AN UNTOLD STORY: Few people are aware that Tennessee Williams had a longtime partner, let alone that Frank Merlo was a working class bisexual man from New Jersey; it was during the period of their relationship that Williams wrote all of his truly great plays.
BOOK CLUB APPEAL: Leading Men touches on themes that will interest reading groups, from co-dependence and same-sex relationships to the nature of “greatness” in artists.
A HUGE BREAKTHROUGH: Castellani earlier wrote a trilogy of well-received novels about a working-class Italian-American immigrant family, but this new novel is a big step forward.
HITS A SWEET SPOT BETWEEN LITERARY AND COMMERCIAL: Both sophisticated and accessible, Leading Men is the kind of fiction that cuts across a wide swath of readers.
BELOVED IN THE LITERARY COMMUNITY: As the Artistic Director of Grub Street, one of the country’s leading creative writing centers, Castellani has won the admiration of a wide range of writers, editors, publishers and agents, many of whom will lend support to his novel.
Praise for Leading Men:
“Vividly reimagines the relationship between Williams and Frank Merlo, and offers intricate thoughts about the nature of fidelity, the artistic impulse, and estrangement…[Castellani’s] scenes glitter…This book is a kind of poem in praise of pleasure. Its author knows a great deal about life; better, he knows how to express what he knows. But this is an alert, serious, sweeping novel. To hold it in your hands is like holding, to crib a line from Castellani, a front-row opera ticket.”—The New York Times
“Spectacular…Castellani’s novel hits the trifecta of being moving, beautifully written, and a bona fide page-turner. This is a wonderful examination of artists and the people who love them and change their work in large and imperceptible ways.”—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“I read Christopher Castellani’s Leading Men in one quiet, sunny, rapt afternoon, and spent hours afterwards just stunned from having been immersed in such a tender, psychologically devastating, and gorgeously precise novel. An extraordinary book.”—Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies and Florida
“Leading Men is glorious, a meditation on the ravages of fame, an investigation into the private lives of public artists, and one of the most moving love stories I’ve read in ages. It’s hard to imagine better company on the page than Tennessee Williams and those who loved and loathed him. By bringing to life these literary visionaries, Christopher Castellani proves himself their eminently worthy heir.”—Anthony Marra, author of The Tsar of Love and Techno
“With extraordinary artistry and grace, Christopher Castellani interweaves history and invention to show us both the depths great artists are driven to and the love that draws them back. I know of few books that give such a moving account of the indispensable value of genius and its intolerable human cost. This is a novel of rare insight and beauty, and Castellani is a writer of brilliant gifts.”—Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
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