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Love, Christopher Street

by Christopher Verleger
Contributor
Tuesday Jul 16, 2013
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In what can best be described as a love letter to New York City, writer and editor Thomas Keith has compiled 26 essays and anecdotes from a veritable Who’s-Who of LGBT artists in "Love, Christopher Street," a profound, heartfelt and above all, entertaining collection of original, personal stories that examine gay, lesbian and transgender life, dating back more than four decades up until present day, throughout the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island.

Having edited earlier anthologies about New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles, Keith’s selections for this latest entry in his tribute series showcase the LGBT experience for natives of the Big Apple, transplants from other states, and international artists. Each essay is informative, educational and engrossing, written in tones of voice varying from humorous and audacious to tenacious and zealous.

The first entry, and one of the best, is from Bob Smith, the first openly gay comedian to appear on "The Tonight Show" and renowned author and novelist, who recounts his days doing stand-up in the 1980s and his trademark gallows humor that has prevailed since his ALS diagnosis. Fellow novelist Val McDermid revisits a timeline of events from her esteemed career that encompasses two continents and more than two dozen bestselling novels. Fiction writer Justine Saracen beautifully and passionately describes the influence of opera on her work and how one particular performance at the Met featuring a lesbian love triangle inspired her first novel.

Young Vietnamese author Ocean Vuong shares the often frightening details of his fascinating journey as a collegiate vagabond who spent time squatting at Penn Station. Performance artist Penny Arcade relays her stranger than fiction saga as a New York City runaway during the Andy Warhol era, and author Rabbi Andrea Myers compares her experiences in New York, Montreal and Jerusalem, calling special attention to the shoes she wears.

In an entry we can all relate to, Aaron Hamburger, author of "Faith for Beginners," shares his trials and tribulations of trying to find love, romance and marriage, while veteran author Felice Picano revisits the underground gay bar and sex club scene of the 1960s. Christopher Bram lists the pros and cons of living in the same building with the same partner for more than thirty years, and Eddie Safarty, fellow comedian and friend of Bob Smith, invites you to Passover on Long Island with his mother and gay entourage in the book’s final and funniest, most unforgettable entry.

"Love, Christopher Street" will leave readers impressed, inspired and enlightened. Despite their differences in age, gender and ethnic origin, these essayists all share a fondness for New York, and their combined stories are proof that the city’s immeasurable impact on LGBT art and artists continues today.

Love, Christopher Street
Edited by Thomas Keith
Chelsea Station Editions
$20.00

by Thomas Keith

Chris Verleger is an avid reader, aspiring novelist and self-professed theater geek from Providence. Email cwverleger1971@yahoo.com.

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