This lovely, engaging memoir by acclaimed entertainment writer Sessums is not so much a gay coming-out story (although its author does discover and act upon his homosexuality) as an investigation of the effects of popular culture on a young, white boy growing up in the racist South in the 1950s. Sessums, who has written for Vanity Fair, Interview and Allure, was born in 1956 and raised outside of Jackson, Miss., by loving parents (although his father wished him to be less effeminate) both of whom died before his 10th birthday. But the heart of Sessums's memoir is how Hollywood and Broadway stars were obsessions and guide posts to a different life, and how female icons (such as Dusty Springfield and Audrey Hepburn) were important role models as he became part of a gay community. At times the prose can be preeningly literary as when Sessums describes his mother and her friends as "they carefully rubbed Coppertone suntan lotion on their smooth and lovely backs, their jutting shoulder blades like the nubs of de-winged angels grubbing around down here on earth." But at other times he can be emotionally shocking and precise as when recalling how, at 16, he hears his older friend Frank Hains tell a delighted Eudora Welty about his affairs with "young African-Americans." A marked detour from the often repetitive coming-out memoir, Sessums's story offers wit and incisive observation. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
“A charming but bracingly unsentimental work . . . Utterly compelling.” People
“What a writer! What honesty! Kevin Sessums seamlessly weaves his heart-breaking, funny, outrageous, can't-put-it-down story.” Ellen DeGeneres
“Mississippi Sissy is a book I've been waiting for most of my life, though I didn't fully understand that fact until I read [it]...Kevin Sessums is some sort of cockeyed national treasure.” Michael Cunningham
“Mississippi Sissy manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking, often in the same moment. Kevin Sessums not only has a great story to tell, he is a great storyteller.” Carole Radziwill
“Sessums re-creates a colorful cast of characters. . . . [His] unique sensibility shines through . . . in his wonderful ear for language, and his eye for Southern foibles.” Elle
“Heroic and heartfelt . . . [Sessums] describes situations with clarity and humility. . . . With no small amount of wit and grace, he captures life then as he saw and heard it.” Christina Eng, San Francisco Chronicle
“With a patiently observant and chillingly sensual voice, Sessums has written an important memoir.” Matt Saldana, Jackson Free Press
“Mississippi Sissy is an unforgettable memoir. I think it will strike a strong chord with many, many readers. It's a far different book than ""Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil," " but it cast the same kind of spell over me while I was reading it.” Mark Childress
“Kevin Sessums is a brilliant writer. He is also a courageous one. Mississippi Sissy is beautifully told - hilarious yet harrowing, tragic yet inspiring. This book will deeply touch anyone who has ever felt different, which means every single one of us.” E. Lynn Harris
“The depth of the writing equals the depth of his wounds and yet there is an optimism, a surviving instinct, an honesty and an incredible dignity throughout. This book is very powerful!” Diane Von Furstenberg
“I could not put Kevin Sessums memoir down. A young, white, gay boy, who grew up in a whirl and survived the injustices of class and prejudice, Sessums lyrically, narrates his escape from this tyranny of southern hate. This is the story of an angel with asbestos skin. Were this fiction, it would be on a par with John Kennedy Toole's The Confederacy of Dunces.” Andre Leon Talley, Editor at Large, Vogue
“Wow! What a book! I was both shocked and moved by it. It is said that an unexamined life is not worth living. Kevin Sessums examines his with wisdom and humor and a true writer's sense of grace. This book will create more than the proverbial buzz. It will cause a sensation.” David Geffen
“I was so moved by Kevin Sessums's funny, sad evocation of his childhood and teenage years in Mississippi Sissy. His youthful instinct for finding the theatrical, musical, and literary locals who opened his eyes to the outside world that he yearned to know about is wonderfully touching.” Dominick Dunne
“Mississippi Sissy manages to be both hilarious and heartbreaking, often in the same moment. It is a poignant story of innocence and sexuality; tragedy and courage. But it is ultimately a tale of perseverance of the human spirit. Kevin Sessums not only has a great story to tell, he is a great storyteller.” Carole Radziwill
“Gutsy, moving, richly-textured and immensely funny revelation, and a precisely remembered evocation of the southern political and cultural landscape in the 60s and 70s.” Patti Carr Black"