In July of 1953, at a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote in Portofino, Italy, Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet Anja Blomgren, a mysteriously taciturn young Swedish beauty and aspiring actress. Their encounter will go on to alter all of their lives.
Ten years later, Frank revisits the tempestuous events of that fateful summer from his deathbed in Manhattan, where he waits anxiously for Tennessee to visit him one final time. Anja, now legendary film icon Anja Bloom, lives as a recluse in the present-day U.S., until a young man connected to the events of 1953 lures her reluctantly back into the spotlight after he discovers she possesses the only surviving copy of Williams's final play.
What keeps two people together and what breaks them apart? Can we save someone else if we can't save ourselves? Like The Master and The Hours, Leading Men seamlessly weaves fact and fiction to navigate the tensions between public figures and their private lives. In an ultimately heartbreaking story about the burdens of fame and the complex negotiations of life in the shadows of greatness, Castellani creates an unforgettable leading lady in Anja Bloom and reveals the hidden machinery of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth-century.
Christopher Castellani is the son of Italian immigrants and a native of Wilmington, Delaware. He currently lives in Boston, where he is the artistic director of Grub Street, the country’s largest and leading independent creative writing center. He is the author of three critically-acclaimed novels, A Kiss from Maddalena (Algonquin Books, 2003)—winner of the Massachusetts Book Award in 2004— The Saint of Lost Things (Algonquin, 2005), a BookSense (IndieBound) Notable Book; and All This Talk of Love (Algonquin, 2013), a New York Times Editors’ Choice and finalist for the Ferro-Grumley Literary Award. The Art of Perspective: Who Tells the Story, a collection of essays on point of view in fiction, was published in 2016 by Graywolf Press. He has recently completed a new novel, Leading Men, for which he received Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Leading Men will be published in February 2019 by Viking Penguin.
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