Ch as A Moveable Feast Hemingway was working on it and meant to publish But ven then it s important to note that he didn t see the final Electromyography for Experimentalists edits before publication But when reading Hemingway s swan song it drips with his genius And it s a memoir not a novel so that does make it different It would have been a different beast if it was a first draft novel Not that that there isn t merit in readingvery crumb Hemingway or Williams left behind it s just important to know that works are complicated than the words on the page Much of the genius of literature is hidden within what is left outThe novel dips into something I have written about before And that is the difference between being loved and being chosen They are not the same thing One can go their whole life without being chosen I wrote a play about this subject that I will turn into a novel in the next few years I wonder how many people feel they have never truly been loved or chosen been seen as they truly are How many think they have when they have not Is it better to not know the truth or to know As I continued on the novel had layers and touches of genius I found myself about page 230 feeling this story was about than the sum of its parts It seemed bigger than time and place and character I felt something reaching out from beyond something buried beneath the page that I didn t notice until later I recommend Forgetful of Their Sex: Female Sanctity and Society, ca. 500-1100 everyone continue reading because the story really comes together later It was poignant when muses were touched on How sometimes it s the alchemy with someonelse that is the magic sauce of creativity It raised some interesting uestions such as are we all screwed without our muses I suspect I might be a muse that never choose anyone lse but briefly I uite frankly found it draining it left me feeling mpty I prefer to be my own muse It was ually poignant when one character felt she was living under a curse of having once been great and with the burden of the belief that greatness was still possible Why do we do that If any one of us creates magic at any time it should be honored without xpectation that magic has to come This is the reason we revere stars that die young They go out in the prime of their magic while we are still under their spell And that s where we remain Jimi Hendrix Marilyn Monroe Kurt Cobain and James Dean would not be what they remain if they had gotten older and moved out of their magic It s not them we revere as much as the fact that they never moved out of their magic They are frozen in time and that s something Wicked Loving Lies everyone wants to stay forever in that time of their lives when they were most alive But no onever does instead most people get tired and disappointed and bored If Jimi and Marilyn had lived longer they would not be the mythical creatures they became Look at Elvis he s a legend but he died past the magical phase and so has some warts showing JFK died tragically at the height of his power Same with Jimi and Kurt What we find out later subtracts less if they died at the height of their magical powersThe novel touches on the difference between those that hide and those that keep working La heredera del mar even when their muse is gone Williams showed up until thend always trying to revive the ghost He was brave in a way that most aren t He had such a long way to fall with a lot of people watching close He had risen to such great heights and he wanted to go back there It s akin to gambling where you keep hoping the next one will be the winning hand It s better to be authentic and unread than always trying to be beautiful for someone lse Perhaps if Williams had let go of the need to be seen as great he might have written something great again before he died By the time I got to the last chapter my heart sank It s not like I didn t know it was coming but when it did by the time I got there it felt sad it had weight There are two moments of something that isn t said and something that is said that just got to me It made me ache I didn t xpect to feel so much After the last chapter the author tells the reader about how he came to know about Williams long time lover Frank Merlo and how he came to write this fictional novel He illuminates many things including how we all live in the shadow of someone Frank lived in Tennessee s shadow but so did Tennessee in Frank s shadow after Frank s death The author also hit on how struggling with fame can mirror the struggle of anonymity when one wants to be famous They are like different sides of the same coin The author said he used what was known and imagined the rest He was inspired by Oscar Wilde and what he said about killing the thing we love Leading Men by Christopher CastellaniThis a very dull attempt to make something of the relationship between Frank Merlo and his lover Tennesse Williams that lasted from 1947 to Merlo s death in 1963 The book opens in July of 1953 when Truman Capote throws a party in Portofino Italy There the motherdaughter duo BitteAnja Blongren become part of the story On the writer s note at the nd of the book the author states Ironically it was only after the ntirely fictional Anja ntered the narrative that the plot began to take shape However it does not The plot is a mess There are at least four timelines 1953 1963 Frank s death 1983 and the present Chapters run back and forth without any rhyme or reason The narration is a somewhat third person point of view which leaves the reader without a voice to concentrate on The plot is very boring it s as if nothing happens at all The characters themselves are one dimensional I never cared for any of themOnce again I was swayed by the New York Times to buy a book Once again I was very disappointed with their recommendation I strongly recommend you stay away from this book for that matter stay away from anything the New York Times recommends. We can't save ourselves Like The Master and The Hours Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth centur.
This one held no appeal to me I tried to get into it but gave up at the 20% point Castellani s first three novels captivated me thoroughly but Leading Men took all my motions and ratcheted them up a level I can t stop thinking about this book I fell in love with Frank Merlo and Anja Bloom with Tennesee William s Italian jet setting ways with the backdrop of 1950s Italy with all of it The book is beautifully written so much so that now that I have read it to feel wrapped up in the story I intend to read it again for the craft of it I want to understand how he turns those gorgeous phrases how he uses POV to unwrap the most delicate parts of the story how he colors the world so the reader feels like they are a part of it Bravo Christopher Castellani bravo Italy a booze soaked party thrown by Truman Capote a mysterious Swedish film star and the gorgeous love story between Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo what s not to adore about this novel From the first page I was swept into the rich and mesmerizing world of Castellani s LEADING MEN and Aramaic Bowl Spells: Jewish Babylonian Aramaic Bowls Volume One enjoyed it right up to its incredibly moving and satisfyingnding This ambitious novel has a rich cast of characters and whisks you from 1950s Italy in the 1950s to Manhattan in the 1960s to the theater world in Provincetown Massachusetts all while Xenophon And His World (Historia Einzelschriften) exploring themes of love fidelity and the challenges of forging one s own identity while in a partnership with a creative genius I loved it I kept waiting to feel something Trevor says For the first few pages I almost did but then as it went on and on I just wanted the guy to shut up and die already The whole thing was so self indulgentchokengistitikchokeng 223This had so much potential that my low rating is from a feeling of major disappointment than anythinglse It is an utter failure on almost Geography of the Gaze: Urban and Rural Vision in Early Modern Europe every level with major boredom being the mostgregious of its sins It isn t well written nough to ualify as literary fiction as do the two recent novels about Capote and his swans nor is it trashy gossipy fun Although I can semi see that the intention was to focus the attention on Merlo Williams is so consistently missing in action through most of this that one really gets no feel for the relationship itself until the final chapter For xample midway through there is a lengthy scene during Visconti s filming of Senso that takes place with an One Wild Weekend entourage including Anna Magnani at a fish restaurant I wasn t sure Williams wasven THERE until towards the Forgetful of Their Sex end he finally utters two lines Anyone who knows ANYTHING about the playwright knows he couldn tWOULDN T have been silent for so long The other major annoyance is that Castellani shoehorns in tidbits from other lives real and otherwise that add nothing the author John Horne Burns and HIS Italian lover Sandro make an appearance primarily so that Sandro s son can become a character in the OTHER major storyline about a fictional Swedish actress apparently from the author sndnote inspired by Liv Ullman There is a chapter detailing Burns death that MIGHT have made an interesting short story but just feels superfluous here Castellani Naturally Naughty Wicked Willing even manages to make Capote s infreuent cameos dull and lifeless something I would have thought well nigh impossible The actress s storyline revolves around Williams supposed last short play written in tribute to Merlo and the only copy of which he mails to the woman just prior to his death and which the actress attempts to stage in the penultimate chapter Castellani includes thentire mess of a manuscript here something he had written ten years F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby earlier according to thendnote but it bears NONE of the hallmarks of Williams later Walled (The Line, experimental work as the author himselfven admits Mindboggling in its ineptitudeI find it hard to believe ANY of the authors who have provided glowing blurbs for the back cover Cruel Attachments: The Ritual Rehab of Child Molesters in Germany even read the book it is so far afield from my ownxperience True story 1973 San Francisco as a 19 year old undergraduate drama student I scored a cheap balcony seat to Williams umpteenth revision to what was then called The Two Character Play As the intermission was nding I scurried up the stairs to my seat only to see the great man himself descending the staircase coming towards me I could tell he was obviously drunk andor stoned and as we passed he stumbled and fell right into me I grabbed and uprighted him and he leaned into me kissed me on the cheek and whispered Sorry baby THAT is a far interesting and indicative story about the playwright than ANYTHING you will find in this book What self centred bores Bailed out at 13 still felt ndless If I was a writer I would write historical fictionI m not saying it s asy but the raw material is already there for you You research the heck out of something or someone that already interests you then let your imagination run wild then go back and meticulously check all the available facts to make sure what you ve written COULD have happened What could be funBy all accounts Tennessee Williams was a larger than life person and as the author has pointed out in interviews already written about ad nauseam But how interesting to learn that virtually ALL of his acclaimed work was done when he was in a 15 year relationship with a man named Frank Merlo So Castellani turns that biography on it s head and makes his story about Frank What is it like to be the muse of the greatest playwright of the 20th centuryUnsurprisingly Merlo never had much of a career of his own So little is known about the man that Castellani must have had a difficult time making him interesting therefore he threw in an ntirely fictional woman girl actually Anya based on a real life young woman who was sleeping with the same Italian laborer as her mother Anya had him first Those are the kinds of juicy tidbits that keep you turning the pages Castellani puts in anothe. An Tempting Fate expansive yet intimate story of desire artistic ambition and fidelity set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s ItalyIn July of 1953 at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino Italy Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress Theirncounter will go on to alter all of their livesTen years later Frank revisits the tempestuous vents
R character than makes us sit up and take notice the ndlessly fascinating Truman Capote who was a contemporary of Tennessee Williams I never tire of reading about Truman and his flair for the dramatic I think Castellani misses an opportunity to make his novel interesting by doing with the characters of Capote and AnyaBy all accounts Frank Merlo was kind and caring whereas Williams was than a bit of a heel Williams was generous with money but One Giant Leap emotionally absent and physically absent when Merlo needed him most when he was dying of lung cancer at a very young age This was pre AIDSpidemic but one has to wonder if his cancer was AIDS relatedIn conclusion while I Apocalyptic Cartography enjoyed this novel thoroughly it was not without problems particularly in the last 3rd of the book It dragged a bit and could have been helped by some page turning gossip Capote was just sitting there waiting to be tapped and Anya was crafted to be too much of an old soul when she could have given life to the novel Beginning in 1953 some of the glitterati of the literati are the leading men of this novel The big names here are Tennessee Williams and the malicious gossip Truman Capote he makes only a few appearances The other two leading men are Williams partnerassistantnursemaid the good natured and reliable Frank Merlo and the lesser known author John Horne Burns As he lay dying in 1963 Merlo revisits a tumultuous summer with Williams and his role as bit player standing in the massive shadow of the renowned playwright It is during this summer that Williams and Merlo meet the soon to b My first perfect book of 2019 It s been awhile since I ve read a book I just simply could not put down Christopher Castellani weaves pure magic with Leading Men historical fiction about the romantic relationship between playwright Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo Their party also includes a fictitious actress named Anja Bloom the author John Horne Burns his lover Sandro and in present day Sandro s grandson and his boyfr Upon finishing this novel I felt full A kind of full that I wouldn t havexpected while reading the first half It snuck up on me I felt like I had been ating a ten course meal without realizing it While there is much about this novel that is universal the story stays suarely in its lane At its heart this novel is about how we forge relationships between lovers and parents and children and colleagues and friends The novel alternates between the 1950s and decades in the future My first impression was that it had the feel of a novel written in the 1950s Kudos to the author for that While it is fiction it is based on real people As with all biographies there are things left unknown Oftentimes fiction gets at the truth better than nonfiction The novel starts off with plans to attend a party in Italy thrown by Truman Capote The party guests we tag along with are real life playwright Tennessee Williams and his real life partner Frank Merlo Italy Iconic writers I m in The second chapter jumped forward about 50 years to the life and memories of another of those party guests As the reader moves back and forth between time periods layers are added that might not be there otherwise It felt like there were two protagonists one in the 1950s Frank and another Anja in the decades that followed Though the pulse that purrs throughout the novel belongs to Frank The story is about him than anyone lse Even when he s not there he s there I really liked the descriptions of Tennessee or Tenn as he was called working on his plays or cathedrals The author nails what it is like to live with a writer being in close proximity yet never being with them fully as the writer is somewhere A Bride for McCain elseven when two feet away Threaded throughout the novel are musings about gender aging sickness death love being rescued fame and living than one life and whether the latter Heart and Soul / Almost Heaven euates to freedom or just another chain There is a lot of lamenting about getting older but the novel also reminds us that notveryone gets the chance For much of the first half of the novel I felt at arms length from the characters One had the feeling that most of the inner dialog as the outer dialog was only what the character was willing to share It felt like they were aware of the readers presence I never felt like I looked any of the characters in the ye or through their yes Not until much later The first vivid character was one that was not ven there Frank s memory of his mother with all her storms and contradictions was riveting Her memory was baked into Frank s skin So in that way I guess she was there It helped me know Frank better Though I guess that is true of veryone to know how one feels about their parents and siblings tells a lot When Frank talked about his mother it was ngaging than anywhere lse up to that pointThis is when the novel really kicked in for me Up to this point I would say the novel had brains than heart not that it didn t have a heart it was just cerebral than heartfelt The novel hits on once dubbed creative geniuses trying desperately to reclaim god like stature This is specially poignant when works don t measure up For this an author is ither usually crucified or doesn t dare let the work be seen We do have this idea that someone that has written great things in the past has an obligation to show us all their work It does help shed light on an authors state of mind and their creative process but not A Love To Remember everything written by great writers is great Much of what any writer puts down never makes it onto a published page When we take something a writer didn t publish themselves and then publish it it s unfair to weigh itually against what they choose to publish during their lifetimeAn author s body of work is part what a writer decided to let the world see and part what they didn t There are Her Stolen Past (Family Reunions exceptions su. F that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time Anja now legendary film icon Anja Bloom lives as a recluse in the present day US until a young man connected to thevents of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams's final playWhat keeps two people together and what breaks them apart Can we save someone lse if.
Christopher Castellani is the son of Italian immigrants and a native of Wilmington Delaware He lives in Boston where he is the artistic director of Grub Street one of the country's leading independent creative writing centers He is the author of three novels All This Talk of Love 2013 a New York Times Editors' Choice A Kiss from Maddalena 2003 winner of the Massachusetts Book Awar