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Smash Cut: A Memoir of Howard & Art & the '70s & the '80s

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Brad Gooch arrived in New York in the late 1970s, yearning for artistic and personal freedom. Smash Cut is his bold and intimate memoir of this exhilarating time and place. At its center is his love affair with film director Howard Brookner, pieced together from fragments of memory and fueled by a panoply of emotions, from blazing ecstasy to bleakest despair. Gooch and Bro Brad Gooch arrived in New York in the late 1970s, yearning for artistic and personal freedom. Smash Cut is his bold and intimate memoir of this exhilarating time and place. At its center is his love affair with film director Howard Brookner, pieced together from fragments of memory and fueled by a panoply of emotions, from blazing ecstasy to bleakest despair. Gooch and Brookner’s intense relationship is haunted by the specter of addiction—heroin (Brookner) and promiscuous sex (Gooch)—and the lure of temptation. As both men try to reconcile love and fidelity with the irresistible desire to enjoy the carnal abandon of the age, they live together and apart. Gooch works briefly as a model in Milan, then returns to the city and discovers his vocation as an artist. Brookner falls ill with a mysterious virus that soon has a terrifying name: AIDS. And the story, and life in the city, is suddenly overshadowed by this new demon plague that will ravage a generation and transform the creative world. Gooch charts the progress of Brookner through his illness, and writes unforgettably about endings: of a great talent, a passionate love affair, and an incandescent era. Beautifully written, full of rich detail and poignant reflection, recalling a time and a place and group of friends with affection and clarity, Smash Cut is an extraordinary memoir and an exquisite account of an epoch.


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Brad Gooch arrived in New York in the late 1970s, yearning for artistic and personal freedom. Smash Cut is his bold and intimate memoir of this exhilarating time and place. At its center is his love affair with film director Howard Brookner, pieced together from fragments of memory and fueled by a panoply of emotions, from blazing ecstasy to bleakest despair. Gooch and Bro Brad Gooch arrived in New York in the late 1970s, yearning for artistic and personal freedom. Smash Cut is his bold and intimate memoir of this exhilarating time and place. At its center is his love affair with film director Howard Brookner, pieced together from fragments of memory and fueled by a panoply of emotions, from blazing ecstasy to bleakest despair. Gooch and Brookner’s intense relationship is haunted by the specter of addiction—heroin (Brookner) and promiscuous sex (Gooch)—and the lure of temptation. As both men try to reconcile love and fidelity with the irresistible desire to enjoy the carnal abandon of the age, they live together and apart. Gooch works briefly as a model in Milan, then returns to the city and discovers his vocation as an artist. Brookner falls ill with a mysterious virus that soon has a terrifying name: AIDS. And the story, and life in the city, is suddenly overshadowed by this new demon plague that will ravage a generation and transform the creative world. Gooch charts the progress of Brookner through his illness, and writes unforgettably about endings: of a great talent, a passionate love affair, and an incandescent era. Beautifully written, full of rich detail and poignant reflection, recalling a time and a place and group of friends with affection and clarity, Smash Cut is an extraordinary memoir and an exquisite account of an epoch.

30 review for Smash Cut: A Memoir of Howard & Art & the '70s & the '80s

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ulysses Dietz

    For anyone of my generation of gay men in America, children of Stonewall who came out in the 1970s, reading a memoir by another survivor of this era is inevitably tough. Brad Gooch’s new book, recounting his stormy life with filmmaker Howard Brookner, was every bit as harrowing as I expected it to be. Reading gay memoirs of the 1970s and 80s is hard, because we all lived through the same nightmare wherever we were. What made this eerier for me is that I was at Exeter with Howard Brookner, the sem For anyone of my generation of gay men in America, children of Stonewall who came out in the 1970s, reading a memoir by another survivor of this era is inevitably tough. Brad Gooch’s new book, recounting his stormy life with filmmaker Howard Brookner, was every bit as harrowing as I expected it to be. Reading gay memoirs of the 1970s and 80s is hard, because we all lived through the same nightmare wherever we were. What made this eerier for me is that I was at Exeter with Howard Brookner, the semi-subject of this tragic romance. He was a year older, and we didn't know each other, but I remember him clearly. He was one of the long-haired "bad boys" who smoked and didn't socialize with preppy boys such as I, who spent our time sublimating our sexuality into loud clothes and high grades. So Gooch's memoir, set between 1978 and 1989, is sort of a parallel life to the one my husband and I lived eighteen miles to the west in suburban New Jersey. We were never cool, and never involved in the art and film scene as Brad and Howard were; but we knew people who were. We were on the edge of that world of beautiful men and hot clubs and sexual freedom. From our leafy suburban hilltop we could see the lights of Manhattan. Reading this wonderful, heart-breaking book is like watching a car crash in slow motion. I wanted the ending to be different, but I knew it wouldn't be. We saw it happen too many times in our own world. AIDS paid no attention to issues of bridge and tunnel. What makes “Smash Cut” so different from Paul Monette’s “Borrowed Time: an AIDS Memoir,” or Larry Kramer’s fictionalized memoir “The Normal Heart” (a play and film), is that it is infused with love, not anger. Possibly the difference is that Gooch survived, learning that he was HIV negative at precisely the same time I did in 1989, and thus he can bring a spiritual generosity to his story, distanced now by over two decades from the immediacy of the sadness and suffering of Howard’s end. The book is filled with wry honesty and genuine humor. As a couple, Howard Brookner and Brad Gooch were a disaster (or, as our daughter would say, a hot mess); and yet the love between them comes through as strong and real as any I’ve ever experienced on the pages of a book. Aided and abetted by Brad’s brief career as a model and Howard’s ongoing work on William Burroughs’ biopic, the young men are caught up in an endless series of addictions and compulsive infidelities. The siren song of the 1970s was a very strong one. It was not conducive to neat pairings or cautious behavior. The conscious desire on the part of both Brad and Howard to turn their backs on the bland suburban world of their parents simply added fuel to the fire. And yet, there is a kind of kids-in-a-candy-store innocence about their headlong plunge into the bars and baths of Manhattan. Oddly, I thought of Dorothy and her companions arriving in the Emerald City in the film version of The Wizard of Oz, as they indulge in all the urban wonders of that magical place before facing the terror of the wizard himself. The lure of New York and its very specific brand of gay liberation was, perhaps, exactly why my boyfriend and I decided to move to the suburbs back in 1980. Gooch is now 63, married to another man and the father of a child. He teaches at a university in New Jersey but still lives in Manhattan. That his life should end up so oddly parallel to my own simply underscores the dark whimsy of the world gay men all over the USA lived through together in the 1980s and infuses this big-hearted biographical narrative with a bittersweet poignancy that makes it particularly powerful.

  2. 4 out of 5

    J.P.

    Covering the same period and some of the same people as Patti Smith's Just Kids, Smash Cut is about the relationship between author Brad Gooch and filmmaker Howard Brookner. Gooch's writing is spare and conversational, with qualities of (obvious) hindsight and inevitability. (I kept thinking of a line from Miranda July's movie You Me and Everyone We Know in which two people who've just met are walking down the block and someone makes a comment about being able to see the end of a relationship fr Covering the same period and some of the same people as Patti Smith's Just Kids, Smash Cut is about the relationship between author Brad Gooch and filmmaker Howard Brookner. Gooch's writing is spare and conversational, with qualities of (obvious) hindsight and inevitability. (I kept thinking of a line from Miranda July's movie You Me and Everyone We Know in which two people who've just met are walking down the block and someone makes a comment about being able to see the end of a relationship from its beginning.) I ended the book sobbing, so a good time was had by all. The only thing I want more of? More pictures: I want to see more of the world I've been invited to imagine.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sian Lile-Pastore

    I love memoirs where people like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns and Madonna pop up. This is, I guess, an 80s memoir in two parts - modelling, glitz and glamour- and then the complete devastation of AIDS. Brad writes about the life of his boyfriend Howard Brookner - a film director - and his death of AIDS. It's a really honest and sensitive portrayal, and I think perhaps because it was written quite recently and not directly after the events, it is more thoughtful and meditative, rather than raw an I love memoirs where people like Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns and Madonna pop up. This is, I guess, an 80s memoir in two parts - modelling, glitz and glamour- and then the complete devastation of AIDS. Brad writes about the life of his boyfriend Howard Brookner - a film director - and his death of AIDS. It's a really honest and sensitive portrayal, and I think perhaps because it was written quite recently and not directly after the events, it is more thoughtful and meditative, rather than raw and harrowing. He does write how he held it together while Howard was ill and dying and then for years after had to process the grief and rage that he'd forced aside, and perhaps you can see this here - that he has, in a sense, come to terms with what has happened and is able to write about it in a different way.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Scott Shive

    Brad Gooch lived a remarkable life as a young man in New York during a remarkably vulnerable time for gay men in America, the late 1970s and '80s, when the onslaught of AIDS had his friends and lovers dropping like flies around him. He hobnobbed with William Burroughs, Robert Mapplethorpe, Madonna, Tina Brown, Anna Wintour, etc.; he lived at the Chelsea Hotel and frequented legendary nightspots; and he managed be a sexually promiscuous male model with a Ph.D. in literature. Most of all, though, Brad Gooch lived a remarkable life as a young man in New York during a remarkably vulnerable time for gay men in America, the late 1970s and '80s, when the onslaught of AIDS had his friends and lovers dropping like flies around him. He hobnobbed with William Burroughs, Robert Mapplethorpe, Madonna, Tina Brown, Anna Wintour, etc.; he lived at the Chelsea Hotel and frequented legendary nightspots; and he managed be a sexually promiscuous male model with a Ph.D. in literature. Most of all, though, he also was deeply in love during that time. This memoir is an intimate recounting of those days, mostly through the story of that relationship, which was deep, flawed and beautiful. Gooch is a good writer who is able to set a scene and make the reader feel like he/she is right there living in the situation with him, but I wish there had been tighter editing of this rather stream-of-consciousness story; facts aren't always kept straight, the story uselessly meanders at times, and I would have liked to have a little bit of "where are they now" information about key players. Still, this is a lovely portrait of a culture, place and people very specific to an important time in history. If you are interested in honest portrayals of gay men in that era, this is highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    A

    The intense and beautiful final chapter makes up for the forgettable 3 sections that come before it. The first 175pp. of this book are clearly going for a Just Kids ramblingly profound style, which I guess makes sense considering the timeline and milieu (and many of the characters) of this book overlap nearly exactly with Patti Smith's book (indeed, Mapplethorpe plays a key role in Gooch's story, and Gooch and Howard even live for a while in the Chelsea Hotel). Gooch isn't quite up to the task, The intense and beautiful final chapter makes up for the forgettable 3 sections that come before it. The first 175pp. of this book are clearly going for a Just Kids ramblingly profound style, which I guess makes sense considering the timeline and milieu (and many of the characters) of this book overlap nearly exactly with Patti Smith's book (indeed, Mapplethorpe plays a key role in Gooch's story, and Gooch and Howard even live for a while in the Chelsea Hotel). Gooch isn't quite up to the task, unfortunately, and so it comes off more as awkward name-dropping than deep thoughts on artmaking and identity. But then the "RARE CANCER SEEN IN 41 HOMOSEXUALS" headline suddenly pops up, and Gooch seems just as suddenly to hit on the subject his heart was clearly more interested in talking about all along.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alvin

    Gooch's prose is honest, insightful, and clear - if not particularly stylish – and the subject matter is fascinating. Gooch and his paramour belonged to a privileged stratum of gay society usually invisible to trash like me, and I enjoyed my inside peek. AIDS, of course, offered no deferments on the grounds of wealth, beauty, or celebrity, so be prepared for a good long cry at the ending. Gooch's prose is honest, insightful, and clear - if not particularly stylish – and the subject matter is fascinating. Gooch and his paramour belonged to a privileged stratum of gay society usually invisible to trash like me, and I enjoyed my inside peek. AIDS, of course, offered no deferments on the grounds of wealth, beauty, or celebrity, so be prepared for a good long cry at the ending.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    Muddled and gauzy, probably not in the way the author intended. The repressed editor in me kept trying to discern what was wrong with the prose here, whether Gooch was just trying to do too much in a sentence or paragraph or just got lost in his own material. There are some gems here but the overall effect is next to nil.

  8. 5 out of 5

    David

    Whatever reasons compelled me to read this, I am glad I did. But just realized I should not try to post my review right when I finish a book, because at the moment I am too emotional to say anything more about this.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Scott Munden

    This is a middling memoir about New York in the 70s and 80s. It was an extremely interesting period in the life of a great city that looked to be in steep decline in the 70s. I would recommend James Wolcott's "Lucking Out" and Edmund White's "City Boy" as better alternatives to Gooch's book. This is a middling memoir about New York in the 70s and 80s. It was an extremely interesting period in the life of a great city that looked to be in steep decline in the 70s. I would recommend James Wolcott's "Lucking Out" and Edmund White's "City Boy" as better alternatives to Gooch's book.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Freda Mans-Labianca

    What a life! How do you possibly review someone's life? Like it or not, it happened. One person has just told their story and just that interests me. I like hearing about people and what they've been through. I learned Brad Gooch is a kind, funny, caring person that was madly in love with someone who would be the base of so much of his life. Like the valve that makes a heart beat. A necessary part. They not only shared their private lives, but professional as well. I felt the author got lost in hi What a life! How do you possibly review someone's life? Like it or not, it happened. One person has just told their story and just that interests me. I like hearing about people and what they've been through. I learned Brad Gooch is a kind, funny, caring person that was madly in love with someone who would be the base of so much of his life. Like the valve that makes a heart beat. A necessary part. They not only shared their private lives, but professional as well. I felt the author got lost in his own story at times though, too much for me to where the pages felt a little like rambling. For the most part though, it flowed well. I was a little bothered by some of the small details in his life. I felt like those were obvious embellishments. I guess I will never know the real thing behind his first sexual encounter... was it whip cream and pineapple rings or whip cream and maraschino cherries? Like, I said, small details. Not everyone is gonna dig this book though. There is a lot of sensitive content, drugs, sex, and more. If you like a story with the odd name drop here and there, then this will be for you.

  11. 5 out of 5

    John Treat

    Far too much gratuitous name-dropping in this rather flatly told memoir, but the last section of the book -- "St. Vincent's -- details the death of Howard Brookner with dignity and love. I know several of the people Gooch talks about, and he gets them right. Far too much gratuitous name-dropping in this rather flatly told memoir, but the last section of the book -- "St. Vincent's -- details the death of Howard Brookner with dignity and love. I know several of the people Gooch talks about, and he gets them right.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Holland

    Reflective and romantic. This love story is part magic and part tragic. Poetically written, beautiful and sad usually at the same time. I really loved all the carefully curated photos and artifacts scattered throughout the journey.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Salvatore

    This is Gooch's elegy to his lost love, but also his paean to 'the golden age of promiscuity', to borrow the title from one of his novels. He's attempting what Patti Smith did in her Just Kids (and of course Gooch knew her and Robert Mapplethorpe and they feature in this narrative). It's touching to see a relationship between Brad and Howard never quite work as they want it to. It's sad to read about Howard's slow and agonizing death. Side note: I think Brad Gooch must have made a Dorian Gray-lik This is Gooch's elegy to his lost love, but also his paean to 'the golden age of promiscuity', to borrow the title from one of his novels. He's attempting what Patti Smith did in her Just Kids (and of course Gooch knew her and Robert Mapplethorpe and they feature in this narrative). It's touching to see a relationship between Brad and Howard never quite work as they want it to. It's sad to read about Howard's slow and agonizing death. Side note: I think Brad Gooch must have made a Dorian Gray-like deal, as his features haven't changed in, what, 30 years?! How can this be?!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Ritchie

    Memoir of the author's life as a young gay man in New York City. As the title notes, it focuses on his relationship with filmmaker Howard Brookner, who died of AIDS in the late 80s. The first half follows their careers and their attempt to map out a friends/lovers/partners relationship. When Brookner becomes HIV+, it turns into a story of fear and caretaking and love. As a gay man who lived though this period, I thought, do I really need to read another AIDS memoir of illness and frustration and Memoir of the author's life as a young gay man in New York City. As the title notes, it focuses on his relationship with filmmaker Howard Brookner, who died of AIDS in the late 80s. The first half follows their careers and their attempt to map out a friends/lovers/partners relationship. When Brookner becomes HIV+, it turns into a story of fear and caretaking and love. As a gay man who lived though this period, I thought, do I really need to read another AIDS memoir of illness and frustration and desperation, but this is, despite some looseness in structure and detail, well worth reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    To be honest, I was disappointed. The writing seemed so cold and distant, as if Gooch were writing about the things he observed or heard about, rather than things that he was in fact a part of or participant in. It almost felt like profile journalism, with no insight into the thoughts and forces moving the assemble personages. If you want a good read about this period in New York, pick up Patti Smith’s “Just Kids”; you won’t regret it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Denis

    In 1978, in a New York gay bar, two beautiful, talented, and young men meet: Brad and Howard. It is, in a way, love at first sight. Eleven years later, in 1989, Brad says goodbye forever to Howard at the New Jersey cemetery where he’s just been buried on the day he should have been celebrating his 35th birthday. Smash Cut is the exhilarating, sad, and true story of those eleven years, as seen through the eyes of Brad. It is the story of two complicated men in a complicated time, of a magnificent In 1978, in a New York gay bar, two beautiful, talented, and young men meet: Brad and Howard. It is, in a way, love at first sight. Eleven years later, in 1989, Brad says goodbye forever to Howard at the New Jersey cemetery where he’s just been buried on the day he should have been celebrating his 35th birthday. Smash Cut is the exhilarating, sad, and true story of those eleven years, as seen through the eyes of Brad. It is the story of two complicated men in a complicated time, of a magnificent yet convoluted love affair, of New York at a crossroad, of arts and AIDS and friendships. Brad Gooch is not really nostalgic, and he is not - as Patti Smith was in Just Kids, with which this book bears similarities - writing in a lyrical and poetic manner to recapture the magic of a very special era. His style is more prosaic and matter-of-factly. He’s straight to the point, and he remembers, without sentimentality but with an almost clinical eye, not only the lover and friend that is gone, but also the places they’ve shared (like Smith, they, too, lived for a while at the famed Chelsea Hotel), the incredibly vibrant artistic and gay community they were part of, the moments that brought them together and the ones that brought them apart, the anonymous as well as the famous people they knew (Andy Warhol, Robert Mapplethorpe, William S. Burroughs, Madonna make appearances), and the paths they built for themselves: Brad, a student with writing ambitions, becomes a model (his remembrances of the fashion world are very witty and amusing) before making a name for himself as a writer, while Howard becomes a director. The exciting and somehow innocent hedonism that characterizes the end of the seventies is followed by the chaotic brilliance of the eighties: both periods are wonderfully rendered through personal and intimate vignette. The complex chart of Brad and Howard’s love is told with a blunt honesty. Gooch may have penned an elegy, a requiem, an homage to the man he loved and who died too young, but he’s not shying away from the messiness of their life together: the drug addictions, the sexual escapades, the separations, the careers that sometimes took them away from each other. Yet the intense and formidable feelings that bond them and that never break are always palpable, and Smash Cut ends up being the vivid portrait of a sometimes difficult but deep and everlasting relationship. The love that Brad and Howard shared shines through the pages. Howard is mercurial and irresistible, charming and charismatic, and he is at the heart of Smash Cut: Brad, despite being the survivor and the narrator, and maybe because he wants mostly to focus on someone who truly seems to have been his soulmate, deliberately takes the backseat, and therefore his memoir is more about Howard than about himself. Still, it is hard not to be under Brad’s spell too. The last part of the book is about the AIDS tragedy, and it is its most powerful. It is actually one of the most heart wrenching and devastating accounts I have ever read of what happened then. Rarely has the unimaginable mixture of terror, love, compassion, anger, loss, suffering, trauma, and humanity in the midst of a nightmare been told in such a raw, simple, and visceral way. Brad Gooch looks at those cruel times with an unflinching eye, but with such heart that it is impossible not to read those pages without tearing up. I cried. I cried for Howard, for their love, for an era that ended up in such a horrific way, for all the men we’ve lost in those years, for Brad’s shattering pain. I probably cried for myself, too: any gay man who was of age during that decade and living in a big city (I was in Paris, not New York) will find echoes of his own experiences in Gooch's book. Ultimately, Smash Cut is a tender cry to not forget, to keep remembering the ones who have passed away, to recognize all the art that was born out of such tumultuous times. Howard will never cease to live within Brad, and Brad’s gift to us is to have dared face the heartbreaks of the past to share his memories of a man we now wish was still here. This memoir of an era gone by, and of the meteor that was Howard’s life, is one of the most harrowing and romantic books I have read lately.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Raven Haired Girl

    As I read Gooches reflections I couldn’t help but notice how much the times have changed. First, leaps and bounds and been made in the treatment and handling of HIV/AIDS. So much more is known now as compared to when it first reared its ugly head. Secondly, behavior seems to have tempered, the decades following the raucous iniquitousness of the 1970’s and 1980’s noticeably cool, peppered with caution, knowledge as well as responsibility. Third, gay rights, such as same sex marriage – no longer a As I read Gooches reflections I couldn’t help but notice how much the times have changed. First, leaps and bounds and been made in the treatment and handling of HIV/AIDS. So much more is known now as compared to when it first reared its ugly head. Secondly, behavior seems to have tempered, the decades following the raucous iniquitousness of the 1970’s and 1980’s noticeably cool, peppered with caution, knowledge as well as responsibility. Third, gay rights, such as same sex marriage – no longer a foreign or unheard of term, Gooch makes note of this as he revisits, in fact, Gooch is indeed married to his long time love. Gooch can’t deny he satiated his zest for life. He lived every minute of the wild ride of the 70’s and 80’s. He seems very candid in sharing his passionate and turbulent relationship with deceased film maker Howard Brookner. These two loved hard and fought harder. Both dealing with past issues, new demons haunt them resulting in a downward spiral of their on again, off again relationship until Brookner succumbed to AIDS. Loads of high brown names dropped as these two mingled with a plethora of intellectuals and artists. Promiscuity, drug abuse, ongoing rifts takes a toll on the duo, however, their undeniable commitment and love tether them until the very end. A story of one man’s colorful life, a romantic involvement forever piercing his heart all taking place in permissive and lascivious times. Gooch is reflective as he grants the reader full on privy to a poignant time in his life. For this and more reviews visit http://ravenhairedgirl.com

  18. 5 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    Not that familiar with Gooch's other work, but this memoir grew on me. Sweet, sad, evocative, and moving. It’s the story of a personal relationship, but also offers insight into the creative practice (Howard was a filmmaker; Brad a writer). Howard’s been gone for over 30 years now. That’s a whole generation of what today would be community elders, who all died way too soon, way too young. Howard Brookner was also the subject of the documentary Uncle Howard, where his young nephew (who never had t Not that familiar with Gooch's other work, but this memoir grew on me. Sweet, sad, evocative, and moving. It’s the story of a personal relationship, but also offers insight into the creative practice (Howard was a filmmaker; Brad a writer). Howard’s been gone for over 30 years now. That’s a whole generation of what today would be community elders, who all died way too soon, way too young. Howard Brookner was also the subject of the documentary Uncle Howard, where his young nephew (who never had the opportunity to get to know his uncle) explores his uncle’s life and work through interviews and archival material. Uncle Howard is a great companion to this memoir—creating a fascinating multimedia experience.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Julia Alberino

    It's hard for me to rate, or review, this book. I know Brad Gooch, though I didn't meet him until many years after the events of this book. I knew vaguely about his past, which is laid out here in considerable detail. More than anything, however, this book is an elegy to Howard, and the years they shared. It is at times funny, at times tender, and at time incredibly sad and painful. There are parts of this story that intersect in a small way with my own experience of the 70s and 80s, especially It's hard for me to rate, or review, this book. I know Brad Gooch, though I didn't meet him until many years after the events of this book. I knew vaguely about his past, which is laid out here in considerable detail. More than anything, however, this book is an elegy to Howard, and the years they shared. It is at times funny, at times tender, and at time incredibly sad and painful. There are parts of this story that intersect in a small way with my own experience of the 70s and 80s, especially the 80s. For those of us of a certain age, who were in New York City or any other city with a large gay population in the 1980s, Brad's book qualifies as a "must read."

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jim Coughenour

    Like other reviewers here, I lived through the dark decade of AIDS and experienced the loss of friends and lovers, young men in their 20s and 30s just beginning their lives. Gooch's memoir brought all that back to me, although not quite with the chilling immediacy of the recent documentaries How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here. This book has the feel of something that needed to be written, an act of homage – and it rings true. Like other reviewers here, I lived through the dark decade of AIDS and experienced the loss of friends and lovers, young men in their 20s and 30s just beginning their lives. Gooch's memoir brought all that back to me, although not quite with the chilling immediacy of the recent documentaries How to Survive a Plague and We Were Here. This book has the feel of something that needed to be written, an act of homage – and it rings true.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jerry

    "When I die, my education dies with me... My particular mix will be removed soon from this planet," Brad Gooch quotes his partner, Howard Brookner, as saying before he died. Luckily, Gooch has written a fascinating, charming, and heartbreaking memoir that not only celebrates Howard's life and talents, but also educates us a little more as to what we lost during the AIDS plague. "When I die, my education dies with me... My particular mix will be removed soon from this planet," Brad Gooch quotes his partner, Howard Brookner, as saying before he died. Luckily, Gooch has written a fascinating, charming, and heartbreaking memoir that not only celebrates Howard's life and talents, but also educates us a little more as to what we lost during the AIDS plague.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron

    This book will clean your pallet after reading another artist biography about 2 gay creators who graced (and almost survived) the American renaissance of 1970s-1980s NYC.  Whereas Peter McGough's "I've Seen the Future and I'm not Going" indulges in pretentiousness, wardrobe. self-pity and hipster-drenched tone--as well as enormous shopping sprees-- Gooch writes a less suffocating journey. There is still plenty of impactful material, and his diary of himself and film director Howard Brookner's  r This book will clean your pallet after reading another artist biography about 2 gay creators who graced (and almost survived) the American renaissance of 1970s-1980s NYC.  Whereas Peter McGough's "I've Seen the Future and I'm not Going" indulges in pretentiousness, wardrobe. self-pity and hipster-drenched tone--as well as enormous shopping sprees-- Gooch writes a less suffocating journey. There is still plenty of impactful material, and his diary of himself and film director Howard Brookner's  relationship is a strong portrait of New York. You do get a twist on the usual ingredients. There's the soulless art scene and the Chelsea Hotel. There's public promiscuity, the bathhouses, the Mineshaft, and also Warhol, drugs, only to end with AIDS--of course. Gooch's anecdotes and details re: his unsatisfying modelling career are amusing, as are the names dropped. The descriptions of Gooch's partner succumbing to AIDS, the disease ravaging his mind and body,  document a shocking decline not often captured in these kinds of books. And it doesn't matter how many times Madonna drops by. Meanwhile, the book's immense mapping of the couple's different NYC apartments, leased over a decade, still doesn't rival that found in McGough's exodus.  

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lou

    Brad Gooch's memoir is a poignant account of his on again/off again love affair and relationship with film director Howard Brookner during the late 1970's and 1980's New York. Brookner was most notable for a documentary on William Burroughs and Burroughs himself and many downtown luminaries (i.e. Warhol, Madonna, etc.) make cameo appearances in this memoir; but it never feels like name-dropping but oddly matter of fact. Gooch and Bruckner have a nice, goofy courtship -separate and get back toget Brad Gooch's memoir is a poignant account of his on again/off again love affair and relationship with film director Howard Brookner during the late 1970's and 1980's New York. Brookner was most notable for a documentary on William Burroughs and Burroughs himself and many downtown luminaries (i.e. Warhol, Madonna, etc.) make cameo appearances in this memoir; but it never feels like name-dropping but oddly matter of fact. Gooch and Bruckner have a nice, goofy courtship -separate and get back together, and experience love, friendship amid the manic panic arts scene of Manhattan (and occasionally Paris) until the HIV/AIDS crisis sets in. Without sentimentality, Gooch describes Howard's illness and I was reminded of friends who suffered the same during and after the Reagan years. This is a sad and remarkable memoir, of artistic and personal change.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Plants

    I just wrote a god damned review and it didn’t save. Fucking hell. Something about my mother’s homophobia and me, a kid who liked boys, worrying about the cut-that-wouldn’t-heal-on-my-scalp (but how could it if I kept picking at it? Oh the anxiety and homophobia collide) and how I’ve always been terrified of being myself because of it and how confusing my sexuality has always been because of my god damned parents and their god damned religion and this god damned culture’s ignorant views on love I just wrote a god damned review and it didn’t save. Fucking hell. Something about my mother’s homophobia and me, a kid who liked boys, worrying about the cut-that-wouldn’t-heal-on-my-scalp (but how could it if I kept picking at it? Oh the anxiety and homophobia collide) and how I’ve always been terrified of being myself because of it and how confusing my sexuality has always been because of my god damned parents and their god damned religion and this god damned culture’s ignorant views on love and sex and my god damned ocd brain that gets obsessed and everything is cancer and aids and death and fuck it all I just want to be okay and god damnit this book is beautiful and it broke my heart and a day later I still wanna cry.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Austin

    To say I enjoyed the book feels trite - a memoir set during the NYC AIDS crisis of the 80s is not always a pleasant read. And though at times, especially when the inevitable name dropping and self examination happens, the tone become too braggadocian for me, the raw honesty surrounding the recounting of his relationship with Howard is what makes the book worth reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I didn't know who these guys were (I was born in '82) and I almost stopped reading the book after 100 pages because I didn't understand some of the references but I'm glad I kept on reading. Smash Cut is a POWERFUL story of human nature and mother nature. It touched me deep in my heart and I really enjoyed it. I didn't know who these guys were (I was born in '82) and I almost stopped reading the book after 100 pages because I didn't understand some of the references but I'm glad I kept on reading. Smash Cut is a POWERFUL story of human nature and mother nature. It touched me deep in my heart and I really enjoyed it.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Samantha Moreno

    Tragic and lovely Even though I could see what was coming, I couldn't stop reading this book. I feel like I know everyone because the writing is superb. It takes me back to my own loss and the deepest pain I've ever felt. Thank you for this. Tragic and lovely Even though I could see what was coming, I couldn't stop reading this book. I feel like I know everyone because the writing is superb. It takes me back to my own loss and the deepest pain I've ever felt. Thank you for this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard Saffles

    Smash Cut A very well written and touching book. I recommend this for anyone who has lived through the time period and the loss of friends from the disease.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Susan Ye

    just beautiful, It was an accurate view of the ups and downs of relationships and how complicated love can be

  30. 4 out of 5

    R.J. Gilmour

    A memoir about Brad Gooch and his partner Howard Brookner and their time together in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The story follows their affair over a ten year period ending with Brookner's death from AIDS in the early days of the epidemic. Gooch has some beautiful turns of phrase and an easy style of writing that is enjoyable to read. "But the two-storey dream box, full of floor hatches and shoeshine stands, torture devices and pillories out of Puritan Salem, also had an extraordinarily da A memoir about Brad Gooch and his partner Howard Brookner and their time together in New York in the 1970s and 1980s. The story follows their affair over a ten year period ending with Brookner's death from AIDS in the early days of the epidemic. Gooch has some beautiful turns of phrase and an easy style of writing that is enjoyable to read. "But the two-storey dream box, full of floor hatches and shoeshine stands, torture devices and pillories out of Puritan Salem, also had an extraordinarily dark lustrous glamor, a cosmopolitan dandyism that must have rivalled the Hellfire Club of eighteenth-century London." 31 "I had been there two summers earlier, to the Pines, which was basically the West Village loaded unto the Long Island Railroad, then transferred by ferry, then plunked down intact on this beautiful barrier reef island in the Atlantic Ocean. The Pines was filthy with money, young white males, angled beach-wood high-modern homes built to be flimsy, with the kinds of pools David Hockney was painting in Southern California, a pervasive smell of coconut suntan lotion, and a loud persistent rumbling disco beat every night. Fantasies ran high." 33 "The seventies had a romantic aura because of so much first love among grown men." 35 "Robert was a boy from Queens, but he channeled an aristocratic WASP manner-the side of him that collected silver and antique furniture. This combination of contrary traits was common enough at the time, as in the Mineshaft doorman, part-time fussy fine-furniture curator and part-time faux-uniformed cop. Both guys were drawn to uniforms and to images of controlled violence." 59 "All those lurid ruby-red-lit rooms I'd stumbled through were scenes, in my mind, from Orpheus Descending, and in the private, last chamber of Hell, there was the Minotaur, and there was my identity." 62 "But, mostly, we were pleased, thrilled, to be who were were, with each other, where we were, then. Nostalgia has not sprinkled fake gold confetti on the before-and just-after-1980 period in New York." 64 "Then he had been a cute blond button. Now he was one of a species of gay tribal priests, preserving an entire history of underground gossip about gay, or simply bohemian, writers and artists, their sex and love lives and the backstories of their work that was still taboo (or concerned figures then of little public interest) for general publication and consumption, and so was only passed on through oral history." 66 "Models in those days were like camels on the Silk Road, carrying new technology, and fashion, around the world." 104 "Modeling's cured me of seeing myself as an object of attention," I philosophized. "With older men, the younger is the object of attention, with younger men, vice versa." 110 "I loved all that darkness made half-visible." 145 "A new permutation, gay gyms began, too, with Chelsea Gym, all gray and chrome, and a new kind of clean-cut muscle guy. We hadn't been too interested in our bodies in the seventies, but now we were." 153-154 "The 1980s was a turn of the page: careerism became important, along with muscles and money and celebrity. The more we encountered the serious depths lurking in the epidemic that we had been trying to deny, the more superficial and driven by stress we became." 154 "Time speeded up, or rather Howard's decline was so declivitous that I felt as if I were watching decades go by in weeks. He was in a time machine hurtling him fast into decrepitude and old age." 188

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