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Confessions of a Left-Handed Man

An Artist's Memoir

Selgin, Peter

Publication Year: 2011

Confessions of a Left-Handed Man is a bold, unblushing journey down roads less traveled. Whether recounting his work driving a furniture delivery truck, his years as a caricaturist, his obsession with the Titanic that compelled him to complete seventy-five paintings of the ship (in sinking and nonsinking poses), or his daily life as a writer, from start to finish readers are treated to a vividly detailed, sometimes hilarious, often moving, but always memorable life.

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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pp. ix

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pp. xi

My thanks to Joe Parsons and Carl Klaus at University of Iowa Press for instigating this project and shepherding me through it. Versions of some essays herein appeared in the following journals and are reprinted here by...

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Dead to Rights: Confessions of a Caricaturist

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pp. 1-16

In kindergarten, when I presented her with crayon drawings of the Queen Mary and of the Empire State Building lit up like a Christmas tree at night, Mrs. Decker kissed my cheek, my first taste of artistic glory. By fifth...

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Dagos in Mayberry

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pp. 17-28

One rainy evening in New York City not long ago I attended a reading and panel discussion featuring Italian American authors. I went because I’m a writer, and also because— though it’s not something I’d given...

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Black Words on Yellow Paper

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pp. 29-38

I write this with a black Sharpie on yellow paper. Yellow is the color of lies. I had a friend named Victor who was a liar. Victor Szentgyorgyi, pronounced Saint George. He lived three houses down from us on Wooster Street, and..

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Straight Job

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pp. 39-46

Nowadays they call it the “gap year,” the year between high school graduation and college, when kids go off to experience the so-called real world. My generation, too, had a name for it. We called...

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pp. 47-52

Reidun initiated me. An AFS (American Field Service) student from Norway, she had a moon face framed with tight blond curls, with eyes so big and blue and forehead so high she looked like a giant...

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To Die of Italy

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pp. 53-64

Die of love or of loathsome disease, I wrote in my journal. Die of too much wine or sun or sex. Die of syphilis or suicide or old age. But die in Italy. It was the summer of Chernobyl. I sat at a seaside bar, sipping a digestivo, looking out over...

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Keeping Up with the Days

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pp. 65-75

Apparently, I could be quite a show-off. Once, at a college dorm party, I engaged the guests by dangling by one arm from the terrace railing. The dorm was in a high-rise building, the party on the...

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Estranged on a Train

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pp. 76-80

Ever since I was thirteen, when I first saw Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint in North by Northwest, I’d fantasized about having an affair aboard a train. So when, seven years later, I found myself alone in...

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Damian (The Green Jacket)

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pp. 81-88

He hadn’t had sex in two years, he said. Except for a run around the park now and then, he never exercised. Two weeks out of every month he lived on fruit juice and macadamia nuts, and that’s...

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pp. 89-92

The game couldn’t have been easier for Papa to play. All he did—all he had to do—was sit in his lawn chair with his New York Times and put in his order. I’d bring back steaks (rocks), beans (pebbles wet with...

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After the Planet Uranus

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pp. 93-102

Ourania was her name, Pronounced: ooh-ray-née-yah. Greek. Named after Uranus, third largest planet and seventh from the sun. An “ice giant,” having the coldest atmosphere of any planet in the...

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Confessions of a Left-Handed Man

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pp. 103-115

The dog that mauled me was a black Labrador retriever belonging to a woman I’ll call Miss Leachman, who owned a condominium in Westchester. In exchange for using her apartment, from which we commuted to New York City, my songwriting partner Mark...

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Painting Icebergs: A Titanic Obsession

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pp. 116-125

In the mid-1990s, Fred, my therapist, suggested that I do a self-portrait of myself as a naked child. The assignment was designed to liberate an innocent, joyful, spontaneous spirit from that of the anxious, striving, and...

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Dirty Books

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pp. 126-133

Books are filthy. I learned this when I volunteered to help reshelve them for a renovation project at the Mercantile Library in Manhattan. The library, which was founded by merchants (hence the name) and...

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My Locomotive God

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pp. 134-145

On Sunday mornings when I was a kid, when most fathers took their kids to church, mine took me to explore the beds of abandoned railroads. We’d start out very early in the morning, with the town’s...

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The Man from Stanboul

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pp. 146-157

I am the man from Stanboul. Yes, I cannot pee. Oh, I can squeeze out a few drops now and then. I can dribble; I can even trickle. Occasionally what passes for a stream drizzles down into...

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P. and I

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pp. 158-171

With hindsight, I saw it coming. As I watched her roll off in a friend’s SUV on that balmy Saturday morning in March (her belongings having preceded her the day before), I felt, under my tears, as if I’d been rehearsing the moment for months. Friends said...

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Alone: Two Types of Solitude

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pp. 172-181

My wife’s departure was sudden but not, in retrospect, unplanned or without warning. Her father died, and she had recently turned fifty. Later, friends would describe these as reasons....

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The Swimming Pool

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pp. 182-194

Normally I like to walk to the pool. It’s less than two miles, mostly through the woods, and I like seeing the sky snared by tree branches overhead while feeling hard pavement under my feet. But the...

E-ISBN-13: 9781609380571
E-ISBN-10: 1609380576
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609380564
Print-ISBN-10: 1609380568

Page Count: 244
Illustrations: N/A
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: first