on June 20, 2002
Don't be frightened by the university press imprint: this solid biography isn't a bit stodgy--it's compulsively readable and full of great celebrity and sexual dish. Readers of Continual Lessons, the Wescott diaries Rosco co-edited, will be delighted at the opportunity to find out more about the life and experiences of this important gay figure. Fans of George Platt Lynes's male nudes will be interested to find out more about the photographer's complicated life and some of the men who appeared in his photos. Those who've never heard of Wescott are in for a treat. Glenway Wescott led a fascinating life: he was a beautiful boy wonder in 20s Paris, and later divided his time between literary and gay Manhattan and the idyllic country estate of his wealthy sister-in-law. He and lover Monroe Wheeler had a relationship that spanned seven decades; he shared his lover for years with Lynes; he had lots of lovers on the side; and he had a long involvement with the Kinsey Institute, including having sex on camera for the archives. He also had a famous case of writer's block, but came back stunningly twice: once with a popular bestseller, once with a gem of a novella, The Pilgrim Hawk (rediscovered regularly, most recently by Susan Sontag in The New Yorker). Wescott was a famous raconteur, and this entertaining book includes great memories and anecdotes in his own words--Don't miss the story of how Edmund Wilson dropped a shrimp in Edith Sitwell's hair-do at a cocktail party (p. 155).
on April 11, 2002
Anyone infatuated as an undergraduate or an adult with Hemingway, Stein, Fitzgerald and the other heavyweights of the literary and artistic circles of the first half of the 20th century will frolic through Wescott's biography with glee. It's like peeking through a keyhole into the private lives of E.M. Forster, Christopher Isherwood, Marianne Moore, Jean Cocteau and others through the filter of Wescott's own unusual life and literary struggles. More importantly, it gives access to Wescott -- a masterful writer who has become a best-kept secret and deserves to be reinstated in the context of his talent and his time. The post-WWII Wescott (who didn't write for publication) is revealed here publicly for the first and, perhaps only, time. A very interesting biography that spans some of the most important decades in American literature.