Robert Duncan in San Francisco

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Product Details
$12.95  $12.04
City Lights Books
Publish Date
5.3 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.35 pounds

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About the Author

Michael Rumaker is an American author (born March 5, 1932 in Philadelphia, PA, to Michael Joseph and Winifred Marvel Rumaker). He is a graduate of Black Mountain College (1955) and Columbia University (1970). Most of Rumaker's fiction concerns his life as a gay man. His first book, The Butterfly, is a fictionalized memoir of his brief affair with a young Yoko Ono, published before Ono became famous. His short stories, Gringos and Other Stories, appeared in 1967. A revised and expanded version appeared in 1991. He began to write directly about his life as a gay man in the volumes A Day and a Night at the Baths (1979) and MY FIRST SATYRNALIA (1981). The novel Pagan Days (1991) is told from the perspective of an eight-year old boy struggling to understand his gay self. Black Mountain Days, a memoir of his time at Black Mountain College, has a strong autobiographical element; in addition, there are portraits of many students, faculty and visitors (especially the poets Robert Creeley and Charles Olson) during its last years, 1952-1956.


"This is a wonderfully revealing account of a series of life-changing collisions between a young writer (Rumaker), an older writer (Duncan), a still older mentor for both (Charles Olson), a city (San Francisco), and an important era in American literature (the 1950s), when it was being turned upside down by the individuals and their friends. It's also a tender and intelligent account of a young man's coming to grips with being gay in the midst of this upheaval. Much more than memir; it's history."--Russell Banks

"Robert Duncan in San Francisco offers a surprising portrait of a mentor in all his witty, wicked, luminous, and vulnerable complexity. Straddling the lines of memoir and cultural history, Michael Rumaker gives a rare and delightful view of Duncan at home in the gay community while also documenting the struggles of that community in 1950s America."--Lisa Jarnot, author of Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus

"In this fine memoir of his 16 months in San Francisco, Rumaker learns may lessons about being at home with who he is, in what he calls 'Robert's city.'"--Joanne Kyger

"[Robert Duncan in San Francisco] looks at the intriguing relationship between the famous, their fans and the soon-to-be famous."--San Francisco Chronicle

"A harrowing picture of what life was like for a homosexual man in San Francisco before the Castro became the Castro."--Truthout

"This expanded edition of a local classic is not only a portrait of the S.F. Renaissance poet, but also a glimpse of pre-Stonewall gay life in the late-1950s. Author Michael Rumaker knew Duncan, and he shares the good with the bad, set against legendary North Beach haunts."--SF Weekly

"Robert Duncan in San Francisco is a one-of-a-kind glimpse into Duncan's life, written by Michael Rumaker, one of the rare firsthand chroniclers of the pre-Stonewall era of gay culture."--Bookslut

" . . . an intriguing view of the city during the pre-Stonewall era. Of particular interest are previously unpublished letters between Rumaker and Duncan."--San Jose Mercury News

"[Robert] Duncan was ahead of his time and his frank homosexuality inspired [author Michael] Rumaker to embrace his own. Robert Duncan in San Francisco stands with books like Christopher Isherwood's A Single Man as important works on gay liberation."--KCET L.A. Letters

" . . . wonderful and exuberant yet Rumaker, outlining his friendship with Duncan and his associations with his crowd . . . reveals the dark side of San Francisco in the 1950s and 60s."--Beat Scene Magazine

"This is a book that we all should want to read to remind us of from where we came and realize that we would be nowhere if those who came before us did not speak up."--Amos Lassen, activist