Monday, May 14, 2018

Now I'm Here, new novel, new website

Now I’m Here
a novel by Jim Provenzano

ISBN-13: 978-0998126265
Release date: September 19, 2018

“Here is a novel of such sweep and breadth that to call it simply a love story is inadequate, even while the love of David and Joshua at the heart of the book resonates so deeply that I could not stop reading their tale. Provenzano is one of our masters; like his character Joshua he is a kind of musician. The instrument he plays on is the heart, and the story of these men rings true for all of us who lived through these years.”  
Jim Grimsley, author of Dream Boy and Winter Birds
"Jim Provenzano has again created characters that a reader can’t help but fall in love with. This is an epic story, a tale as captivating as a favorite piece of music.”  
Mark Abramson, author of Minnesota Boy
“A haunting page turner;  Provenzano fearlessly navigates, with wit, unflinching candor and a detective’s tenacity, that deepest mystery: first love, with all its euphoria, madness and wreckage. Gorgeously written, Now I’m Here stands alongside the best of Edmund White and Andrew Holleran. I could spend a year with each sentence.” 
Adam Tendler, concert pianist, author of 88x50: A Memoir of Sexual Discovery, Modern Music and The United States of America

So, yes! My sixth novel is available for pre-order on Amazon.com in ebook and paperback editions. It will be in bookstores in September.

And to jazz up this little celebration, I got a new website: https://www.jimprovenzano.com/
Visit, scroll around and let me know what you think.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Wrestling with Angels, Laughing at Demons

Randy Harrison and Francesca Faridany
 in Angels in America at Berkeley Rep.
photo: Kevin Berne
It would be great if the fact that two major productions of Tony Kushner's two-part drama, Angels in America, could bracket our nation and hold it together. But unfortunately, it reflects the comic chaos then and now, and our confused queries about democracy, death, and justice. On its 25th anniversary, the work continues to inspire, and reminds me of the many people I've lost in the past quarter century.


The story of the play's development is as long and fascinating as the work itself. Here's a Slate oral history of the work's development, which moves from San Francisco to New York, as did my journeys to see the play. A brief quote:
Stephen Spinella with Tony Kushner
in the 1993 Broadway production
of Angels in America

"Tony Kushner’s Angels in America premiered in the tiny Eureka Theatre in San Francisco’s Mission District. Within two years it had won the Pulitzer Prize and begun a New York run that would dominate the Tony Awards two years in a row, revitalize the non-musical play on Broadway, and change the way gay lives were represented in pop culture. Both parts of Angels, Millennium Approaches and Perestroika, put gay men at the center of American politics, history, and mythology at a time when they were marginalized by the culture at large and dying in waves."

Saturday, February 24, 2018

And the Theatre Kids shall lead them; exposing NRA-whore politicians with Truth

Defying the latest round of rightwing-fed 'crisis actor' accusations, teenage survivors of the latest school shooting have proven defiant to the hypocritical inaction of GOP politicians who, instead of enacting swift gun control efforts, veer to the reverse, all the while enacting inept antiquated Band-aids by slapping up In God We Trust on school walls, and in Iowa, banning LGBT books in school libraries.

With the chilling 'conversation' and Q & As with weasels like Trump, Rubio and Florida Governor Scott offering nothing in the way of change, it's going to be a hard road. But the outspoken kids of these town halls may have finally found a breaking point.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Love, Longing and Loss; catching up too late



The mark of a good writer is prolificity, that is, the ability to get it all written. Fortunately, I've been doing that, elsewhere, leaving the obligatory blogging to wait.

A single theme escapes me, other than the toll of author departures. With so many tumultuous events and lossesand I'm not talking about the Dow it's time to roll on after a brief review. I have to write something to get the December Christmas tree off my front page.

When discussing literature, it's pretty much turned into a toll of loss. Well, one could do that by consulting a list of all recent writer deaths, but let's not. There is hope.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holiday Homofun, and Ho Ho Hos

Ah, the holidays. They're almost over, but I feel the need to share the fun as the year winds down to the last few days. Among my new favorites are Christmas book trees, and the guilty pleasure of cheesy straight Hallmark TV movies that always have a happy ending, but require a subsequent dose of 'gay apparel' as a tonic.

First up; alternative trees made of books. They stack nicely, inspire more book gift-giving, and are catastrophe-proof if you've got cats.

My own recent tree proved amusingly autobiographical. You can tell a lot about a person by what they read. Actually, I chose books for their colorful topics and shape and size.

You can see hundreds of tree book pictures online, mostly as libraries. The trick to keep large ones from collapsing is to stack them carefully, in a circular pattern, obviously, but with a large object inside to build the books around it. 

More tips are HERE. Of course, decorated trees precede the Christian holiday, but they've been good at appropriating pagan rites for centuries. Today, (December 21) is Winter Solstice, the original reason for the seasonal festivity.

But let's not get into a theological debate. What of holiday themes in books? Certainly some classics endure, from Charles Dickens "A Christmas Carol" to Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory."

And for your guilty pleasure, the bafflingly long list of Hallmark holiday TV movies can be depended on for a cinematic consistency: vaguely Canadian accents, a charmingly trite story line, a hunky male lead, and somewhat hunky male nemesis, and a clear thematic repetition of the viewpoint that life in the big city will damage a very white gal's appreciation of the holidays, and only a visit (or being trapped in) a quaint Thomas Kinkaide-esque village or cabin will revive her sense of giving and love, resulting in true romance via a quaint blizzard.

Friday, December 1, 2017

AIDS Literature and its Continued Importance

Does anyone still read AIDS fiction, and what stories remain relevant today? Of course my answers are "Yes," and "All of them." But given the state of things these days, with greater crises upstaging the epidemic, which is still a major health concern worldwide, the need for new stories remains in question for some.

While ruminating on this as a form of commemoration on World AIDS Day, I'll link lists of some of the great works of AIDS fiction, and borrow from other published lists. 

Why? Because while three of my novels include aspects of the AIDS crisis, I'm working on another novel that focuses on its effect on gay men facing AIDS in a different setting. It's too large a life experience to wrap up in just one novel.

Most early and bestselling fiction works about AIDS focus on urban gay men in the 1980s and afterward. It's understandable, given the time and number of cases in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. (book links are for reference; do buy from independent bookstores whenever possible!)

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Days of the Dead: Making Good Art in Bad Times

Puerto Rico hurricane devastation: New York Times
How can a fiction writer continue to work in a made-up world when so many bad things are happening in the real one? Why should we even bother? This has been on my mind as I somehow manage to work on my next novel, despite the daily bad news.

First, a list of the bad things.

The mass shootings in Las Vegas terrorized our nation. But what's more frightening is how quickly people and the media fell into the trope of 'the lone gunman' because he was rich and white. 


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Literary Voices: an appreciation of Mark Merlis and William M Hoffman


Have you ever read a novel only to have the effect of it come back to you like a boomerang that knocks you in the back of the head until the tears spring out?

Such is the case with Mark Merlis' An Arrow's Flight. When I read it almost 20 years ago, I thought it was smart and brilliant. Since the author's death on August 15, I decided to reread it and find copies of his other three novels.

William Johnson wrote this remembrance for Lambda Literary Review. "Merlis’ writing cannily explored the emotional and sexual lives of gay men, in all of their messy, nuanced, and wondrous splendor."

In writing for The Advocate, author Christopher Bram wrote, "His books share a family resemblance: fine literary texture, a keen sense of gay history, a moral complexity worthy of Henry James, and strong sexuality."

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Meeting Sam Shepard in a Dream; lofty ambitions and gutted fish


   I met Sam Shepard in a dream last night, my last one before waking, on an open cement flat construction site with poles sticking up. It had been turned into a movie set where I was working on as Assistant to Something. 
   A crew man drilled a hinge on a doorway and it fell over.
   ‘One door, two people,” I muttered as if it were a common safety saying. 
   Oddly, actors rehearsed while hammers were banged on set pieces. 
    The director, finished arguing with someone, huffed off the construction site. Someone called ‘Break,’ and people sat where they were, took food out of lunch boxes.
   One man at the edge of the site/set seemed sad, without a lunch, in a red flannel shirt, rumpled jeans and boots, his craggy face looking disappointed, sitting with his back against a scaffold. I recognized him.
   “Hey, Sam,” I said, “Can I have a hug?”
   “Not a good idea,” he scowled, looked away.
   I knew he was dead, but figured he’d be bothered by my reminding him.
   “You know, thirty years ago, I directed a few of your plays.”
   He didn’t seem to care which ones.
   "I liked the monologues in ‘Action,’ I said. “They worked real good. Once the actor muffed his lines, but got around to it, made the point.”
   “I hate when that happens,” he muttered, looking around, realizing it wasn’t his set, his movie or his play. He didn't seem hungry, but glanced at someone else eating.
   “Hey, can I ask you–“
   Another crew man got up, tripping over Sam’s legs.
   “What was that?” he looked back.
   “That’s Sam. He’s dead.”
   “Right.” 
   The crew man seemed like he was trying to laugh, couldn’t see what he tripped on.
   “Well, better get,” Sam said, and leaped off the edge of the cement flooring, which had become a few floors higher above ground. He just stepped off and disappeared into the wind.
   The other crew man stopped, about the walk away, wavered. “But what did he–”
   “You saw him?” I asked.
   “Saw what?” he seemed confused by himself.
   “Never mind.”

     * * *

I think Sam would have appreciated that dream, since it felt like a scene from one of his plays. People feeling out of place, confused, stunned by the loss of their purpose, or knowing a dark secret, were part of his artistic style. 

Shepard's death has been well documented, and one of his first collaborators, Patti Smith, had some touching remembrances of the Pultizer Prize-winning playwright and understated film actor. Author Don Shewey wrote about being Shepard's biographer years ago, and how the playwright was in a way his alter-ego.

Actually, those plays I mentioned in my dream to dead Sam were preceded by my small production of poems and prose pieces from his first collection, Hawk Moon.  As a sophomore at Kent State University's Theatre Department, I enlisted some actors and musicians to join me in performing most of the collection, with live musical interludes of Rolling Stones songs and other music.