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A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984

by Bill Biss
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Monday Jul 8, 2013
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The whole premise of reading someone else’s journal, whether it’s left unlocked or left open on a table, will never be a "rule of thumb" for good etiquette. It is the sense instilled in knowing that you are doing something you really shouldn’t have.

Yet, in the case of Glenway Wescott, it will always be perfectly all right. Wescott was a noted gay American author of fiction and essays who also was a unique thinker and lecturer along with having a rare skill of being a magician with the written word. These personal and initially private thoughts have opened just one historical door to a homosexual’s closeted life, the high and wild society of the rich and famous people around him and the fascinating relationships of his astounding circle of friends and associates. These personal journals and his gifted talent as a novelist, secure his place as one of the very finest writers of the 20th Century. First presented as a huge volume covering his life from 1937 to 1955 and titled "Continual Lessons" by Glenway Wescott, it definitely seems a clear choice to move his progressive thinking and life forward to present his personal thoughts again with "A Heaven of Words:Last Journals, 1956-1984" to the inquiring reader/writer... whoever he/she may be.

While "Continual Lessons" spanned up to 1955 with lover and partner in business and life, Monroe Wheeler and other notables and authors who are numerous personalities of the first caliber, this progression "A Heaven of Words" continues into the majority of the rest of his life and follows once more his wit, humor and career through 1956 to 1987. Aptly titled "A Heaven of Words," this book couldn’t have been presented in such a fashion without the passionate editing and friendship of Jerry Rosco, who has brilliantly captured Wescott’s life by writing his biography, "Glenway Wescott Personally."

"A Heaven of Words" takes the reader into a completely different social stratosphere and arena of social upheaval, class distinction, growth and revelations of the late 1950s, the decade of the 60s and the burst of sexuality in the 1970s. Wescott shares his astute ability and understanding of the written word to create memories of pure life by just putting life into words that define it beautifully with individuality and thoroughly engaging structure, flair and observation and delicious gossip. That is the talent and the gift left for whomever opens his "world of words" left for all to see by the now-deceased writer Glenway Wescott.

"A Heaven of Words: Last Journals, 1956-1984"
Glenway Wescott and edited with an introduction by Jerry Rosco
University of Wisconsin Press
$24.95

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