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Widescreen Dreams

In 1973, a sweet-tempered, ferociously imaginative ten-year-old boy named Patrick Horrigan saw the TV premiere of the film version of Hello, Dolly! starring Barbra Streisand. His life would never be the same. Widescreen Dreams: Growing Up Gay at the Movies traces Horrigan s development from childhood to gay male adulthood through a series of visceral encounters with an unexpected handful of Hollywood movies from the 1960s and 1970s: Hello Dolly!, The Sound of Music, The Poseidon Adventure, Dog Day Afternoon, and The Wiz."
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About the Author

Patrick E. Horrigan is associate professor of English at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University. He is theauthor of a play, Messages for Gary, and lives in Manhattan.


In five idiosyncratic and overtly personal essays and "outtakes," Horrigan, an assistant professor of English at Long Island University, discusses how The Sound of Music, Hello, Dolly, The Poseidon Adventure, The Wiz and Dog Day Afternoon provoked an active fantasy life in his childhood and teen years that in turn grounded his sense of self as a gay man. Mixing autobiography, film criticism, cultural commentary and his own fantasies, he examines his responses to these films in the context of his family life, sexual desires and relationships. His insistence on recounting such minute details as how the Alps in The Sound of Music reminded his mother of the hills of her Reading, Pa., birthplace can detract from his more sustained reflections. But when Horrigan is on target, as when he reveals how his sexual fantasies about Al Pacino enabled him to understand and act upon his own sexual desires, his personal anecdotes illuminate the complex relationship between film and the imagination. Horrigan can write directly and elegantly; occasionally, his over-the-top projections, such as a five-page transcription of a fantasy interview with Dick Cavett after "Patrick Horrigan" makes a gay film with Al Pacino, are both daring and exhilarating. Like Wayne Koestenbaum's The Queen's Throat or D.A. Miller's Place for Us, Horrigan's take on the interaction between gay men and mainstream culture is challenging, although at times so personal that a more universal appeal cannot be taken for granted. (May)

"Widescreen Dreams is a terrific book and an impressive debut." - William J. Mann, author of The Biograph Girl and Wisecracker; "Horrigan transforms a series of his critical writings on film into a touching and insightful look at a gay youth coming of age.... Highly recommended." - Library Journal

This memoir began as an experiment in merging cultural studies with autobiography, and it succeeds beautifully. Horrigan transforms a series of his critical writings on film into a touching and insightful look at a gay youth coming of age and coming to terms with himself. Each of the five chapters discusses a film in the context of Horrigan's family life and personal development. The book begins with The Sound of Music, moves on to the Barbra Streisand era, The Poseidon Adventure, and The Wiz, and ends with Horrigan's memory of Al Pacino's role as a gay man in Dog Day Afternoon. Particularly interesting are Horrigan's childhood fantasy movies and his mock interview with Dick Cavett about his own role playing Sonny, Pacino's young lover in a film he writes himself. This fascinating autobiographical tribute to American filmmaking is highly recommended for academic libraries with gay/lesbian and film studies collections.ÄLisa N. Johnston, Sweet Briar Coll. Lib., VA

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