13 February 2007


the other day the topic on a message board I frequent was "Gay Books That Changed Your Life." at the end of my contribution was "the forgotten novels of Frederic Prokosch."

Tom -- my best friend in high school -- was passionate abt Prokosch's The Asiatics. so I had to read it. what discussions we two had abt that book. it was first publishd in 1935 when the Wisconsin-born author was in his 20s. the 1941 Readers Club addition had an intro by Carl Van Doren which began "Nowhere in Amerian literature is there another book quite like The Asiatics..." there must've been a paperback reprint in the late 50s. now I remember little abt the book except that it was sexy. in those days one read either Peyton Place (& we knew that novel so well we referrd to episodes by their page numbers) or the comic novels of Patrick Dennis for sex. D. H. Lawrence & Henry Miller then followd.

the other Prokosch novel that was important to me was The Missolonghi Manuscript. that was when I was still in the Byron orbit. looking at my bookshelves I see that I have the painter William Schock's copy of The Skies of Europe but like so many novels on my shelves I have yet to read it.

this morning I began the memoirs of Edward Field. in the third chapter he mentions the Oscar Williams anthology which includes portraits of the poets singling out "the beautiful ones, like Frederick Prokosch."

late in life Prokosch sufferd from revelations that he forgd literary pamphlets for profit & "inventd" parts of his memoirs. these days I doubt he has many readers. & I fear reading The Asiatics again for the same reason I hesitate rereading Catcher in the Rye. I respect its importance in my life at a certain moment.

the last time Prokosch came up was some years ago when fashion designer Shannon Rogers told me abt his long-ago romance with the novelist. he'd receivd a loving letter from him after a long silence. it was touching to look into Shannon's face & see there was still affection after so many years.

1 comment:

Carol said...

Gay books that changed my life, huh? Well, I don't know if this comment is even valid coming from a heterosexual woman, but I will tell you that Tom Spanbauer's book The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon affected me in a very profound way. It's hard to articulate how it changed my life, but I was altered after reading it - and all for the better.