Thursday, April 10, 2014

Book Review: “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir”

Kenneth Walsh’s first book, “Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful? A Memoir," is his coming out story and coming of age in the 1980’s and 90’s. It is a fascinating bumpy ride from Detroit to Phoenix to Los Angeles to Washington, DC to finally his sought after magical dream residence and career in New York City.  Kenneth is a NYC blogger that I have been following shortly after he began his blog, Kenneth in the (212) in 2005.

These kind of true stories I find interesting. Not only did I come out much later in life, it took me a long time to figure out my sexual nature. I also came out in the early 2000’s when it was much more accepted. Kenny knew his life was destined to be different from watching “Family Affair” reruns as a young kid. There was a glamorous city life available for someone willing to make a journey.
“As I grew up, I continued to plot my move to the Big Apple. Family Affair reruns gave way to Woody Allen movies (all those glamorous neurotics in those huge apartments!). The Goodbye Girl (even struggling creative types could do it!), and Desperately Seeking Susan (that’s where New Wavers like me live!).”
And what a journey he tells: several young dysfunctional relationships, a porn star roommate, mistaken celebrity doppelgängers, a morbid curiosity for unsolved crime stories, and penchant for New Wave music and style.

In the 80’s and 90’s it was still a hard time for a young guy to come out to himself, family and friends. There still were not a lot of positive portrays in the media. The AIDS crisis fueled fear, prejudice and suspicion both in the gay community and in society in general.

Kenneth describes one of the traumatic events I can relate to when he was 9 years old. Kate Jackson was on The Tonight Show to promote her new film “Making Love.” It’s “a love story about a married man who has an affair…with another man.” The audience loudly boos when Kate says it deals with homosexuality.
“What had started as somewhat typical “embarrassing” teenage moments—when parents’ friends would ask if you “like girls yet” or “have a girlfriend”—turned into crippling anxiety after seeing that hostile reaction to homosexuality on Johnny Carson. Instead of brushing off such inquiries, which plague plenty of socially awkward straight kids as well, I began to avoid all situations that could lead down this path. My self-doubt and increasing sense of worthlessness—the whole nation would turn hostile and boo me if they knew who I really was—became who I was.”
Kenneth’s memoir is a reflection of gay culture of the time, 1980s through 2000s. It is all there: critical intelligence and aesthetic insight, cattiness, melodrama, poignant self-awareness, adoration of female icons, and obsession with mothers. I look forward to future works by Kenneth Walsh.

Bonus: YouTube video of Kate Jackson on The Tonight Show (1982). At the 8 minute mark is where she talks about the movie.

1 comment:

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Thank you for this thoughtful review!


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