One of these Things First (Paperback)
Delphinium, 9781883285715, 208pp.
Publication Date: September 5, 2017
One of These Things First is a wry and poignant reminiscence of a 15 year old gay Jewish boy in Brooklyn in the early sixties, and his unexpected trajectory from a life behind a rack of dresses in his grandmother’s bra and girdle store, to Manhattan’s fabled Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, a fashionable Charenton for wealthy neurotics and Ivy League alcoholics, whose famous alumni include writers, poets, madmen, Marilyn Monroe, and bestselling author Steven Gaines.
With a gimlet eye and a true gift for storytelling, Gaines captures his childhood shtetl in Brooklyn like an Edward Hopper tableau, with all its dramas and secrets: his philandering grandfather with his fleet of Cadillacs and Corvettes; a trio of harpy saleswomen; a giant, empty movie theater, his portal to the outside world; a shirtless teenage boy pushing a lawnmower in front of a house on Long Island; and a pair of tormenting bullies who own the corner candy store whose taunts drive him to a suicide attempt.
Steven Gaines also takes the reader behind the walls of Payne Whitney, the “Harvard of psychiatric clinics,” as Time magazine called it, populated by a captivating group of neurasthenics who subtly begin to change him in unexpected ways. The cast of characters includes a famous Broadway producer who becomes his unlikely mentor, an elegant woman who claimed to be the ex-mistress of newly elected president John F. Kennedy, a snooty, suicidal Harvard architect, and a seductive young Contessa. At the center of the story is a brilliant young psychiatrist who promises to cure a young boy of his homosexuality and give him the normalcy he so longs for. Through it all, Gaines weaves a tale that delights and disturbs with his trademark raconteur panache.
About the Author
Praise For One of these Things First…
— New York Times Book Review
“An extraordinary book. Incredibly moving and beautifully written.”
— Jay McInerney
“Humane and generous…Shocking, funny, and sometimes shockingly funny. A real treasure.”
— Boston Globe
“By turns comic, honest, and riveting,”
— Publishers Weekly
“A candid, entertaining memoir… A spirited narrative of a hard-won coming-of-age."
— Kirkus Reviews
“Years ago Dominick Dunne called Steven Gaines 'a born storyteller.' If anything, we now know Gaines was meant to write his own powerful, heart-wrenching, and funny life story. I could not put it down.”
— Steven Petrow, The Washington Post
“This is a memoir for anyone who loves Paddy Chayefsky and Hanya Yanigahara. Steven Gaines has turned his considerable journalistic talents onto his younger self, writing a lyrical, wry and precisely excavated book.”
— Carl Swanson, New York Magazine
“Gaines' readers accompany him on this heart wrenching, funny, ultimately triumphant journey.”
— Bay Area Reporter
“A poignant and funny book that proves it does get better.”
— Joy Behar, The View