Gambone was born in Wakefield, Massachusetts in 1948 and earned a B.A. from Harvard College and an M.A. from the Episcopal Divinity School. His writing has covered many genres, including novels and short stories, personal reminiscence, non-fiction, and scholarly essays, as well as book reviews and interviews.
He has published 4 book-length works, beginning with a collection of short stories titled The Language We Use Up Here in 1991. It was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and a review in Harvard Magazine called it "quietly inspired." Other short stories have appeared in a wide variety of magazines and anthologies. Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers appeared in 1999. Publisher's Weekly said his "carefully probing interviews provide insight into the working methods and aesthetic, personal and social concerns of a varied group" and that his "knowledge of each writer’s work and his sensitivity to the craft is impressive." The Montreal Mirror called it "a rich collective portrait of some of the most important and interesting gay writers of the last three decades." Among the 21 included were Joseph Hansen, Edmund White, and David Leavitt.
His first novel, Beijing: A Novel, appeared in 2003. Multicultural Review noted that "What makes the book of special interest to readers of multicultural literature is its portrayal of an honest effort to see, understand, and become emotionally involved in another culture without being patronizing or distant."
Another collection of non-fiction pieces based on interviews appeared in 2010 under the title Travels in a Gay Nation: Portraits of LGBTQ Americans. Andrew Holleran wrote that it was "like going to dinner with people you’d love to know but don’t" and called Phil Gambone "the perfect stand-in for the reader: impressively prepared, sympathetic, and smart." He drew his 44 subjects from every corner of the gay community, including, for example, composer Jennifer Higdon, Star Trek's George Takei, and anti-war activist Mandy Carter.
Gambone has also published essays about China and Chinese literature in such publications as the Boston Globe and the New York Times. He has also contributed essays to textbooks about both ancient and modern China.
His many awards include artist’s fellowships granted by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the MacDowell Colony, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, as well as a research fellowship from the Massachusetts Historical Society. Best American Short Stories, 1989 (Houghton Mifflin, 1990) recognized his work as well.
Gambone has taught writing at the University of Massachusetts and Boston College. He has also taught in the expository writing program at Harvard. He teaches in the writing program at the Harvard Extension School, which has twice awarded him Distinguished Teaching Citations.
Gambone served 27 years on the faculty at The Park School in Brookline, Massachusetts, and currently teaches English at Boston University Academy. He lives in Boston, Massachusetts.
Philip Gambone, 1990, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123793)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)
Beijing: A Novel by Philip Gambone
Hardcover: 312 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (April 10, 2003)
Amazon: Beijing: A Novel
Escaping his ghosts, AIDS widower David Masiello accepts a one-year position at a Western medical clinic in Beijing. Lonely but excited, he sets out to explore the city—both its bustling street life and its clandestine gay subculture.
David chronicles his adventures in China as he wrestles with cultural dislocation, loneliness, and sexual and spiritual longing. After a series of both comic and poignant encounters with gay Chinese men, he meets Bosheng, a handsome young artist. Though the attraction is strong, a difficult courtship ensues, during which Bosheng returns to his ancestral village to marry the girl his parents have chosen for him. Eventually, and quite unexpectedly, David and Bosheng reconnect and share an idyllic spring together. As the year ends, David must decide whether to say goodbye or face the uncertainties of a long-distance relationship.
Gambone’s novel is peopled with a host of wonderfully memorable characters: Owen, David’s forthright best friend back home; Auntie Chen, the clinic’s office mom, who wants to fix David up with a girlfriend; Stewart, David’s Beijing roommate, a graduate student doing research on Peking opera; Jiantao and Guoyang, two lovers who lecture David on the fleeting quality of American romance; and Tyson, the Australian doctor with a Chinese girlfriend, who hopes to teach David that love doesn’t need any explanations or justifications.
Something Inside: Conversations With Gay Fiction Writers by Philip Gambone
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (May 10, 1999)
Amazon: Something Inside: Conversations With Gay Fiction Writers
In the last twenty years, gay literature has earned a place at the American and British literary tables, spawning its own constellation of important writers and winning a dedicated audience. No one though, until Philip Gambone, has attempted to offer a collective portrait of our most important gay writers. This collection of interviews attempts just that, and is notable both for the depth of Gambone's probing conversations and for the sheer range of important authors included. Virtually every prominent gay author writing in English today is here, from David Leavitt and Edmund White to Michael Cunningham, Andrew Holleran, and Paul Monette.
Allen Barnett Christopher Bram Peter Cameron Bernard Cooper Dennis Cooper Michael Cunningham Gary Glickman Brad Gooch Joseph Hansen Scott Heim Andrew Holleran Alan Hollinghurst Brian Keith Jackson David Leavitt Michael Lowenthal Paul Monette Michael Nava David Plante John Preston Lev Raphael Edmund White
"There were a lot of books that came out in the 1950s which would oftentimes end with one or both of the characters committing suicide. There was a feeling of: "See how sick we are?" and "Won't you please forgive us?" And the character's suicide was a kind of expiatory gesture. Interestingly, those books were always addressed to a hypothetical heterosexual reader; they were kind of presented as a lawyer's brief to defend homosexuality." Edmund White
"There is a larger question, I think, too of wanting to write a book in which the homosexuality of the narrator was an absolute given, that not apology or extenuation was made, and that he wrote or thought naturally through his sexuality as a heterosexual writer would through his. I didn't want to have to keep clearing my throat and explaining; it was just a given." Alan Hollinghurst
Finally, for the first time, a collective portrait of our most compelling and seminal gay writers, drawn from the author's deep, probing conversations with virtually every prominent gay author writing in English today, including David Leavitt, Edmund White, Christopher Bram, Michael Cunningham, Andrew Holleran, Paul Monette, and Alan Hollinghurst, among others.
The Language We Use up Here and Other Stories (Plume Fiction) by Philip Gambone
Paperback: 272 pages
Publisher: Plume (May 1, 1992)
Amazon: The Language We Use up Here and Other Stories
Most of the characters in this impressive first collection are in their 30s, struggling with long-term relationships and trying to deal with the long, uninterrupted stretch of adulthood ahead of them. Though the characters are also gay, these stories aren't about the fact of homosexuality or coming out, but rather about the unique problems these men face as they approach midlife without benefit of institutions available to others, such as marriage. In the title story, set like the rest in Boston, Robert, a white, "good-intentioned" liberal, makes a desperate but "politically correct" effort to free Bunkie, an inexperienced, black 20-year-old newly arrived from Alabama, of the influence of his flamboyant uncle. Similarly, in "Initiating Him," middle-aged Marty befriends a confused younger man, recalling his own initiation into a world of others like himself: "I wanted to dump the entire cornucopia of our history and culture onto his lap." "Saying the Truth" subtly probes an overpowering subject, AIDS, with plenty of emotion, none of it cheap or sentimental. With these well-drawn and well-chosen lives, Gambone helps move fiction about gays out from under the limiting rubric of "gay literature." As with all good writing, these stories focus on the particular as a way to explore the universal. Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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