The author of the acclaimed City Poet returns with a searing memoir of life in 1980s New York City—a colorful and atmospheric tale of wild bohemians, glamorous celebrity, and complicated passions—with cameo appearances by Madonna, Robert Mapplethorpe, William Burroughs, and a host of others legendary artists.
Brad Gooch arrived in New York in the late 1970s, yearning for artistic and personal freedom. Smash Cut is his bold and intimate memoir of this exhilarating time and place. At its center is his love affair with film director Howard Brookner, pieced together from fragments of memory and fueled by a panoply of emotions, from blazing ecstasy to bleakest despair.
As both men try to reconcile love and fidelity with the irresistible desire to enjoy the freedom of the age, they live together and apart. Gooch works briefly as a model in Milan, then returns to the city and discovers his vocation as an artist. Brookner falls ill with a mysterious virus that soon has a terrifying name: AIDS. And the story, and life in the city, is suddenly overshadowed by this new demon plague that will ravage a generation and transform the creative world. Gooch charts the progress of Brookner through his illness, and writes unforgettably about endings: of a great talent, a passionate love affair, and an incandescent era.
Beautifully written, full of rich detail and poignant reflection, recalling a time and a place and group of friends with affection and clarity, Smash Cut is an extraordinary memoir and an exquisite account of an epoch.
Illustrated with 30 black-and-white photographs.
In this revealing memoir, Gooch (City Poet) reanimates the wild gay subculture in Manhattan during the 1970s and 1980s, which he calls the "golden age of promiscuity," when "everything was sex and poetry and La Boh me for suburban American kids arriving to create their identities, and do drugs, and get laid." The fine book contains many entertaining cameos by Andy Warhol, described as charming and flattering; William Burroughs, whose windowless and soundproofed residence, named the Bunker, was a meeting place for drug-fueled parties and dinners akin to "board meeting out of A Clockwork Orange"; Susan Sontag, who was rumored to have snuck into an all-male sex club disguised as a man to "participate in its democratic voyeurism"; and Madonna, who sent Gooch's longtime boyfriend, Howard Brookner, an early release of her album Like A Prayer when he was dying of AIDS. Gooch richly recollects his experiences as a model in Italy describing his time in Milan as "feeling blindfolded and spun about three times" and Paris, though the bulk of the narrative revolves around Gooch's decade-long relationship with Brookner, a filmmaker. Citing letters and journals, the writer touchingly reconstructs Gooch's loving and tumultuous life with Brookner, from their first date in 1978, to the summer they spent in an abandoned cottage on Fire Island, to their struggles with Brookner's heroin addiction and Gooch's resistance to monogamy, and finally Brookner's death at the age of 34. This worthwhile account is a poetic meditation on an exceptional relationship and a stirring moment in New York's cultural history. Photos.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Fully nuanced, emotionally raw
Above all true. How challenging the pre-AIDS, golden era was for us all, Manhattan held so much promise, this, we thought to ourselves, was just the beginning of our collective lives. Navigating a significant relationship without rules, sticking it, writing rules by ear is remarkable. And then loss, pain, wreckage. I couldn’t not read it.