True Stories

TrueStoriesReviewed by Jerry Wheeler
April 2011
Out in Print: Queer Books Reviews

Felice Picano is a bona fide legend who has not only been around the block, he’s paved a few as well, so you’d expect a memoir of his to be name-droppingly dishy. And you’d be partially correct. But True Stories works best when it’s telling Picano’s stories, not those of Diana Vreeland, W. H. Auden or Tennessee Williams.

Don’t get me wrong—the chapters on the above celebrities are definitely worth reading and Picano surely has volumes more of them. But a life is not merely comprised of the famous people one encounters. Picano has included some of them—after all, it’s what readers expect in a memoir of a gay literary icon—but he uses them to augment some wonderful chapters starring not-so-well-known luminaries as well as a few childhood memories that will stick in your head longer than any of the profiles.

We meet fellow Violet Quill members Robert Ferro and Michael Grumley (and the ghost in their home) in a particularly engaging episode that details the couple’s lives and deaths as well as illustrates the somewhat prickly relationship Ferro and Picano had—or rather that Ferro had with everyone. He also introduces us to surrealist poet Charles Henri Ford and the difficulties Picano had with reprinting Ford’s 1933 novel The Young and Evil.

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