We are thrilled to be welcoming authors David Thomson and Christopher Castellani to BookShop West Portal for what will, no doubt, be a fascinating conversation. David is the author of more than 20 books on film and television and was called by the Atlantic Monthly "probably the greatest living film critic and historian." His latest book is Sleeping with Strangers: How the Movies Shaped Desire, a look at how films have impacted us culturally, from our social and sexual mores up through the #MeToo movement of today. Christopher Castellani is the author of Leading Men. To quote Publisher's Weekly, "Castellani's spectacular fourth novel imagines the relationships between Tennessee Williams, his lover Frank Merlo, and a young actress named Anja Bloom, whom they take under their wing." Set largely in the 50s and 60s, Christopher's tale delves with both well-researched fact and a healthy dose of fiction into both Hollywood and the theatrical world of the past. We've got an expert on story-telling, and an expert story-teller. This conversation is going to be great!
by Christopher Castellani
In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.
Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams's final play.
What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can't save ourselves? Like The Master and The Hours,Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives. In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness, Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth-century.
Christopher Castellani is the author of three previous novels (the trilogy A Kiss from Maddalena, The Saint of Lost Things, and All This Talk of Love) andThe Art of Perspective, a book of essays on the craft of fiction. He is the son of Italian immigrants, a Guggenheim fellow, and the artistic director of GrubStreet, one of the country's leading creative writing centers. He lives in Boston.
Sleeping With Strangers
by David Thomson
From the celebrated film critic and author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film, an original, seductive account of sexuality in the movies and of how actors and actresses on screen have fed our desire.
Film can make us want things we can not have. But, while sometimes rapturous, the interaction of onscreen beauty and private desire speaks to a crisis in American culture, one that pits delusions of male supremacy against feminist awakening and the spirit of gay resistance. Combining criticism, his encyclopedic knowledge of film history, and memoir, David Thomson examines how film has found the fault lines in traditional masculinity and helped to point the way past it toward a more nuanced understanding of what it means to be a person desiring others. Ranging from advertising to pornography, Rudolph Valentino to Moonlight, Rock Hudson to Call Me By Your Name, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant toPhantom Thread, Thomson shows us the art and the artists we love under a new light. He illuminates the way in which film as art, entertainment, and business has been a polite cover for a kind of erotic séance. And he makes us see how the way we watch our movies is a kind of training for how we try to live.
DAVID THOMSON is the author of The Biographical Dictionary of Film, Moments That Made the Movies, and the pioneering novel Suspects, which was peopled with characters from film.