books including Cracking the Code, winner of the 1985 George Elliston Poetry Prize, and Men on Men 2000, winner of the 2001 Lambda Literary Award for Best Literary Anthology.

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