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The Romanian: Story of an Obsession

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Winner of the 2004 Prix de Flore—one of France's most distinguished literary prizes—a wildly romantic, true-life love story History follows a trail of sputtering desire, often calling upon the delusions of lovers to generate the sparks. If it weren’t for us, the world would suffer from a dismal lack of stories," writes Bruce Benderson in this brutally candid memoir. What ast Winner of the 2004 Prix de Flore—one of France's most distinguished literary prizes—a wildly romantic, true-life love story History follows a trail of sputtering desire, often calling upon the delusions of lovers to generate the sparks. If it weren’t for us, the world would suffer from a dismal lack of stories," writes Bruce Benderson in this brutally candid memoir. What astonishes and intrigues is Benderson’s way of recounting, in the sweetest possible voice, things that are considered shocking,” wrote Le Monde. What’s so shocking? It’s not just Benderson’s job translating Céline Dion’s saccharine autobiography, which he admits is driving him mad; but his passion for an impoverished Romanian in �cheap club-kid platforms with dollar signs in his squinting eyes,” whom he meets while on a journalism assignment in Eastern Europe. Rather than retreat, Benderson absorbs everything he can about Romanian culture and discovers an uncanny similarity between his own obsession for the Romanian (named Romulus) and the disastrous love affair of King Carol II, the last king of Romania (1893-1953). Throughout, Benderson—�absolutely free of bitterness, nastiness, or any desire to protect himself,” wrote Le Monde—is sustained by little white codeine pills, a poetic self-awareness, a sense of humor, and an unwavering belief in the perfect romance, even as wild dogs chase him down Romanian streets.


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Winner of the 2004 Prix de Flore—one of France's most distinguished literary prizes—a wildly romantic, true-life love story History follows a trail of sputtering desire, often calling upon the delusions of lovers to generate the sparks. If it weren’t for us, the world would suffer from a dismal lack of stories," writes Bruce Benderson in this brutally candid memoir. What ast Winner of the 2004 Prix de Flore—one of France's most distinguished literary prizes—a wildly romantic, true-life love story History follows a trail of sputtering desire, often calling upon the delusions of lovers to generate the sparks. If it weren’t for us, the world would suffer from a dismal lack of stories," writes Bruce Benderson in this brutally candid memoir. What astonishes and intrigues is Benderson’s way of recounting, in the sweetest possible voice, things that are considered shocking,” wrote Le Monde. What’s so shocking? It’s not just Benderson’s job translating Céline Dion’s saccharine autobiography, which he admits is driving him mad; but his passion for an impoverished Romanian in �cheap club-kid platforms with dollar signs in his squinting eyes,” whom he meets while on a journalism assignment in Eastern Europe. Rather than retreat, Benderson absorbs everything he can about Romanian culture and discovers an uncanny similarity between his own obsession for the Romanian (named Romulus) and the disastrous love affair of King Carol II, the last king of Romania (1893-1953). Throughout, Benderson—�absolutely free of bitterness, nastiness, or any desire to protect himself,” wrote Le Monde—is sustained by little white codeine pills, a poetic self-awareness, a sense of humor, and an unwavering belief in the perfect romance, even as wild dogs chase him down Romanian streets.

30 review for The Romanian: Story of an Obsession

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sketchbook

    Famous liner on why many favor (het/hs) pross de touts: They leave after an hour. In fact, I knew a French film producer who'd say, c 8 am, "Cherie, you must go now. The maid will be here shortly." If you dont understand these 2 grafs, you're naif and know nothing of life. Herein, author Benderson, in his mid50s+, who has been around, arrives in Budapest to do an article on the underbelly sex trade, and, first night, meets a lad (Romulus, age 24) and instantly is smitten beyond belief. Romy is a Famous liner on why many favor (het/hs) pross de touts: They leave after an hour. In fact, I knew a French film producer who'd say, c 8 am, "Cherie, you must go now. The maid will be here shortly." If you dont understand these 2 grafs, you're naif and know nothing of life. Herein, author Benderson, in his mid50s+, who has been around, arrives in Budapest to do an article on the underbelly sex trade, and, first night, meets a lad (Romulus, age 24) and instantly is smitten beyond belief. Romy is allegedly het, but his willy is always stiff, even for gf who works as a whore for a wretched chink. "Welcome to Budapest!" Or Prague or Bucharest. Song: "Love for sale." Benderson comes across as an inexperienced (but nice?) jerk from Syracuse, NY, where his Jewish mutti is needy and dying. Over the next 8 mos, Romy does nothing but watch TV -- what do these two talk about?? -- while author translates a Celine Dion tasket of trash. I have no idea who Romy is...(probably a composite of 3 or 4 types)... and the author's smug story of his "obsession" goes nowhere. It is a bore. Remember the riveting story of Philip & Mildred by MOM ? You couldnt put it down ! Mildred was electrifying. (I just browsed again to confirm). Why did this 400 page novel win big French award, and so on?? Author stuffs his novel's hole, a big hole, with a history of Queen Marie of Romania (remember the Dot Parker couplet?), her son Prince Carol and his sssh! Jewish mistress Lupescu, which he brazenly but smoothly relates to Mutti (hence Euro award?), and then, OY !, adds more plot with Brancusi inserts. Hey, we're not done yet ! ~~ Amid bits of E Euro anti-sem we are confronted, minus humor or irony, with reminders of Communist vs Fascist vs Capitalist horreurs. "Calling Anita Loos for a rewrite!" This brings up another issue for me : author photos ...the more dreary the author, the bigger the photo. I see Joan Didion and wanna OD. Well, that's one example. Here, author has semi-hed shot with haunted eyes that say, "Sex in EEuro may be fun, but there's always stress."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Few projects can sound less promising than a 400-page chronicle of a pudgy middle-aged Jew's erotic obsession with a scraggly Romanian hustler, but Bruce Benderson has written a minor classic. What so easily might have been pretentious soft-core sociology intent on justifying its author and titillating its readers has been transformed into a tale that is by turn comically masochistic, depraved, psychologically lacerating and finally luminous. There's no redemptive arc, no gratuitous groveling or Few projects can sound less promising than a 400-page chronicle of a pudgy middle-aged Jew's erotic obsession with a scraggly Romanian hustler, but Bruce Benderson has written a minor classic. What so easily might have been pretentious soft-core sociology intent on justifying its author and titillating its readers has been transformed into a tale that is by turn comically masochistic, depraved, psychologically lacerating and finally luminous. There's no redemptive arc, no gratuitous groveling or ersatz wisdom. Benderson's honesty and deeply civilized, codeine-infused, depressed and decadent style lift this book echelons above the usual run of memoir.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rick Powell

    Benderson had to publish outside of the U.S. his brilliant, funny, wildly pitched account of his relationship with a straight Romanian rent boy. I've had my own run-ins with Romanians of various sexual orientations and every word of this account rings more than true. Steeped in both culture and history and also firmly committed to his own obsessions, this is the kind of gay writing apparently American homosexuals don't want to read any more, which is more than too bad, it's a great loss.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dimitri

    His penis slit down my throat like an eel into an inky pond OK, that's about as graphic as the gay sex gets. By this point I'd already double-checked whether the narrator was female or not. The autobiographical angle should've been mentioned on the jacket. Later on, he refers to Death in Venice in a time of illness. This book reads like its modern, Romania-set cousin. Perhaps with a hint of Lolita, since Romulus the Romanian feels more like a gay-for-pay hustler than a bisexual. what did you exp His penis slit down my throat like an eel into an inky pond OK, that's about as graphic as the gay sex gets. By this point I'd already double-checked whether the narrator was female or not. The autobiographical angle should've been mentioned on the jacket. Later on, he refers to Death in Venice in a time of illness. This book reads like its modern, Romania-set cousin. Perhaps with a hint of Lolita, since Romulus the Romanian feels more like a gay-for-pay hustler than a bisexual. what did you expect, Benderson ? Love ? His obsession is pathetic and infuriating. So I picked this based on the title and the jacket description: loving travelogue, parallels with Carol II of Romania and his Jewish mistress. There is that. The royal stories are heartfelt*. The impressions of Romania's cities and countryside are far less engaging, unless he starts extolling the Transylvanian peasant in the style of Panait Istrati. The ugly side of Romania ...is true, unfortunately, with child beggars and have-nots on minimum wages (Romulu's family) that contrast sharply with the conspicuous consumption of Bucarest's young elite. *The Playboy King: Carol II Of Romania by Paul D. Quinlan The Last Romantic: A Biography of Queen Marie of Roumania by Hannah Pakula

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ioana

    Also found here: I could not, for the life of me, like this story. I tried and tried, I even re-read some parts, but no. Maybe because it's such a depressing and dark story, if you ask me. Because Romulus is nothing more than a glorified thief and prostitute, the people Bruce meets through him are the same and the Bucharest he sees is gloomy and dejected, which is not true now and wasn't true back when Benderson wrote his book. Maybe because I never once considered that Romulus might have rea Also found here: I could not, for the life of me, like this story. I tried and tried, I even re-read some parts, but no. Maybe because it's such a depressing and dark story, if you ask me. Because Romulus is nothing more than a glorified thief and prostitute, the people Bruce meets through him are the same and the Bucharest he sees is gloomy and dejected, which is not true now and wasn't true back when Benderson wrote his book. Maybe because I never once considered that Romulus might have real feelings for Benderson or vice versa. It's an obsession and a wicked one too. Maybe because the correlations and comparisons that Benderson makes, between his relationship with Romulus and that of Carol the second and Elena Lupescu, never felt right for me. Maybe because I was never tempted of giving in and understanding his obsession with the young romanian or the way he managed to put him on a pedestal. Maybe I couldn't even begin to understand the petulant and teenager like attitude that the author had towards his mother and that annoyed the crap out of me. Maybe I just didn't like his writing or understood this book but bottom line: I did not like it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    David

    Liked: insight into and information on Central/Eastern Europe and its people, reminding me of my own trips to Budapest, Transylvania, and Bucharest. Didn't like: the author's gloomy masochism on one hand and his self-indulgence on the other. The tale of obsession seems to be with the author himself, which made this story go on and on. instead, the book could have made its points in half the pages. At points In several sections I wanted to yell, "ok... I get it, you've made your point, please move Liked: insight into and information on Central/Eastern Europe and its people, reminding me of my own trips to Budapest, Transylvania, and Bucharest. Didn't like: the author's gloomy masochism on one hand and his self-indulgence on the other. The tale of obsession seems to be with the author himself, which made this story go on and on. instead, the book could have made its points in half the pages. At points In several sections I wanted to yell, "ok... I get it, you've made your point, please move on."

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Corvine

    Found the regurgitated history/art material tedious and irrelevant, any linkage was tenuous. Overall the work was fantastic... but unfortunately not in a good way. The narrator is a fantasist imaging or manufacturing "dramatic" situations. If you block book a sex worker to the exclusion of all other clients it doesn't mean you are in a relationship. The narrator sometimes displays flash of realizing that he is self-deluded but continues to behave in the same illogical manner.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    The writing itself is more than fine, I just didn't like what the book is about-it wore on me. Somewhat affluent (not too cute)gay man from New York falls "in love" with Romanian hustler and I think we're supposed to sympathize with writer but I just felt sorry for the 21 year old Romanian.

  9. 4 out of 5

    The Sheila

    I had a hard time liking this book, mostly because Bruce Benderson seems way too impressed with his own wickedness. The historical bits and the bits with his mother are well done and interesting; the bits with Romulus (the titular Romanian) made me pretty deeply uncomfortable, if only because I felt like I was being involved in a threeway relationship that was none of my business and in which one of the parties was oblivious of my presence. (Bruce Benderson, I do not want to mess around with you I had a hard time liking this book, mostly because Bruce Benderson seems way too impressed with his own wickedness. The historical bits and the bits with his mother are well done and interesting; the bits with Romulus (the titular Romanian) made me pretty deeply uncomfortable, if only because I felt like I was being involved in a threeway relationship that was none of my business and in which one of the parties was oblivious of my presence. (Bruce Benderson, I do not want to mess around with you behind your boyfriend's back.)

  10. 5 out of 5

    Wooky

    I wanted a book on contemporary Romania and came across this--a memoir of one middle-aged white American's relationship/obsession with a young Romanian hustler. Reading it made me want to become friends with Bruce Benderson--he doesn't flinch away from examining anything that might be too revealing or taboo, there is a rare honesty there, and for that reason alone, I'd say this is a memoir very well worth reading.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Antonia Crane

    Benderson tangles Romanian History with his own as he develops a one-sided relationship with a Romanian hustler he picked up on the street. He has an unlikely affair with Romulus-a boy who is gay for pay. Benderson's descriptions of the setting of modern and archaic Bucharest in all of the wretched poverty and the pride and survival that is necessary to the proud gypsies is captivating. Benderson's phrasing is at times, stunning. He is also an admitted exploiter. I loved this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bill Arning

    A fascinating well described story The unhealthy relationships in this memoir are given a philosophical gravity due to the author's deep insights into his own obsessions. While if he were a friend I would want to slap him, few readers will not have lived through similar if less dramatic self destructive romances.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Maja

    I read a Croatian edition, though I couldn't find it on Goodreads.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tutu

    Seeing a quote of this book today made me remember reading it, I think probably 3 or 4 years ago. This is not an easy book to read, you have to be in a certain state but it’s worth the time you put into it( it’s pretty long – I read the Romanian translation and it’s almost 500 pages). I think a single word can sum up everything about this book: REAL. It’s real, it’s obsessive , it’s painful, it’s life……. for some of us. So if you like to read about happily ever after ( which I do), better skip t Seeing a quote of this book today made me remember reading it, I think probably 3 or 4 years ago. This is not an easy book to read, you have to be in a certain state but it’s worth the time you put into it( it’s pretty long – I read the Romanian translation and it’s almost 500 pages). I think a single word can sum up everything about this book: REAL. It’s real, it’s obsessive , it’s painful, it’s life……. for some of us. So if you like to read about happily ever after ( which I do), better skip this book. If you want a different perspective on a gay man's life this could be the book for you. Not that the author needed to be gay, the story of obsession is universal. This book really has an impact on the reader. Testimony to this is that I can still remember how it made me feel even after years of reading it. Not may books manage this. I actually can say I read books only 2 month ago that even if I enjoyed at the moment, can’t really remember much about. What I appreciated about this book was the breath of air it gives you at the end. You agonize throughout the whole book with the author, you want sometimes to escape him, to slap him, to make him see some sense. At the end I feel you are in some way rewarded. Because he offers us some perspective with a few pages written some years after his stay in Romania. It’s not a happy ending, it’s not the best outcome by any means, but it’s life and it goes on, one way or another . Another thing I’d like to mention is its take on Romania and Romanians. I am from Romania and it was very interesting to sit back and see it through the authors eyes. I guess I could have been easily offended but why bother. The truth is just that….the truth. I didn’t feel however that the author tried to paint a bad picture of Romania while reading it. They were just his experiences. Were they real? Probably. Can they happen nowadays? I’m sure of it. But that doesn’t mean that all Romanians are the same. It’s just a perspective, as are others. One thing that I strongly believe is that you only have one life and you’re in your right to live it however you see fit and doing what makes you happy. Without others telling you what to do, what is right for you or imposing their lifestyle or choices on you. Would I have acted like the author? No, at least I hope not. Is it frustrating to see him living his life like that? Yes. Do I think he was wrong? No, because, as I said, it’s his life. As long as he knows what he’s doing it will remain his choice and only his.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John

    A decent travel essay could probably be extracted from what is otherwise an atrocious memoir about a middle-aged gay man who claims to have been obsessed with a Romanian prostitute. I'm not familiar with the Prix de Flore, but am mystified as to how this book could even be nominated for a major literary prize. Where to begin with what is wrong here? The problems start with the author's voice, which is mostly humorless and embarrassingly vain. Bruce Benderson is way too proud of his transgressive A decent travel essay could probably be extracted from what is otherwise an atrocious memoir about a middle-aged gay man who claims to have been obsessed with a Romanian prostitute. I'm not familiar with the Prix de Flore, but am mystified as to how this book could even be nominated for a major literary prize. Where to begin with what is wrong here? The problems start with the author's voice, which is mostly humorless and embarrassingly vain. Bruce Benderson is way too proud of his transgressive behavior and this "memoir" feels contaminated by the apparent influence of his need to gather material for publication. Was he really THAT obsessed with Romulus (if that was indeed his really name...) or did he keep going back to Romania to gather more anecdotes for this book? It doesn't take long to figure out that the author's true obsession here is not with Romulus but with himself. Where the book completely goes off the rails is in the merciless descriptions of the author's apparently overbearing 96-year old mother. No shot is too cheap and the reader must awkwardly endure repeated digs at his mother's affinity for discount clothing. It is beyond pathetic how Benderson delights in his mother's ignorance of his bad behavior. Here is where I have to admit to jumping ship with only 100 pages left. There is value here in observing the author's lack of self-awareness, but it was just too irritating to go on. Is it possible that a good memoir by definition recounts extraordinary challenges endured/overcome at a time when the author's actions where not influenced by potential book profits?

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    "Don't you know sex is dangerous?" - Romulus, 24 year old Romanian prostitute. I found this memoir fascinating and beautifully written. I was incredibly frustrated with the author. Nearly screaming through the first half of the book- 'This isn't love, Bruce Benderson.' Knowing that the full title is 'A Story of Obsession' I read on. Nervously waiting for whatever events that finally cause the author to come to the realization that his paid relationship with a heterosexual Romanian could not poss "Don't you know sex is dangerous?" - Romulus, 24 year old Romanian prostitute. I found this memoir fascinating and beautifully written. I was incredibly frustrated with the author. Nearly screaming through the first half of the book- 'This isn't love, Bruce Benderson.' Knowing that the full title is 'A Story of Obsession' I read on. Nervously waiting for whatever events that finally cause the author to come to the realization that his paid relationship with a heterosexual Romanian could not possibly be love. Instead, by the end, maybe I'm wrong. A great and sometimes hilarious mix of cultures, history, language, art, sexuality, relationships AND Celine Dion! I found the story particularly timely as the author struggles with his idea of an ideal relationship and how it does not mesh with the world's increasingly accepting yet narrow idea of homosexuality. His mother just wants him to find a 'charismatic middle aged' man with a decent income and 'well-appointed living room'. Bruce Benderson- "Now that gay life has grown blander and duller, it seems more and more identical to the world of family values I thought I was escaping." "Everything attractive about Romulus stems from his heterosexuality, and of course, that's the very quality that prevents me from possessing him entirely." Unexciting Zombie Reference! "It turned me into a zombie with a fixed stare."

  17. 4 out of 5

    Samuel

    I felt troubled about this book - in, I guess, a good way. Member of the White Gay Literati and Friend of Camille Paglia Bruce Benderson was assigned to write a magazine story in Romania, where he met and fell in love with a hustler named Romulus. The book chronicles the initial meeting, numerous trips back to visit, a short period of time in which Benderson moved in with Romulus, and finally their bitter break-up. There is obviously plenty of room for there to be weird power issues in the relat I felt troubled about this book - in, I guess, a good way. Member of the White Gay Literati and Friend of Camille Paglia Bruce Benderson was assigned to write a magazine story in Romania, where he met and fell in love with a hustler named Romulus. The book chronicles the initial meeting, numerous trips back to visit, a short period of time in which Benderson moved in with Romulus, and finally their bitter break-up. There is obviously plenty of room for there to be weird power issues in the relationship - and there were - and it's unclear the extent to which Benderson assumes the reader will pick up on these (thereby acknowledging them himself, albeit somewhat mercurially), or if he just isn't interested in thinking too much in that direction. In any event it's important, from a certain anti-Western perspective, that much is made of Romulus not identifying as "gay" - and Benderson's related analysis of their affair. An interesting article, written by Benderson during a good period of their relationship, is here.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    I must say I really enjoyed this book. Yes, there was an experience of voyeurism in reading this book, especially in regards to homosexual desire and practices. But I what I especially appreciated from Benderson is his portrayal of his keen awareness that the only reason why he has access to a beautiful younger man is because of his position of privilege coming from the West. Benderson portrays his privileges as a product of the West, who now has access financially and legally to cross to underd I must say I really enjoyed this book. Yes, there was an experience of voyeurism in reading this book, especially in regards to homosexual desire and practices. But I what I especially appreciated from Benderson is his portrayal of his keen awareness that the only reason why he has access to a beautiful younger man is because of his position of privilege coming from the West. Benderson portrays his privileges as a product of the West, who now has access financially and legally to cross to underdeveloped countries and purchase concession, access to a beautiful body if not real affection. Such bordercrossing is ambiguous and does not easily give him all the satisfaction of being a hero, as so many expatriots naively think. Instead he portrays himself as ludicrously naive as well, caught up with the hopes of romantic love. I also really enjoyed his meditations on exactly what are the parameters that consitute homosexual desire.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Basamanowicz

    Finally made it out. The story in this book is one vastly outside my personal life experience, and, as is often the case in such reading endeavors, has resulted in exposure overload. It was difficult to get through as I had so much trouble relating to much of it, but the book ended up a sledgehammer, laying waste to heaping, black pockets of my ignorance. Another challenge/reward bundle comes in Benderson's supreme intellect and talent. What a writer! The four-star in lieu of five-star rating here Finally made it out. The story in this book is one vastly outside my personal life experience, and, as is often the case in such reading endeavors, has resulted in exposure overload. It was difficult to get through as I had so much trouble relating to much of it, but the book ended up a sledgehammer, laying waste to heaping, black pockets of my ignorance. Another challenge/reward bundle comes in Benderson's supreme intellect and talent. What a writer! The four-star in lieu of five-star rating here represents my own shortcomings. On many occasions, Benderson's thoughts journey beyond my grasp. My suspicion is that a rereading of The Romanian would result in a five-star rating. Lucky for me I own the book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Weston Ochse

    I picked up The Romanian at the bed and breakfast I stayed at in Valencia, Spain. It had a vivid cover, which initially drew me. On the heels of Middlesex, the subject matter was easily accessible. Basically, it's a (semi-autobiographical) docudrama about a male journalist who becomes emotionally and physically entangled with a Romanian street hustler. It's one of those odd books that I couldn't put down. The author, Bruce Benderson, won the French literary Priz de Flore, as the only American t I picked up The Romanian at the bed and breakfast I stayed at in Valencia, Spain. It had a vivid cover, which initially drew me. On the heels of Middlesex, the subject matter was easily accessible. Basically, it's a (semi-autobiographical) docudrama about a male journalist who becomes emotionally and physically entangled with a Romanian street hustler. It's one of those odd books that I couldn't put down. The author, Bruce Benderson, won the French literary Priz de Flore, as the only American to win this award designed to recognize youthful authors. It's a pretty frank book, but one that rings true. I highly recommend this one to those who enjoy reading about characters redefining themselves mid-life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bill Hsu

    It's easy to be distracted by Benderson's lusts, obsessions, and dubious life choices. (GR reviewers, you choose a Bruce Benderson book, and you're expecting nice people doing sensible things? Umm.) But the guy can write. On interactions with his mother:I can picture her so clearly right now, frail but enlivened by the favorite topic of me --- leaning forward on the very edge of her seat at the kitchen table so as not to miss a word, scrutinizing me with attentive, worried eyes, asking probing q It's easy to be distracted by Benderson's lusts, obsessions, and dubious life choices. (GR reviewers, you choose a Bruce Benderson book, and you're expecting nice people doing sensible things? Umm.) But the guy can write. On interactions with his mother:I can picture her so clearly right now, frail but enlivened by the favorite topic of me --- leaning forward on the very edge of her seat at the kitchen table so as not to miss a word, scrutinizing me with attentive, worried eyes, asking probing questions and desperately hoping for all the false answers; hoping I'll materialize by some magic into the prudent, cautious traveler I wasn't.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard Mayer

    Beautifully written, lyrical exploration of the gay obsession of the American writer for a Romanian male - fine portraits of Bucharest, the once-totalitarian capital with its expanses of tall concrete apartment blocks and the primal rural rhythms of the Romanian countryside - highly recommended for those interested in gay creative non-fiction, post-Communist Romania and the peasant remnants of a long lost European farming tradition from my perspective to someone who married a Romanian woman and Beautifully written, lyrical exploration of the gay obsession of the American writer for a Romanian male - fine portraits of Bucharest, the once-totalitarian capital with its expanses of tall concrete apartment blocks and the primal rural rhythms of the Romanian countryside - highly recommended for those interested in gay creative non-fiction, post-Communist Romania and the peasant remnants of a long lost European farming tradition from my perspective to someone who married a Romanian woman and journeyed into the heart of the country from Bucharest.....

  23. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    The first half of the memoir reminds me of a Hubert Selby Jr. novel. It was dark and gritty with almost too much realism. Nothing was overly graphic, but the events themselves were disturbing. Toward the middle it lightens up and the author/narrator becomes more self-reflective. I learned quite a lot about modern, pre-communist Romanian history from the constant references to them as a framework for what the author was experiencing. I finished the novel with the impression that the writer is ver The first half of the memoir reminds me of a Hubert Selby Jr. novel. It was dark and gritty with almost too much realism. Nothing was overly graphic, but the events themselves were disturbing. Toward the middle it lightens up and the author/narrator becomes more self-reflective. I learned quite a lot about modern, pre-communist Romanian history from the constant references to them as a framework for what the author was experiencing. I finished the novel with the impression that the writer is very talented, but he created his own suffering.

  24. 5 out of 5

    laura barrett

    Fabulous re-telling of author's obsession with a young Romanian street hustler. What makes this book so interesting is the way Bruce Benderson flawlessly weaves Romania's history into an alluring narrative of his own experiences in the country.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Larry Pierce

    Benderson plays with three themes in this quick read; lusty Romanian royals, his deeply ambivalent relation with his mother, and his personal obsession with a Romanian hustler. A bold effort to relate these themes to each other. I'm not certain that he was successful.

  26. 4 out of 5

    george ross

    http://lapetiteamericaine.wordpress.c... http://lapetiteamericaine.wordpress.c...

  27. 5 out of 5

    kwesi 章英狮

    Challenges: Book #167 for 2011 Book #87 for Off the Shelf! Challenges: Book #167 for 2011 Book #87 for Off the Shelf!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Meh.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Cameron Irving

    This came to me from a recommendation of a friend, whose judgment I respect. I suppose i was expecting something a little more challenging and I was surprised how easy it was to read. Perhaps no bad thing. The general gist of the book is that a wealthy, or at least well employed, older American man visits Romania on a writing job for a New York based publication. There he ' meets' a young rent boy, desperate for cash, and the two begin to forge a relationship. At first it's based on client- to-w This came to me from a recommendation of a friend, whose judgment I respect. I suppose i was expecting something a little more challenging and I was surprised how easy it was to read. Perhaps no bad thing. The general gist of the book is that a wealthy, or at least well employed, older American man visits Romania on a writing job for a New York based publication. There he ' meets' a young rent boy, desperate for cash, and the two begin to forge a relationship. At first it's based on client- to-worker basis, and although their relationship deepens, the American man is always paying the bills. It is a classic story of older chasing youth, of codependency at its finest and we wonder who really benefits ( if anyone ) out of this arrangement. We witness various escapades, including robbery, running from hotel rooms, dodging the authorities, cruising, repressive homophobia, cultural clashes, split ups and reunions. We observe the visceral depletion of the American, middled aged, overweight, with bad skin in contrast to the lithe body of the Romanian youth, whose own vanity is addressed towards the end of the book. One scene that sticks out for me, is where the American visits his elderly mother in New York and attending to her elderly ailments in pokey, stifling apartment while dreaming of the young Romanian lad thousands of miles away. It is a poignant image : the dutiful son, well passed his own prime looking after an infirm mother and focussing instead on an image of youth so far away, yet still somewhere, and somehow, within his reach. So, in the end, neither of the two get what they desire. Yes, the American gets his boy for a while, and the youth gets his money for a while. Neither of them make much progress emotionally together, theres no ending where the two live together in upstate New York , and they both get back to their own lives. The real imbalance is possibly one of class, and although the author Bruce Benderson has written a great deal how he hates the gentrification of his once beloved Times Sq in NYC, and how he is back to his boring publishing job. One wonders how the Romanian's life will pan out, once the looks are gone, and the clients go for the other lads instead. At least Benderson has the sales of the book, and all the acolytes that go with writing a book as he ages in an evermore Neoliberalised Manhattan. What the Romanian will take from the experience, I'm not sure. Possibly, the knowledge his story was immortalised in a book at least will do something for his vanity.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Manjulaa Devi

    As I turned every page, so did my emotions. This was from boredom to absolute shock to repulsion to amazement to acceptance and finally admiration, in that sequence. This is the first gay erotica that I have ever read and Bruce Benderson had delivered an excellent dose of his codeine-infused memoir cum travel writing in such a fashion that I believe will linger in my memories for a long long time to come. His openness in writing about his sexual tendencies or rather obsession entwined with the f As I turned every page, so did my emotions. This was from boredom to absolute shock to repulsion to amazement to acceptance and finally admiration, in that sequence. This is the first gay erotica that I have ever read and Bruce Benderson had delivered an excellent dose of his codeine-infused memoir cum travel writing in such a fashion that I believe will linger in my memories for a long long time to come. His openness in writing about his sexual tendencies or rather obsession entwined with the fascination for lust-filled historical Romania became enthralling as the story progressed. Beautiful prose and a beautiful work - I would say my awe with this book is an equivalent of Benderson’s awe of Brancusi that he so much wrote about. This is an absolute literary delight.

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