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I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir [Audiobook, CD, Unabridged] [Audio CD]

Josh Kilmer-Purcel , Johnny Heller
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 30 2011
I Am Not Myself These Days follows a glittering journey through Manhattan's dark underbelly—a shocking and surreal world where alter egos reign and subsist (barely) on dark wit and chemicals...a tragic romantic comedy where one begins by rooting for the survival of the relationship and ends by hoping someone simply survives. Kilmer-Purcell is a terrifically gifted new literary voice who straddles the divide between absurdity and normalcy, and stitches them together with surprising humor and lonely poignancy. As Booklist raved, I Am Not Myself These Days is "as tart and funny as a Noël Coward play, for Kilmer-Purcell is especially good at dialogue, and, as in Coward's best plays, under the comedy lies the sad truth that even at our best, we are all weak, fallible fools. Again and again in this rich, adventure-filled book, Kilmer-Purcell illustrates the truth of Blake's proverb, 'The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.'"

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From Publishers Weekly

In the go-go '90s, Kilmer-Purcell spent his days as an advertising grunt and his nights hopping around Manhattan's gay clubs as "Aquadisiac," over seven feet tall in a wig and heels with goldfish swimming in transparent bubbles covering "her" breasts. (Not that Kilmer-Purcell wanted to actually become a woman; as he explains to his mother, a drag queen is "a celebrity trapped in a normal person's body.") He meets a cute guy, and soon he's moved into Jack's penthouse apartment—which he pays for by working as a male escort. Kilmer-Purcell gives much of his story a Sex and the City-ish spin, finding comedy in the contrast between his and Jack's sweet, cuddly relationship and the sexual demimonde of drag queens, hookers and masochists they count among their friends. But there's always a dark undercurrent: before the two get serious, Kilmer-Purcell's alcohol-impaired judgment frequently puts him in dangerous situations, but things get worse when Jack starts smoking crack during sex parties and becomes addicted. The exact, unpitying detail with which Kilmer-Purcell depicts his downward spiral makes it impossible to look away, especially since it's not until the final scenes that he allows himself to succumb to sentimentality. (Feb.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Booklist

To say Kilmer-Purcell lived a double life is an understatement. If his memoir can be believed--and even if it can't be, it's a very entertaining read--he lived double lives within double lives. A talented advertising copywriter by day and a popular drag queen by night, he was also a major alcohol and cocaine abuser and the inamorato/a of a professional male escort. Over the course of six months or so, his complicated life spun out of control as fussy clients, impatient coworkers, clingy drag groupies, love problems, and multiple chemical dependencies got the best of him, not to mention his lover. Parts of his autobiography are as tart and funny as a Noel Coward play, for Kilmer-Purcell is especially good at dialogue, and as in Coward's best plays, under the comedy lies the sad truth that even at our best, we are all weak, fallible fools. Again and again in this rich, adventure-filled book, Kilmer-Purcell illustrates the truth of Blake's proverb, "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Could not put it down Aug. 21 2009
By Zenobia
This was the kind of book you can count on shutting yourself in your room for 24 hours and asking your family to kindly fix their own breakfast/lunch/dinner - for once I started there was just no way I could put it down! I even woke up in the middle of the night and had to answer "How is Aqua doing?".

I am a fairly stoic reader and was not expecting to be so moved by this novel, I would have tears running down my face and suddenly a one liner would be thrown in that would have me laughing out loud. Aqua (author Josh Kilmer-purcell's drag persona) though a bit of a mess - ok a lot of a mess - you cannot help but love her dearly. The flash-backs that connect present day to Josh's childhood are beautiful, and without getting to much into giving away the story they really show where Josh derives a lot of his strength from. The love story with Jack steals the show for me personally and left me going "why have I not read gay romance before?".

Amazing that this is a first novel and I am really looking forward to reading his next ASAP!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Phenom! April 20 2006
By A Customer
Josh, through this one book, has become one of my most beloved authors of all time. It is an absolute must read for anyone who is even thinking about reading it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars great book Feb. 25 2006
The writing is great; the story is fabulous and moving. It's hard to believe this is a first book. In some sense, I suppose it is a memorial to Aqua, the author's drag persona, but it's the very strange, very singular love story that I found gripping. Memoirs like this are becoming a popular genre, but I haven't found one that is so human / humane and this is wittier and more profound than most... I was much more fascinated by the author's thinking about his life and relationships than I was by the glamorous Aqua. I would strongly recommend this book and I'm looking forward to the next one.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  189 reviews
31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "I'm a drag queen. I'm a celebrity trapped inside a normal person's body." April 24 2006
By Jessica Lux - Published on Amazon.com
It's New York city in the mid-1990s and our author is an advertising agent by day and a wild drag queen with fish-filled breasts at night. He performs nightly as his Aquadisiac alter-ego, staying out until the wee hours of the morning fueled by vodka, and crams in work the next day before starting all over again. Fortunately, no one can smell the vodka coming out of his pores. Much of his time is spent reconstructing the night before, figuring out where he is waking up, and trying to remember who he talked to and what he did the night before. His advertising campaigns come in brilliant bursts of last-minute energy.

Then comes Jack, the gay male escort who sweeps Josh's life into a semblance of order. Jack loves Aqua and Josh loves Jack. Mid-way through the book, the reader will realize that all the over-the-top orgies, Jack's S&M clients, the drug use, and the rampant alcohol abuse are just fluff around a true love story. Sure, it's titillating to get a glimpse inside alternate lifestyles, but this is truly the story of two misfits who complete eachother. This is a book that will teach you how a drag queen hides his private parts (an entire chapter is devoted to the deconstruction of the male and invention of the female persona), give you every detail about the process of preparing crack in a NY penthouse kitchen, show you the true friendship that develops between Josh and one of Jack's CEO clients who spends weekends tied up on the penthouse floor, and crush your heart with the agony of loving someone who is addicted to drugs. Josh, with his 10-plus vodka-a-day habit, seems like the messed up one in the beginning, but it is Jack who succumbs to addiction, leaving Josh to helplessly look on.

So we have sex, drugs, and club music, mixed up with a love story that got me in the gut by the end of the book...what more could you need? Josh tops this all off with a hilarious and over-the-top narrative voice. When depressed, he fantasizes about being in a Lifetime movie, so he drinks vodka in bed and walks around the apartment alone making declarations about a marriage, mortgage, or the kids. When he lies for a co-worker, he changes his story half a dozen times to make it more "realistic," nevermind that the facts are completely different. He's not an alcoholic, he's a social catalyst, someone who gets paid to illustrate the chemical process of drinking to other partygoers. When he wakes up to a crack-high Jack standing over him with a knife, Josh complains that he just got the expensive knife for Christmas. Jack changes his mind about the murder-suicide he had planned, and Josh goes back to sleep, reminding him to put the knife back in the rack so it doesn't rust.

As over-the-top as this narrative is, it is in no way implausible (I need to make this statement because James Frey wrote a cover blurb). The story of Jack's present to Josh for his first New York Christmas will touch even the most hardened reader. Truly, this book is Josh's tribute to a man he loved for one unforgettable year in New York city. If you enjoy this, try the darker tale of Ron Nyswaner`s love for a male escort in the book Blue Days, Black Nights.
32 of 35 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Captivating Personal Story March 9 2006
By calvinyw - Published on Amazon.com
It's a book that once you pick up, you don't want to put it down. Funny, sad, bittersweet, reminds me of Michael Cunningham and "A Home at the End of the World", not as smooth (could use some editing), but more personal.

At first, I was just interested in the unfamiliar world of male escort and drag queens. Then, through all the drugs, alcohol and prostitution, I saw 2 real people searching for that fleeting happiness. And I realized, as funny as it sounds, I started to care about the love between a crackhead hooker and an alcoholic drag queen.

All in all, a captivating personal journey and a wonderful read.

Don't let the 4 star rating fool you. I only give 5 star to books that I couldn't find any fault, and you can certainly find some areas for improvement in this book. But with me writing 3 to 4 reviews in a year, the mere fact that I am writing one showed how much I liked the book.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your basic "Bright Lights, Big Titt*es" Feb. 7 2006
By Laura Fegley - Published on Amazon.com
On the surface, "I Am Not Myself These Days" appears to be a tale of the drag underworld - and indeed, it doesn't fail to entertain with some hilarious and lurid details. But scratch the MAC foundation just a bit and I found a wonderfully written novel exploring much more universal themes - love, self destruction, self-destructive love and the search for comfort in your own skin. I absolutely loved it.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to Put Down July 15 2007
By Andrew D. Tappon - Published on Amazon.com
I had the book sitting on my shelf for a few months and picked it up last night -- in a desperate effort to rid myself of a bad book I had just been reading.

I didn't put it down except to sleep and shower.

No need for the recap -- that has handily been done by others before me -- just know that if you pick this book up, you'll be caught up in a whirlwind of laughter, sadness, relatability in ways you would never imagine and harsh truths.

I was fortunate enough to have the paperback with some extra materials, including a follow-up about "Jack" that just about shattered my heart.

I look forward to new materials from Kilmer-Purcell.

A very quick, easy read that will utterly surprise you.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars WISH I'D DONE THAT Oct. 31 2006
By SLEX - Published on Amazon.com
this book had me hooked from the beginning, and wishing i had had the courage/balls/lack of values to do many of the things that purcell claims he did. i use the word claims because in the aknowledgements/thanks intro of the beginning, he thanks james frey's(of a million little lies fame)wife, and goes on to say that he spent 2 weeks holed up at their long island home writing, leading me to wonder how much creative license he used. guilt by association-maybe. he does however put a disclaimer in the beginning labeling the book "truth in drag".

my hat is off to him for his attitude and sense of humor. anyone who is able to pull off alcoholic like drinking and functioning in a work environment that requires creativity, therefore actual thinking, has my respect. i was not able to do it.

he is inspiring in many ways, for gays and staights alike. he moved to the big city and did what he wanted. he was not intimidated, or at least, didn't let his fears stop him. he had his fun and then moved on.

i've lived in nyc almost my entire life and envy how he took advantage of it the way i never have.

i don't think i could be friends with someone like purcell. but as many problems as i have with his moral fiber, i'm jealous of him just the same.
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