Just after actor Tab Hunter died, I decided to read his autobiography called Tab Hunter Confidential, written by Tab Hunter and Eddie Muller. Tab was a closeted gay movie star from the 50’s. The book talks about his childhood, the movies he made as well as being a gay actor in Hollywood in a time where you could not come out. He also talked about his relationship with Anthony Perkins, who is best known for playing Norman Bates in Alfred Hitchcock’s masters Psycho. I highly recommend Tab Hunter Confidential. The book feels like he is chatting with the reader, telling us about working with Natalie Wood, Gwen Verdon and his favorite leading lady, Divine.
For the longest time, from my teens to my 40’s, I basically read fiction. I wanted to escape to other worlds. I occasionally read non-fiction until I finally read Angela’s Ashes by Frank Mc Court. I remember it was very popular for a long time and I was curious, so I finally read it. I absolutely loved it. It basically told the story of growing up poor in Ireland. His father was an alcoholic who drank most of the money he earned and did not provide well for his family. It was a great book but I took a break after the 3rd kid died. Even though there are some grim moments, there are some funny moments like when he threw up in his grandmother’s
I have also read some good biographies over the years and there are two I want to recommend. The first is a book about another Frank, Frank O’Hara. The book is City Poet by Brad Gooch and it talks about O’Hara, who moved to NYC and pretty much became the city’s poetry ambassador in the 50’s and 60’s. O’Hara became the
A memoir that also takes place in New York is Patti Smith’s brilliant Just Kids. This book details her relationship with the famed photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. For a time they were lovers until Mapplethorpe came to terms with his sexuality. They used to hang out at Warhol’s beloved Max’s Kansas City and lived for a time at the Chelsea Hotel. I usually don’t cry when I read books but Smith’s last chapter about Mapplethorpe’ s memorial had me in tears. I do have a copy of M Train, her second memoir and I want to read that eventually.
If you want a memoir that will make you laugh, I suggest Running With Scissors by
Other memoirs I recommend are The Glass Castle, Under the Tuscan Sun ( although there is no gay bus of Italy like in the film) and Mississippi Sissy by Kevin Sessums. I feel bad that I came late to memoirs and biographies but I’m glad for the ones I have read.