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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 centur. Upon finishing this novel I felt full A kind of full that I wouldn t have expected while reading the first half It snuck up on me I felt like I had been eating a ten course meal without realizing it While there is much about this novel that is universal the story stays suarely in its lane At its heart this novel is about how we forge relationships between lovers and parents and children and colleagues and friends The novel alternates between the 1950s and decades in the future My first impression was that it had the feel of a novel written in the 1950s Kudos to the author for that While it is fiction it is based on real people As with all biographies there are things left unknown Oftentimes fiction gets at the truth better than nonfiction The novel starts off with plans to attend a party in Italy thrown by Truman Capote The party guests we tag along with are real life playwright Tennessee Williams and his real life partner Frank Merlo Italy Iconic writers I m in The second chapter jumped forward about 50 years to the life and memories of another of those party guests As the reader moves back and forth between time periods layers are added that might not be there otherwise It felt like there were two protagonists one in the 1950s Frank and another Anja in the decades that followed Though the pulse that purrs throughout the novel belongs to Frank The story is about him than anyone else Even when he s not there he s there I really liked the descriptions of Tennessee or Tenn as he was called working on his plays or cathedrals The author nails what it is like to live with a writer being in close proximity yet never being with them fully as the writer is somewhere else even when two feet away Threaded throughout the novel are musings about gender aging sickness death love being rescued fame and living than one life and whether the latter euates to freedom or just another chain There is a lot of lamenting about getting older but the novel also reminds us that not everyone gets the chance For much of the first half of the novel I felt at arms length from the characters One had the feeling that most of the inner dialog as the outer dialog was only what the character was willing to share It felt like they were aware of the readers presence I never felt like I looked any of the characters in the eye or through their eyes Not until much later The first vivid character was one that was not even there Frank s memory of his mother with all her storms and contradictions was riveting Her memory was baked into Frank s skin So in that way I guess she was there It helped me know Frank better Though I guess that is true of everyone to know how one feels about their parents and siblings tells a lot When Frank talked about his mother it was engaging than anywhere else up to that pointThis is when the novel really kicked in for me Up to this point I would say the novel had brains than heart not that it didn t have a heart it was just cerebral than heartfelt The novel hits on once dubbed creative geniuses trying desperately to reclaim god like stature This is especially poignant when works don t measure up For this an author is either usually crucified or doesn t dare let the work be seen We do have this idea that someone that has written great things in the past has an obligation to show us all their work It does help shed light on an authors state of mind and their creative process but not everything written by great writers is great Much of what any writer puts down never makes it onto a published page When we take something a writer didn t publish themselves and then publish it it s unfair to weigh it eually against what they choose to publish during their lifetimeAn author s body of work is part what a writer decided to let the world see and part what they didn t There are exceptions such as A Moveable Feast Hemingway was working on it and meant to publish But even then it s important to note that he didn t see the final edits before publication But when reading Hemingway s swan song it drips with his genius And it s a memoir not a novel so that does make it different It would have been a different beast if it was a first draft novel Not that that there isn t merit in reading every crumb Hemingway or Williams left behind it s just important to know that works are complicated than the words on the page Much of the genius of literature is hidden within what is left outThe novel dips into something I have written about before And that is the difference between being loved and being chosen They are not the same thing One can go their whole life without being chosen I wrote a play about this subject that I will turn into a novel in the next few years I wonder how many people feel they have never truly been loved or chosen been seen as they truly are How many think they have when they have not Is it better to not know the truth or to know As I continued on the novel had layers and touches of genius I found myself about page 230 feeling this story was about than the sum of its parts It seemed bigger than time and place and character I felt something reaching out from beyond something buried beneath the page that I didn t notice until later I recommend everyone continue reading because the story really comes together later It was poignant when muses were touched on How sometimes it s the alchemy with someone else that is the magic sauce of creativity It raised some interesting uestions such as are we all screwed without our muses I suspect I might be a muse that never choose anyone else but briefly I uite frankly found it draining it left me feeling empty I prefer to be my own muse It was eually poignant when one character felt she was living under a curse of having once been great and with the burden of the belief that greatness was still possible Why do we do that If any one of us creates magic at any time it should be honored without expectation that magic has to come This is the reason we revere stars that die young They go out in the prime of their magic while we are still under their spell And that s where we remain Jimi Hendrix Marilyn Monroe Kurt Cobain and James Dean would not be what they remain if they had gotten older and moved out of their magic It s not them we revere as much as the fact that they never moved out of their magic They are frozen in time and that s something everyone wants to stay forever in that time of their lives when they were most alive But no one ever does instead most people get tired and disappointed and bored If Jimi and Marilyn had lived longer they would not be the mythical creatures they became Look at Elvis he s a legend but he died past the magical phase and so has some warts showing JFK died tragically at the height of his power Same with Jimi and Kurt What we find out later subtracts less if they died at the height of their magical powersThe novel touches on the difference between those that hide and those that keep working even when their muse is gone Williams showed up until the end always trying to revive the ghost He was brave in a way that most aren t He had such a long way to fall with a lot of people watching close He had risen to such great heights and he wanted to go back there It s akin to gambling where you keep hoping the next one will be the winning hand It s better to be authentic and unread than always trying to be beautiful for someone else Perhaps if Williams had let go of the need to be seen as great he might have written something great again before he died By the time I got to the last chapter my heart sank It s not like I didn t know it was coming but when it did by the time I got there it felt sad it had weight There are two moments of something that isn t said and something that is said that just got to me It made me ache I didn t expect to feel so much After the last chapter the author tells the reader about how he came to know about Williams long time lover Frank Merlo and how he came to write this fictional novel He illuminates many things including how we all live in the shadow of someone Frank lived in Tennessee s shadow but so did Tennessee in Frank s shadow after Frank s death The author also hit on how struggling with fame can mirror the struggle of anonymity when one wants to be famous They are like different sides of the same coin The author said he used what was known and imagined the rest He was inspired by Oscar Wilde and what he said about killing the thing we love

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Leading Men

An expansive yet intimate story of desire artistic ambition and fidelity set in the glamorous literary and film circles of 1950s ItalyIn 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 livesTen years later Frank revisits the tempestuous events o. This one held no appeal to me I tried to get into it but gave up at the 20% point

Christopher Castellani ↠ 7 Read & Download

F 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 US 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 playWhat keeps two people together and what breaks them apart Can we save someone else if. My first perfect book of 2019 It s been awhile since I ve read a book I just simply could not put down Christopher Castellani weaves pure magic with Leading Men historical fiction about the romantic relationship between playwright Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo Their party also includes a fictitious actress named Anja Bloom the author John Horne Burns his lover Sandro and in present day Sandro s grandson and his boyfriend who inspire Anja to mount Williams final one act in Provincetown I fell madly in love with Frank Merlo Castellani gets inside his head trying to figure out what makes this working class man tick It s Merlo s story we devour and crave in Leading Man Captivating and beautiful I can t stop thinking about it


10 thoughts on “Leading Men

  1. says:

    Beginning in 1953 some of the glitterati of the literati are the leading men of this novel The big names here are Tennessee Williams and the malicious gossip Truman Capote he makes only a few appearances The oth

  2. says:

    I kept waiting to feel something Trevor says For the first few pages I almost did but then as it went on and on

  3. says:

    This one held no appeal to me I tried to get into it but gave up at the 20% point

  4. says:

    My first perfect book of 2019 It's been awhile since I've read a book I just simply could not put down Christopher Castellani weaves pure magic with Leading Men historical fiction about the romantic relationship between playwright Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo Their party also includes a fictitious actress named Anja Bloom the author John Horne Burns his lover Sandro and in present day Sandro's grandson and his boyfriend who inspire

  5. says:

    What self centred bores Bailed out at 13 still felt endless

  6. says:

    Castellani's first three novels captivated me thoroughly but Leading Men took all my emotions and ratcheted them up a lev

  7. says:

    Upon finishing this novel I felt full A kind of full that I wouldn't have expected while reading the first half It snuck up on me I felt like I had been eating a ten course meal without realizing it While there is much about this n

  8. says:

    If I was a writer I would write historical fictionI’m not saying it’s easy but the raw material is already there for

  9. says:

    Italy a booze soaked party thrown by Truman Capote a mysterious Swedish film star and the gorgeous love story between Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo what's not to adore about this novel? From the first page I was swept into the rich and mesmerizing world of Castellani's LEADING MEN and enjoyed it right up to its incredibly moving and satisfying ending This ambitious novel has a rich cast of characters and w

  10. says:

    Leading Men by Christopher CastellaniThis a very dull attempt to make something of the relationship between Frank Merlo and his lover Tennesse