It is the summer of 1940, and Lisbon is one of the only neutral ports left in Europe Â- a city filled with spies, crowned heads and refugees of every nationality, tipping back absinthe to while away the time until their escape. Awaiting safe passage to New York on the S. S. Manhattan, two couples meet: Pete and Julia Winters, expatriate Americans fleeing their sedate life in Paris; and Edward and Iris Freleng, elegant, independently wealthy, bohemian, and beset by the social and sexual anxieties of their class. Swept up in the tumult, the hidden currents of the lives of these four characters Â- Julia's status as a Jew, Pete and Edward's affair, Iris's increasingly desperate efforts to save her tenuous marriage Â- begin to come loose. This journey will change the four of them irrevocably, as Europe sinks into war.
At eighteen, Paul Porterfield's dream is to play the piano at the world's great concert halls, yet so far the closest he has come has been turning pages for his idol, Richard Kennington, a former piano prodigy on the cusp of middle age. Then, on vacation in Rome with his mother, Pamela, Paul encounters Kennington a second time. A love affair begins between the two - one that is complicated when Pamela misconstrues Kennington's attention toward her son as a sign of interest in her. Alarmed by the situation, Kennington flees Rome for New York, where Joseph Mansourian, his manager (and lover) of twenty-five years, awaits him; Paul, too, goes to New York to study at Juilliard. They do not see each other. Yet the brief affair will affect their lives in ways that neither could have predicted. "Why can't people have what they want?" It is around this question that David Leavitt's new novel so movingly pivots. By turns comic and heartbreaking, shrewd and intimate, The Page Turner testifies not only to the tenacity of the human spirit but to the resiliency of the human heart.
Here are three novellas of escape and exile, touching and funny and at times calculatedly outrageous. In "Saturn Street," a disaffected L.A. screenwriter delivers lunches to homebound AIDS patients, only to find himself falling in love with one of them. In "The Wooden Anniversary," Nathan and Celia - familiar characters from Leavitt's story collections - reunite after a five-year separation. And in "The Term-Paper Artist," a writer named David Leavitt, hiding out at his father's house in the aftermath of a publishing scandal, experiences literary rejuvenation when he agrees to write term papers for UCLA undergraduates in exchange for sex.
David Leavitt's deliciously sharp new novel is a multilayered dissection of literary and sexual mores in the get-ahead eighties, when outrageous success lay seductively within reach of any young writer ambitious enough to grab it.
At the dawn of the Reagan era, Martin Bauman -- nineteen, clever, talented, and insecure -- is enrolled at a prestigious college with a hard-won place under the tutelage of the legendary and enigmatic Stanley Flint, a man who can make or break careers with the flick of a weary hand. Martin is poised on the brink of the writing life, and his twin desires, equally urgent, are to get into print and find his way out of the closet.
As he makes his way through the wilderness of New York -- falling in love, going to parties, and coming to terms with the emerging chaos of AIDS -- Martin matures from brilliant student, to apprentice in a Manhattan publishing house, to one of the golden few to be anointed by the highly regarded magazine in which it is every young writer's dream to be published. Yet despite his apparent success, his emotional and creative desires stubbornly refuse to be satisfied, and his every achievement is haunted by that austere and troubling image of literary perfection, his elusive mentor, Stanley Flint.
An irresistibly entertaining epic, erotic, honest, and funny, MARTIN BAUMAN lays bare the life of the artist, in all his venal, envious, poignant glory.
Owen and Rose are facing serious challenges to their married life of routine and monotony as New York City grows and changes around them. They spend most Sundays apart; while Rose buries herself in crosswords and newspapers, Owen visits gay porn theaters. But when they discover they may lose their apartment and their son, prompted by his new relationship, reveals his homosexuality, their lives cannot continue as they were. Owen and Rose are forced to confront not only their son's revelation but also Owen's latent homosexuality. Poignant and lingering, this is a tale of love and relationships, secrets and unspoken desires.
It's 1969 and Denny is on her way to the annual Thanksgiving dinner at the Wright's plush campus house. Denny is more nervous than usual because she has recently begun an affair with Dr Ernest Wright, a psychology professor who happens to be her boss. Needless to say, Ernest's wife Nancy doesn't suspect dowdy Denny of seducing her husband and continues to treat her more like a servant than a friend. To add to the tension, the Wright's only daughter is having a secret affair with Ernest's protege, and the youngest son, Ben, is as delicate and insufferable as only a poetry-writing fifteen-year-old can be. But this year the guests will include Nancy's best friend Anne and her new husband, the celebrated novelist Jonah Boyd, and this fateful holiday will turn out to be like no other.
Louise Cooper has been battling cancer for over twenty years. Her growing resentment towards her suburban life and her husband, Nat, compounded by his affair, have left her longing for the life she dreamed of having in her youth. Meanwhile her family are facing other challenges. Her son Danny, a lawyer in San Francisco, has discovered his lover is growing obsessed with online sex, and her daughter, a lesbian protest-singer, announces herself pregnant after performing DIY artificial insemination with everyday kitchen utensils. This is a rich exploration of a family facing inexorable change.
Florence is the only European city I can think of whose most famous citizens, at least in the last 150 years or so, have all been foreigners.' Thus David Leavitt writes in this lively account of expatriate life in the city of the lily. His narrative begins by asking why Florence has always proven to be such a popular destination for suicides, then moves into an analysis of what makes the city, in Henry James's words, such a 'delicate case.' Why, for instance, has Florence always drawn so many English and American visitors. (At the turn of the century, the Anglo-American population numbered more than 30,000.) Why have men and women fleeing sex scandal traditionally settled here? What about Florence has made it so fascinating and so repellent - to artists and writers over the years? Moving between present and past, Leavitt's narrative limns the history of the foreign colony from its origins in the middle of the nineteenth century until its demise under Mussolini, and considers the appeal of Florence to figures as diverse as Tchaikovsky, E. M. Forster, Ronald Firbank, Mary McCarthy, Mrs Keppel (mistress to King Edward VII) and Henry Labouchere, author of the Labouchere Amendment, under the provisions of which Oscar Wilde was convicted.
This is a complete collection of moving, elegant and often witty short stories from one of America's most respected writers. Here, David Leavitt covers a range of challenging themes such as illness, grief and betrayal with his inimitable graceful touch. He takes the reader from Switzerland to San Francisco, and from a young man's attempt to contract the HIV virus to American tourists being startled by the local conventions in Italy. Bringing together Family Dancing (a finalist for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Prize), A Place I've Never Been and The Marble Quilt, this edition affirms David Leavitt's mastery of the short-story form.
In 'Saturn Street' a disaffected screenwriter in Los Angeles volunteers to deliver lunches to homebound AIDS patients and falls in love with one of his clients. In 'The Wooden Anniversary', Nathan and Celia - characters familiar to readers of Leavitt's short story collections - reunite awkwardly, at the cooking school Celia runs in Tuscany, after a five-year separation. And in 'The Term Paper Artist', a writer named David Leavitt, hiding out at his father's house in the aftermath of a publishing scandal, experiences literary rejuvenation when he agrees to write term papers for UCLA undergraduates in exchange for sex.
Comical, lyrical and speculative, in these three innovative novellas David Leavitt explores the themes of escape, exile and homecoming with a keen eye for human weakness - and strength.
At eighteen, Paul Porterfield aspires to play the piano at the world's great concert halls. So far the closest he has come has been to turn pages of sheet music for his idol, the dashing, temperamental Richard Kennington, a former piano prodigy on the cusp of middle age.
Months later, while on holiday with his mother in Italy, Paul encounters Richard a second time. Their earlier attraction develops into an intense affair. As the innocence of first love becomes entangled with the quest for a more enduring happiness, Paul comes to realise that he cannot be a page turner all his life and that he has to confront his ambitions.
With artful storytelling, shrewd perception and arch humour, THE PAGE TURNER testifies to the bittersweet truths of strained relationships and the resiliency of the human heart.
Set against the rise of fascism in 1930s Europe, WHILE ENGLAND SLEEPS tells the story of the love affair between Brian Botsford, an upper-class young writer, and Edward Phelan, an idealistic, self-educated employee of the London Underground and a member of the Communist party. Though by far the better educated of the two Brian is also more callow, convinced that his homosexuality is something he will outgrow. Edward, on the other hand, possesses 'an unproblematic capacity to accept' both Brian and the unorthodox nature of their love for each other - until one day, at the urging of his wealthy aunt Constance, Brian agrees to be set up with a 'suitable' young woman...and soon enough Edward is pushed to the point of crisis. Fleeing, he volunteers to fight in Spain, where he ends up in prison. Brian, responsible for Edward's flight, must pursue him across Europe, into the violent chaos of war.