The University of Wisconsin Press

Autobiography / Gay & Lesbian Interest / Literature & Criticism



The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag
And Other Intimate Literary Portraits of the Bohemian Era
Edward Field

Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies

Opening the closet door on postwar bohemia

Long before Stonewall, young Air Force veteran Edward Field, fresh from combat in WWII, threw himself into New York's literary bohemia, searching for fulfillment as a gay man and poet. In this vivid account of his avant-garde years in Greenwich Village and the bohemian outposts of Paris's Left Bank and Tangier—where you could write poetry, be radical, and be openly gay—Field's intimate portraits of literary contemporaries such as Susan Sontag, Alfred Chester, May Swenson, and Frank O'Hara bring back the sadness, bawdiness, humor, and romanticism of the nigh-forgotten postwar bohemian subculture.

"The book is entertaining, offering gossipy anecdotes about a range of colorful gay writers, including Alfred Chester (who never really wanted to marry Susan Sontag), Robert Friend, May Swenson, and Arthur Gregor. These disparate recountings hang together because Field's sensibility— candid, perceptive, self-deprecatory—unifies them. This is a fun book that recalls an important era of American literary history." —G. Grieve-Carlson, Choice

"Of serious interest to anyone intrigued by New York literary life of the 1950s and '60s."—Publishers Weekly

"Luckily for us, there appears no end in sight to stories . . . of Greenwich Village's historic gay and lesbian literary world. Edward Field, a well-known, award-winning poet, novelist, and essayist, was in the thick of things, a friend to many; and he captures some fascinating details."—Martha E. Stone, Gay and Lesbian Review

photo of author, Field, standing, wearing blue shirt and black pants.Edward Field's poetry collections include Lamont Award­winner Stand Up, Friend, With Me; Counting Myself Lucky: Selected Poems, 1963–1992, which won a Lambda Literary Award; and A Frieze for a Temple of Love. Field is the editor of the Alfred Chester Newsletter, and with his partner, Neil Derrick, is coauthor of the novel The Villagers. Field received a Bill Whitehead Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He lives in New York City.

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Related interest
Fred in Love
Felice Picano


cover of the Field shows a collage of several sepia colored old photos. One of Susan Sontag at a cafe table in Paris, and one of a young Edward Field

March 2007

LC: 2005005440 PS
302 pp.   6 x 9
12 b/w photos, 1 drawing

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Paper $21.95 t
ISBN 978-0-299-21324-4
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Updated July 24, 2011

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