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“A love song to a lost New York” (New York magazine) from novelist, essayist, and critic Frederic Tuten as he recalls his personal and artistic coming-of-age in 1950s New York City, a defining period that would set him on the course to becoming a writer.
Born in the Bronx to a Sicilian mother and Southern father, Frederic Tuten always dreamed of being an artist. Determined to trade his neighborhood streets for the romantic avenues of Paris, he learned to paint and draw, falling in love with the process of putting a brush to canvas and the feeling it gave him. At fifteen, he decided to leave high school and pursue the bohemian life he’d read about in books. But, before he could, he would receive an extraordinary education right in his own backyard.
“A stirring portrait…and a wonderfully raw story of city boy’s transformation into a writer” (Publishers Weekly), My Young Life reveals Tuten’s early formative years where he would discover the kind of life he wanted to lead. As he travels downtown for classes at the Art Students League, spends afternoons reading in Union Square, and discovers the vibrant scenes of downtown galleries and Lower East Side bars, Frederic finds himself a member of a new community of artists, gathering friends, influences—and many girlfriends—along the way.
Frederic Tuten has had a remarkable life, writing books, traveling around the world, acting in and creating films, and even conducting summer workshops with Paul Bowles in Tangiers. Spanning two decades and bringing us from his family’s kitchen table in the Bronx to the cafes of Greenwich Village and back again, My Young Life is an intimate and enchanting portrait of an artist’s coming-of-age, set against one of the most exciting creative periods of our time—“so thrilling…so precise in presenting a young man’s preoccupation and occupation” (Steve Martin).
Frederic Tuten is the author of five novels, including The Adventures of Mao on the Long March, Tintin in the New World: A Romance and a short story collection called Self Portraits: Fictions. Most recently, Simon & Schuster has published his memoir, My Young Life. He has written on art and film in such places as Artforum, The New York Times, Vogue. Tuten is the recipient of three Pushcart prizes, an O’Henry prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction, as well as the Award for Distinguished Writing from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Wayne Koestenbaum—poet, critic, artist, performer—has published nineteen books, including Camp Marmalade, Notes on Glaze, The Pink Trance Notebooks, My 1980s & Other Essays, Hotel Theory, Best-Selling Jewish Porn Films, Andy Warhol, Humiliation, Jackie Under My Skin, and The Queen’s Throat (a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist). His next book, a collection of essays, Figure It Out, will be published by Soft Skull in May 2020. He has exhibited his paintings in solo shows at White Columns (New York), 356 Mission (L.A.), and the University of Kentucky Art Museum. His first piano/vocal record, Lounge Act, was released by Ugly Duckling Presse Records in 2017; he has given musical performances at The Kitchen, REDCAT, Centre Pompidou, The Walker Art Center, The Artist’s Institute, The Poetry Project, and the Renaissance Society. He is a Distinguished Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and French at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City.