Cameron grew up in Pompton Plains, New Jersey, and in London, England. He spent two years attending the progressive American School in London, where he discovered the joys of reading, and began writing stories, poems, and plays. Cameron graduated from Hamilton College in New York State in 1982 with a B.A. in English literature.
He sold his first short story to The New Yorker in 1983, and published ten more stories in that magazine during the next few years. This exposure facilitated the publication of his first book, a collection of stories titled One Way or Another, published by Harper & Row in 1986. One Way or Another was awarded a special citation by the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Book of Fiction. In 1988, Cameron was hired by Adam Moss to write a serial novel for the just-launched magazine, 7 Days. This serial, which was written and published a chapter a week, became Leap Year, a comic novel of life and love in New York City in the twilight of the 1980s. It was published in 1989 by Harper & Row, which also published a second collection of stories, Far-flung, in 1991.
Beginning in 1990, Cameron stopped writing short fiction and turned his attention toward novels. His second novel, The Weekend, was published in 1994 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux, which also published a third novel, Andorra, in 1997, and a fourth, The City of Your Final Destination, in May 2002. His work has been translated into a dozen languages.
A film version of The Weekend, written and directed by Brian Skeet and starring Gena Rowlands and Brooke Shields, was released in 2000. Ovie Entertainment has optioned the film rights to Andorra and plans to produce a film with a screenplay written by Cameron; Merchant Ivory Productions produced a film version of The City of Your Final Destination, directed by James Ivory from a screenplay written by Ruth Prawer Jhabvala.
Cameron counts among his strongest influences the novels of British women writers such as Rose Macaulay, Barbara Pym, Penelope Mortimer, and Elizabeth Taylor. He admires these writers for their elegant and accomplished use of language and their penetrating and sensitive exploration of personal life. He also admires the writing of the late William Maxwell for its natural elegance and deeply felt humanity. Shirley Hazzard, James Salter, and Denton Welch are also revered.
After arriving in New York City in 1982, Cameron worked for a year in the subsidiary rights department of St. Martin’s Press. Upon realizing he did not want to pursue a career in publishing, he began doing administrative work for non-profit organizations. From 1983 to 1988, he worked for the Trust for Public Land, a land-conservation organization, and from 1990 to 1998 he worked for Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a legal organization that protects and extends the civil rights of gay men, lesbians, and people with HIV/AIDS. In 1987 he taught writing at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, and from 1990–1996 he taught in the MFA program at Columbia University's Graduate School of the Arts. From 1998 to 2005 he taught in Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program. He taught at Yale University in the fall of 2005.
In March 2005 his first play, A Thing of the Past, was read at Lincoln Center Theater by a cast including Marian Seldes and Estelle Parsons.
A new novel, Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in September 2007, now a movie by Italian director Roberto Faenza, starring Marcia Gay Harden, Lucy Liu with Stephen Lang, Peter Gallagher, Ellen Burstyn, Deborah Ann Woll, Toby Regbo, US Theatrical Release Date: October 05, 2012
Talk about a perfect performance - and making it look easy! Cameron never slips, but neither does the book feel too polished or fussed over. Andorra is a relaxed, confident, mature performance, and a daring one: Cameron's Andorra both is and isn't the real Andorra; and the book concludes with a genuine and haunting surprise. Hollywood should be calling. Or better yet, a European director with a very fine eye. --David Pratt
Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You is one of the only true books ever written about youth—that bittersweet moment when our longings are more than we can be. It helps that every sentence is exquisitely calibrated. --Michael Downing
Peter Cameron, 1999, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123745)
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)
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You by Peter Cameron
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Picador; First Edition edition (April 28, 2009)
Amazon: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
Amazon Kindle: Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the story of James Sveck, a sophisticated, vulnerable young man with a deep appreciation for the world and no idea how to live in it. James is eighteen, the child of divorced parents living in Manhattan. Articulate, sensitive, and cynical, he rejects all of the assumptions that govern the adult world around him--including the expectation that he will go to college in the fall. he would prefer to move to an old house in a small town somewhere in the Midwest. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You takes place over a few broiling days in the summer of 2003 as James confides in his sympathetic grandmother, stymies his canny therapist, deplores his pretentious sister, and devises a fake online identity in order to pursue his crush on a much older coworker. Nothing turns out how he'd expected.
"Possibly one of the all-time great New York books, not to mention an archly comic gem" (Peter Gadol, LA Weekly), Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You is the insightful, powerfully moving story of a young man questioning his times, his family, his world, and himself.
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
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