Reading this collection of “true stories” is at the same time wonderful and sad. You can feel the time and the energy, the lives of so many artistry men, writers, actors, musicians, but you can also feel the sadness of a man who knew them all and now it has lot of memories but also lot of “in memory” feelings.
I’m true, I shed a tear or two reading about the more famous Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley, but also, at least to me, unknown Frank Diaz or Bobby Brown. I enjoyed the light story about W.H. Auden, that yes, died, but after he had the chance to enjoy life. There are so many different lives in this book, but all of them have one thing in common, Felice Picano.
This is not a book about the AIDS related losses (Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley), even if many of these stories have the horrific plague as deadly ax; some of these men succumbed before AIDS, due to the pain of living (Bobby Brown and Frank Diaz); some of them (W.H. Auden, Charles Henri Ford and Tennessee Williams), were of inspiration to young writers far into their old age. But strong, weak, longtime friends (Ricky Hersch and Jerry Blatt), lovers (James and Bob Lowe), business partner (Terry Helbing), relatives (Grandpa Ralph and Philip Picano) or simply acquaintances (Diana Vreeland), all of them were vivid enough, still are vivid enough, to dig a little spot in Felice Picano’s mind (and heart), and through this book he is letting them out once again, for people who didn’t know them to have the chance to know them a little bit now.
This is not a counting of dead people, it’s more like a Spoon River Anthology a la Picano style: each chapter brings alive a memory and with that memory a man, his dreams and loves, his art and his death. All of them spread through a New York City that changed with them, from the freedom of love of the ’60 and ’70, to the AIDS indulged fear of living of the ’80 and ’90. Through all the period, Felice Picano was friend, lover, witness and now recorder. It’s clear that for some of these stories, Felice Picano would have preferred to let them rest in peace, it’s clear that for him it’s still painful to remember, but it’s also clear that the author is willingly hurting himself to allow these men to come alive again; they are not ghosts, they are like shadows that Felice Picano can still see on the corner of the street, or hearing their voices calling him, or feeling their arms giving a loving embrace. Reading this book is like having a peep into Felice Picano’s heart.
Amazon: True Stories
Amazon Kindle: True Stories
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Chelsea Station Editions (March 1, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott