Surviving James Dean

Surviving James Dean

5.0 2
by William Bast

A beautifully written memoir, candid and definitive, that tells the story of Bast's five year relationship with the charismatic actor and American legend—James Dean.


A beautifully written memoir, candid and definitive, that tells the story of Bast's five year relationship with the charismatic actor and American legend—James Dean.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bast, a TV writer and journalist, was infatuated with James Dean (1931-1955) from the moment they met (at UCLA in 1950). A closeted gay man, Bast had a crush on the brooding, unknown actor and had a brief fling with him. This work records their close friendship, Dean's rise to stardom and the years following his premature death at age 24. Dean's troubled life is well documented, and Bast isn't interested in repeating his previous James Dean, a Biography, written in 1956. At the time, Bast was loathe to reveal his homosexuality or Dean's affairs with men. He now hopes to make up for his "youthful shortcomings and omissions." The hook is Dean's sexuality, which Bast explores in detail, discounting his relationships with women and focusing on those with men, including a stint with a notorious "chicken hawk," an older man who fancies younger guys (Bast quotes Dean saying of the union, "I paid my way"). This simple, heartfelt book records Bast's coming out and the long-term impact Dean had on his life. 16-page b&w photo insert not seen by PW. (Apr.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In 1956, Bast's first book about his friendship with James Dean was published, but the full story could not be told in the Cold War era. In this unabridged version of sorts, the television writer frees half a century of memory, revealing above all that he and the famed actor were sexually involved off and on for five years. Bast deserves credit for his sense of restraint in the post-James Frey age; his divulgement is not at all disrespectful, vulgar, or shocking, but simply written as one of many traits in an extraordinarily complicated human being: a loved-starved, marrow-of-life-sucking boy-man with bipolar tendencies and a fierce dedication to acting-in short, both a holy joy and a holy terror. To be Dean's friend, roommate, and sometime lover could not have been easy, and indeed, Bast struggles to crystallize his feelings. Although often grating, his wavering makes sense by reinforcing his depiction of "Deaner" as a violent shapeshifter. Together with Dennis Stock's James Dean: 50 Years Ago, Bast offers the most human and credible snapshots of not just the budding actor, but of a young man trying to carve his destiny. Certainly, other memoirs are more artfully written, but you close the book glad at having read someone with integrity. Highly recommended for performing arts and memoir collections.-Heather McCormack, Library Journal Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

Barricade Books, Incorporated
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.41(w) x 9.36(h) x 1.06(d)

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Surviving James Dean 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Finally, a book about James Dean written by someone who actually knew him , not just glancingly, but over an extended period of time, personally and intimately in fact, over the last five years of the talented young actor's life. This author's refreshingly self-effacing yet revelatory account of his time spent with Dean manages to be both respectful and uncompromisingly honest -- no mean feat, as the reader will discover. Not only does this book finally fill in the blanks that have eluded and puzzled so many other Dean biographers over the years, but it does so with humor, honesty and, above all, with affection. Vital reading for anyone interested in James Dean, and highly recommended for anyone interested the Hollywood and New York acting scenes during the 1950s.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This beautifully written memoir really held my attention. I could not put it down. The author shares his own coming of age with gentle wit and heart. So I loved that we get to know both the author, Bast and James Dean.