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The Beauty of Men Never Dies

An Autobiographical Novel

David Leddick

Publication Year: 2013

Buoyant and entertaining, this melding of memoir and fiction recounts with humor and candid observation a gay man's romances in his seventies, offering insight into the joys (and a few of the sorrows) of loving, living, and aging with grace, style, and a fearless sense of fun. Bouncing between Montevideo, New York, and Paris, the narrator reveals his adventurous life, his many lovers, his varied careers from dancer to advertising, and the upbeat outlook that sustains him as he pursues the elusive Fenil, a handsome Uruguayan policeman. David Leddick's short sketches, interspersed with memories, attitudes, and opinions drawn from the past, combine in a vivid tale of a life lived with panache at an age when most people think the adventure has already ended.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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The Beauty of Men Never Dies

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pp. 3-6

There was always thunder in the distance that summer. And an occasional flash of lightning on the edge of the world. Do you ever have the feeling that everything that has been routine isn’t routine anymore? That the foundations and rhythms are not necessarily worse or better, but different? ...

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Lovers

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pp. 7-8

I always thought I would have four major lovers. Four is my lucky number. And forty-four. And fourteen. Forty-four was the number of my football jersey, if you can imagine me playing football. I often see the building number 44 when I am traveling down a street in a taxi. Just jumps out at me. ...

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Role Models

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pp. 9-11

No, gay men as they age seem to remain forever attracted to the young. Their escaping youth? It’s not pretty. The sour ones who feel life disappointed them turn to alcohol to soften their sorrow. You see them everywhere. ...

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Fenil

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pp. 12-16

I am such a silly cunt. I think there is every possibility of my becoming interested in a twenty-one-year-old Uruguayan policeman. In my midseventies. How can I possibly do something that I find so embarrassing in my aging friends who are infatuated with much younger men? Much younger. ...

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A Dream

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pp. 17-18

I dreamed last night I was walking on a wide stretch of beach with Ricky, my childhood lover. We were lovers from when we were very small children through our teen years. He was always going to marry me. ...

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The Day I Knew Everything Wasn’t Going to Turn Out All Right

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pp. 19-28

My father died in the night shortly before my twelfth birthday. He had been ill with cancer for years, but I didn’t really expect him to die. No one I knew had. ...

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The Night I Definitely Knew Everything Wasn’t Going to Turn Out All Right

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pp. 20-21

In the high school that I attended it was the custom for students to go to the movies on Sunday night. Our only movie theater was in the town across the river—a theater that had been built for amateur theatricals before World War I and then adapted to show motion pictures. ...

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Falling in Love Again

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pp. 22-25

I think I am with someone totally inappropriate. If he was any younger he could be my great-grandchild, let alone grandchild. All I have to cling to is Jennie Jerome Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother. Her second husband was thirty or forty years younger than she was. ...

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Mr. P.

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pp. 26-28

Just so you don’t think that I am some kind of hopeless old fart with a hopeless crush on some Latin American fifty years my junior, I want you to know I actually do have a kind of boyfriend who just arrived out of the blue in Paris. ...

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My Injured Foot

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pp. 29-30

The summer when I was twelve I cut my ankle very badly. Only this morning as I was awakening did I realize that it was the same year that my father died. He died the previous winter, just two days before my twelfth birthday. I don’t need to go into how. We never got along. ...

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The Only Thing I’ve Ever Killed

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pp. 31-34

This is a chapter I’d really rather not write. But I must. Because I always think I have no secrets and will tell anyone anything if they ask. And this is something I would tell you if you ask. But it’s unlikely that you would think of it. ...

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What Can I Tell You about Grant Radke?

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pp. 35-38

I would have married Grant Radke. Of the men I have been involved with, which are not legion, he was the only one. And why? I think because he is so immersed in his business life you would never get his full attention, which is good. What doomed us was that I could never get enough attention. ...

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Old Songs

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pp. 39-42

As I fixed some breakfast for myself this morning (toast and tea, that’s all) and was singing some old song or other, I remembered that frequently people have said that I was singing what my subconscious was thinking. A few days ago, I had excavated “Be Careful, It’s My Heart,” a hit from the 1940s. ...

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Sex Incidents

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pp. 43-45

Fenil has a curious way of revealing things about his sex life, obviously for some reason, but a reason I find difficult to ascertain. Walking with him down Avenida 18 de Julio he told me again that he had worked as a teenage hustler and that the park on the avenue as you approach the university buildings was where he had picked up men and couples. ...

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Writing

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pp. 46-47

I think I just finished my twenty-first book. For some reason, I can never keep it quite straight in my head. And by finished, I mean published. I don’t really count a book unless you can go into a store and buy it. I have four novels and a how-to book written and ready to be published, so I guess I actually have finished twenty-five books. ...

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The Little Tree

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pp. 48-49

When I was twenty-eight I went through a bad patch when I couldn’t find any reason to go on living. I had thrown a career in advertising or publishing into the toilet and became a dancer. And now it was very clear that I would never become a star, and if you didn’t become a star your career was going to be over by thirty anyway. ...

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My Life in New York

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pp. 50-54

Being in my seventies is a new experience for me. I wonder what it’s like for other people. No one ever writes about it. I think people begin to live in their own past. I don’t. The life I am living now is as interesting, perhaps more so, than any other period of my life. ...

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My Credo

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pp. 55-64

When I am with someone, I belong to him. I don’t even find other men attractive. Not as long as my man is sleeping with me. I lock in on that one man. Whether he cheats on me is immaterial. That may be his grasp on our relationship. It’s not mine. ...

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The Story That Comes to You

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pp. 56-64

Today, while re-hanging the hammock in the garden, I had a strong flash of once having dreamed doing it. Are there layers of life going on that we are slipping back and forward to? There is a Chinese quotation about the man dreaming of being a butterfly. Or was he a butterfly dreaming of being a man? ...

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Paris

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pp. 65-66

I think I have left Paris definitively. I sold my apartment and brought a few things to Miami Beach. So it isn’t entirely over. And I still have a country house in the Loire Valley. But I first went to Paris almost fifty years ago, and although Paris hasn’t changed very much, I have. ...

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Men and Cats

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pp. 67-69

One of my lovers gave me a cat in the early 1970s. A kitten from his household. I called the cat Gideon. Soon after, I found another grown cat with a collar in the streets of Greenwich Village. I called the number on his collar tag and found he had belonged to a diner that had burned. ...

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My Little Conversation with God

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pp. 70-71

I’ve always felt that left to themselves people would finally grow up and do the right thing. But now after seventy years and more of hanging around, I’m beginning to have my doubts. I said to God, “They’re beginning to look awfully programmed to me. Women just have to have babies no matter what. ...

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(Some of the) Men in My Life

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pp. 72-79

My first real lover I met aboard ship in the Navy. He was an enlisted man. I was an officer, although we were close in age. The thing I remember most about him sexually was that although he had no wish to continue our homosexual affair after he left me to return to college, it was often he who wanted to explore sex activities. ...

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Voyeurama

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pp. 80-85

Has anyone ever done a book on masturbation fantasies? I’d love to read it. It’s something gay men rarely talk about. I guess the implicit understanding is that each of us is getting so much sex we don’t really have the time or need to masturbate. ...

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The Question

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pp. 86-88

I had a teacher in college who said of Hemingway short stories, “They are just an arc. But if you know the arc you know the entire circle.” I wonder. Here’s a fragment of a short story I wrote that seems important in the exploration of these later years. Perhaps this is an arc of an arc ...

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Montevideo

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pp. 89-90

When I mention that I live in Montevideo part of the year there is always much confusion. Do I mean Montenegro, near Croatia? Do I mean Monterrey in Mexico on the gulf ? No, I mean the capitol of Uruguay. Which just causes more confusion, as everyone knows that Uruguay and Paraguay exist but are not at all sure where they are. ...

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Men in Buenos Aires

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pp. 91-94

I just came back from Buenos Aires. There are lots of sexy men there, and sexy in a different way from the men in Montevideo, who are certainly very sexy, too. Here in Montevideo, men are sexy in a kind of animalistic, unaware way. ...

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A Trip

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pp. 95-98

Peter and I were planning a trip together. In the summer. He wanted to revisit places in Germany he had visited in the past. He loves the mountains. I had read in the New York Times that nobody was going to the Dalmatian Coast because of the economic recession and the hotels were standing empty. ...

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When I Was Very Small

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pp. 99-108

When I was very small I would sleep in the same bed with my grandmother in Holland, Michigan, and I would hear the night train blowing its whistle and feel very, very sad. ...

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Another Trip

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pp. 100-102

At Christmastime, I planned to go to Salvador, Bahia, with Fenil and his son. I had organized this several months in advance and found when I called the travel agent that his wife and he were actually far up the Amazon and his office was closed. ...

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On Bariloche, Argentina

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pp. 103-104

I went to Bariloche, high in the Andes in Argentina, to go fishing with Fenil and his brother. We rendezvoused in Buenos Aires, and then flew to Bariloche, which is a two-hour flight. It is not right next door to Buenos Aires. ...

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The Movie

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pp. 105-107

Phillipe Colmer called me this morning while I was meditating. How old can he be? He was a possibility as a lover for me many years ago. Which never happened. But he has always remained in touch. I remember my friend Babette Bodine saying to me at the time, “What Phillipe doesn’t understand is that when you have less to offer, you must do more.” ...

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A Theme of Death

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pp. 108-111

There is a theme of death in my life, beginning with my father’s death when I was twelve. Continuing with the loss of my nephew Nicky when I was probably twenty-four. Then Mischa Michelescu . . . the beautiful dark-eyed, dark-curly-haired Mischa Michelescu when I must have been approaching forty. ...

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Panama

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pp. 112-123

It was pissing down rain in Panama City. Rainy season. Who knew? No one ever goes to Panama from Miami. All you know about it is that middle-class Americans from the Midwest go there to retire in gated communities as much like Illinois as possible. Middle, middle, middle. ...

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They Let Me Cry Myself to Sleep

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pp. 124-125

I was in ballet class last night, and we were stretching on the floor as the class began. I was lying down pulling my straightened leg up toward my chest. I was holding my calf pulling it down and suddenly was very aware that it was warm and smooth and strong. My legs have always been one of my best features. ...

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Driving through the Stars

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pp. 126-127

If I thought dying was like rushing to meet a handsome lover, a lover who truly loves you as you do him, who will hold you in his arms and bring you to orgasm in the most thrilling manner, I’d be willing to die without a qualm. I think I will start thinking of death in that way. ...

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The Fall of Phaeton

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pp. 128-129

I have a bronze statue by Donald De Lue of the fall of Phaeton, who drove his sky-borne chariot too near the sun. Is that correct? I confuse this myth with the fall of Icarus, whose wings collapsed when the wax that held the feathers in place melted from the sun as he flew higher and higher. ...

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Last Notes on the Theme of Death

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pp. 130-131

Suddenly death seems omnipresent. It began with a friend of Peter’s coming to Montevideo to buy a house. He did so. Then installed himself in it and lay in bed drinking vodka until his family had to put him in a hospital, from which he walked out early one morning and threw himself in the river. ...

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My Cat and the Abbott

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pp. 132-141

Harry is a thin tiger cat whose eyes are somewhat sunken. As he purred and peered into my face, I thought, Harry is so old that he likes to lie upon my body and feel the fact that he is in contact with another living body. In that way, he knows that he is alive himself. ...

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Just Shut Up

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pp. 133-142

Sometimes I just want to tell myself, “Why don’t you just shut up?” I’ll hear myself at dinner or lunch or at a party dealing out all my ideas about how people waste their lives and pursue the wrong goals and what they should really be doing and how they should really be living, ...

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I Really Loved It

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pp. 134-143

On the night flight back from Montevideo, I looked out the window. The plane’s wing made a wide silvery sweep into the night. Above, there was a great white moon and the air was navy blue. Down below, the clouds of the Amazon jungle were like small whipped-cream mountaintops. ...

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My Nude

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pp. 135-144

I was photographed nude by Dimitris Yeros to illustrate a Cavafy poem for his new book. He posed me in an armchair in my living room. Behind me and around me perched three much younger men in the nude, each very handsome. My dancer’s feet extended into the foreground in their knobbiness. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780299292737
E-ISBN-10: 0299292738
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299292706
Print-ISBN-10: 0299292703

Page Count: 136
Publication Year: 2013

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