Authors Edmund White & Christopher Bram read from their new books at the Free Library of Philadelphia on a rainy Philly night February 16 to a crowd of around 100 delighted fans.
White may be a venerable man of gay letters but White was as rakish as ever reading some explicit passages from his new book “Jack Holmes and His Friends” laced with salty humor. He was moving with slight difficulty and announced that he is still recovering from a stroke last year, Bram read from his history of post WWII gay authors Eminent Outlaws highlighting his passages from the book about White’s emergence as one of the 1st generation out gay writers with large appeal.
White was the affable literary giant in the lobby, posing for pictures and trading laughs with readers. Eminent Outlaws is getting the most buzz even in the straight press, not only because it’s a page-turner, because it reflects a pivotal time in the gay civil rights movement. Bram conceived the book when Sam Wasson, who was writing a book about the movie of Truman Capote’s “Breakfast At Tiffany’s“ contacted Bram about gay writers in the 50s and Wasson asked “’This is great stuff, where can I read it.’ And I realized no such book existed. So I started working on Outlaws,“ Bram said in a phone interview from New York last week.
Bram’s concise bios of two dozen writers weaves together the 50 years of influential gay lit from every angle. “Comes from all those years of reading Edmund Wilson,“ Bram said. “He was great at doing these short literary biographies; I hadn’t realized how much I’d learned from him until I was working on this book.”
During the reading, White asked Bram if he had to edit the book and Bram said he pretty much wrote it how he envisioned, but made discoveries all the way. He said even though the book encompasses dozens of literary biographies, he never got hung up on the forward narrative.
Bram said the reaction to the book has been great. “I have lots of people who read my fiction, telling me that it feels the same with this book. I haven’t had anybody saying, why did you do this book instead of another novel; they seem happy with it.” One of the most poignant is his portrait of Vidal, the remaining semi-closeted enigma from the original 50s vanguard. ”Rereading his essays are amazing and they really hold up. I also discovered rereading him that I’ve been unconsciously quoting him for years.” Bram said.
Since Gods and Monsters was such a movie success, would the author consider a screen treatment of Outlaws? Although some in the industry have expressed interest, he doubts it will make it to the screen. “It would be great, but it would be a huge cast. Maybe a couple of treads that follow individual authors might work. Gore would be good of course. And James Baldwin’s story is so compelling, it would make a great film.”