For its first week of sales, Travels With Casey is a New York Times hardcover bestseller! The book comes in at #22 on the extended nonfiction list. Thanks to everyone who helped to make that happen!
I’m on the road this week with dog-friendly events in Tempe, Seattle, and Portland. Hope to see you there!
Travels With Casey hit stores last Tuesday. In addition to People, the book has been reviewed and recommended by Time, BarkPost, the Boston Globe, The Frisky, Flavorwire, Open Letters Monthly, The Banner, and others.
To check out my fun interview (with the dogs) on HuffPost Live, click here.
The book doesn’t come out for a few weeks, but it’s getting some nice early attention and reviews. In addition to USA Today‘s piece about the book in its summer books preview, both Kirkus and Publishers Weekly have published positive reviews. Kirkus writes that my “sprightly, entertaining travelogue should find a delighted readership.” Publisher’s Weekly writes that “comparisons to John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley are obvious, but this is an entirely different and equally rewarding piece of work that expands with each page without losing its narrative thread or the reader’s interest.”
In addition, a number of writers–including Dean Koontz, AJ Jacobs, Susan Cheever, and David Sheff–have offered glowing blurbs about the book. The book-lovers over at Goodreads are also giving “Travels With Casey” nice early reviews.
For more information, and to see an interactive map of my route and photos/videos from the journey, check out www.travelswithcasey.com.
My publisher, Simon & Schuster, has just posted a cool interactive map of my journey, complete with text and pictures from a dozen of the many places I visited with Casey. If you want to check it out, go to TravelsWithCasey.com and click on “Take the Trip.”
My upcoming book, Travels With Casey, was featured in the USA Today summer books preview. You can read that piece here.
For more information about the book, including early reviews, videos of my journey, and my tour schedule, check out TravelsWithCasey.com.
My latest New York Times Magazine piece is about bulldogs. For some background on the piece, including some entertaining video I took of Handsome Dan (Yale’s bulldog mascot), click here.
My latest New York Times Magazine piece, about my old friend Michael Glatze, went online Thursday and was published in the magazine Sunday. It was the most difficult profile I’ve ever written.
When I was a teenager, my mother told me that my grandfather, a prominent French economist and writer who had struggled with manic depression, had died. “He was hit by a car,” she said. I suspected she was lying, and I was right. I learned the truth soon enough: My grandfather, Jean Denizet, had jumped out of the window of a mental hospital. My grandmother—concerned with appearances, and unwilling to have French high society think whatever they might about a suicide—had apparently concocted the alternate story and asked her children to pass it on.
It wasn’t the first time a Denizet had leaped out the window of a building. My mother’s younger brother, the only male among her eight siblings, had committed suicide that way in his early 30s (on the day before Christmas). Then, three years ago, one of my mother’s sisters intentionally overdosed on medications.
For another sister’s death, I traveled to Paris for the funeral. My grandmother and my mother’s six remaining sisters—most of whom have battled lifelong depression—attended. It was hard not to look around and wonder: Who would be next? And could it be me?
As the only one of my many cousins to be raised outside of France, I have in many ways been insulated against the difficulties of my aristocratic French family (more on that a bit further down). But I am connected by genetics, and, as I’ve grown older and struggled with addiction and depression, I’ve sometimes worried that the legacy of my mother’s family might enslave me, too.
After the ceremony, we traveled to the small French village of Crepy to bury my mother’s sister next to her brother and her father. My dozens of cousins and I—we range in age from 18 to 35, with most in our 20s—spent much of the trip huddled in conversation. What had really happened to our parents? How had they become so ill? And what would become of us? What had become of us? Were we genetically programmed to suffer as they had?
I was reminded of all of this recently when I listened to the latest CD from my talented, charming, and endlessly kind French cousin, Martin Mey. The best song is “Live,” which he sings in English and which is his plea to his mother, who has battled severe lifelong depression, to “get out of and live.” It’s a beautiful and haunting song, and I love him for writing it.
I had almost given up on a Publishers Weekly review of my book, American Voyeur: Dispatches From the Far Reaches of Modern Life, which came out in January, but the magazine finally posted its review.
Denizet-Lewis (America Anonymous) offers these stirring and sensitive portraits of individuals—frequently adolescents—struggling to articulate desire and identity while bearing the weight of societal taboos and marginalization. In the best sections—such as his groundbreaking investigation into a subculture of closeted gay African American men and his acutely observed piece on the ostracized organization NAMBLA—he combines sharp-eyed reportage, sensitive depiction, and happily, considering the sober subject matter, a wry wit. The pieces were previously published in such magazines as the New York Times magazine, and they have the expected celerity and readability—only a few (including a piece on lipstick lesbians) succumb to a more shallow treatment. But for the breadth of his inquiries, the real shoe-leather journalism, and his ability to balance sympathy and skepticism (his study of transient gay youth is one such an example) he admirably succeeds.
Tom Eubancs of Lambda Literary recently wrote a very kind review of American Voyeur. Below is a portion. For the complete review, click here.
My first encounter with the journalism of Benoit Denizet-Lewis just happened to be his first cover story for The New York Times Magazine. I’d say it was a good day for both of us. For him, because who doesn’t want to be the youngest to ever write a cover story for The New York Times Magazine? For me, because the article he wrote, “Double Lives on the Down Low,” held me in a catatonic daze. Anticipating his next piece, I took note of his name that late summer Sunday in 2003.
Alternately titillating and horrifying, “Double Lives on the Down Low” is a 27-year-old Midwestern “white boy” writer’s unflinching chronicle of a “black homosexual underground” that affects the entire country in disturbing and dangerous ways. More importantly, Denizet-Lewis’s story played a large part in exposing the culture of men “on the down low” to mainstream America. Since that time, he has been called upon by theTimes Magazine to write a succession of conversation-starting articles: the heartbreaking “About a Boy Who Isn’t,” the unexpectedly personal “The War on Frat Culture,” the bit-too-Boston-twee “The Newlywed Gays!” and “Whatever Happened to Teen Romance?” which introduced the expression “friends with benefits” into the adult vernacular. All of these expertly-crafted journalistic endeavors are now collected (in “a slightly different form”) in American Voyeur: Dispatches From the Far Reaches of Modern Life, alongside other pieces of various length and effectiveness, published elsewhere.
The book’s table of contents focuses on Benoit Denizet-Lewis’s strengths, breaking down his essays into two categories: YOUTH and SEX—although sex and sexuality play starring or pivotal roles in almost all of the pieces collected here. The exception—perhaps—is the deeply moving and more deeply troubling piece, “Brother’s Keeper,” which Denizet-Lewis wrote when he was a fellow at the Alicia Patterson Foundation. As a gay man familiar with the specter of suicide it was difficult for me not to read some sexual dissatisfaction or even shame into the sad story of the Kochman brothers, who killed themselves one year apart from one another. To Denizet-Lewis’s credit, he doesn’t dig too deeply into the sexual lives of a couple of high school boys he will never be able to interview. More recently, in September of 2009, Denizet-Lewis displayed his innate gift for conversing with kids when the Times Magazine published his riveting “Coming out in Middle School” (not collected here). Only someone with the experience of capturing spot-on quotes from the mouths of babes could successfully report on kids daring to be openly gay as young as 12.
The Margaret Mead of teenagers and gays, Benoit Denizet-Lewis is most successful when YOUTH and SEX intersect, as in “Trouble in Paradise,” (OUT, June, 2000) in which he spends some hard time with gay homeless youths in the Castro. Another example is “Boy Crazy” (Bostonmagazine, May 2001), a fascinating look at what remains of the notorious North American Man/Boy Love Association, aside from the all-too-easy NAMBLA punch line.
© 2009 Benoit Denizet-Lewis
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