Sunday, September 21, 2014

Thank You, Charles M. Blow

Charles Blow, 2014. Photo by Chad Batka for the New York Times.
Writer Charles M. Blow has done what I was not able to do. His new memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones, deals with two subjects also addressed in Patrick Husted's memoir Excavating Pieces: An American Childhood, which came out almost exactly a year ago. As the editor of Excavating Pieces and as Patrick's ex-wife, I had high hopes for the book. I still do, but I am not a prominent columnist for the New York Times and I do not have Mr. Blow's following, so I am delighted to see this new book make its debut. The subjects I refer to are the sexual abuse of boys, a much more common occurrence than most of us realize (1 in 6 per U.S. health statistics), and its lingering effects, particularly as they pertain to men who are somewhere in the middle of the gay-straight continuum. Mr. Blow's essay in today's New York Times, adapted from his book, covers ground that is very familiar to me—the rage, the guilt, the confusion and self-loathing on the long road to healing and forgiveness. Its resemblance to my ex-husband's story is eery. In fact, I have heard versions of this story many times, not only from male survivors but also from wives and mothers. The men don't always make it. Depression and suicide run high in this population. We desperately need courageous men like Charles Blow and Patrick Husted to come forward and tell their stories. And when they do, we need to pay attention.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My New Gig: READ THIS Before You Leave the Country

Wendy and her two boys atop the Eiffel Tower.
Travel savant Wendy Perrin launched her new website today and it is so good it's almost scary. I played an itty-bitty role in the launch, reading through approximately a gazillion words of insider advice from travel experts all over the world, sorted by destination—priceless advice gathered and vetted by Wendy and her team in a superhuman effort to save you and everyone you know from mediocre travel experiences. (Do not—do not—come to visit me in Paris without checking out the Paris for Food Lovers Insider's Guide.) Wendy was a superstar at Condé Nast Traveler, and I'm ecstatic to be part of her new venture (truth in travel lives!). The "About Us" page includes some of my favorite people from Traveler days, people like Debi Dunn, who once sent me to Moscow in the dead of winter (for which I utterly forgive her). As some of you know, I was in a funk about the direction the "new" CNTraveler was taking, but I am done with all that. Magazines, pleh. I am Miss New Media now. (I just wish I could remember my Twitter password.) Linking, linking, linking . . .

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Happy Endings

Amanda Stern

The Happy Ending Reading and Music Series, hosted by Amanda Stern, requires authors to take one public risk (do something they've never done before) on stage. This is where I'll be tonight. Here's what people have done in the past:
Jessica Anthony sang “What a Feelin’” in sign language
Lucy Corin gave a science lecture without understanding her lecture topic
Michael Cunningham gave a five minute lecture on the entire history of English literature. 
Julie Orringer played “2 second animal,” with the audience, a game she made up on an airplane
Ryan Harty breathed fire
Kevin Wilson read obituaries he wrote for himself in high school. Each one cast him as a man of great importance in fields as varied as football and movie star

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Dear Peter: My Inner Teen Is in Love With Your Inner Teen

Two thirds of the way through Always a Catch, Peter Richmond's first YA novel, budding prep-school football star Jack Lefferts finally gets up the balls to bare his soul to Caroline Callahan, a brainy eleventh-grader with more literary references at her fingertips than the Library of Congress. So what does the kid do? He suddenly busts out—no more Mr. Shy Guy—and barges into her dorm (strictly off-limits), bounds up the stairs, looks both ways and, seeing the coast is clear, rushes to her door and knocks. The door opens:
She was wearing a sweatshirt and sweatpants, her hair pulled into a ponytail. "What are you doing here?" she said. "This is stupid, Jack. Booth's a bitch. If she catches you . . . " She pulled me in by my sweatshirt and closed the door. "So whatever you have to say couldn't have waited?"
What did I have to say? Wait, that was easy. "I just wanted to know if . . . if we, you know, are . . . I don't know . . . "
"You're going to have to learn how to finish a sentence, Lefferts, if Jarvis is going to give you an A."
We stood there, stupidly. Then she reached out both her hands, with her palms up. So I put my hands in hers. And maybe then there was some sort of current. It was definitely electric. For me, anyway. She was just totally cool and relaxed.
"We're something," she said. "Why do you have to label it? Now, get out of here. All we need is Booth busting me. Or you."