One of These Things First

A Memoir

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Pub Date 09 Aug 2016 | Archive Date 08 Mar 2022

Description

From New York Times–bestselling author Steven Gaines comes a wry and touching memoir of his trials as a gay teen at the famed Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

One of These Things First is a poignant reminiscence of a fifteen-year-old gay Jewish boy’s unexpected trajectory from a life behind a rack of dresses in his grandmother’s Brooklyn bra-and-girdle store to Manhattan’s infamous Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, whose alumni includes writers, poets, and madmen, as well as Marilyn Monroe and bestselling author Steven Gaines.

With a gimlet eye and a true gift for storytelling, Gaines captures his childhood shtetl in Brooklyn, and all its drama and secrets, like an Edward Hopper tableau: 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 and whose taunts drive Gaines to a suicide attempt.

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 claims 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.

For readers who love stories of self-transformation, One of These Things First is a fascinating memoir in the vain of Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted and Augusten Burroughs’s Running with Scissors. With its novelistic texture and unflagging narrative, this book is destined to become one of the great, indelible works of the memoir genre.
From New York Times–bestselling author Steven Gaines comes a wry and touching memoir of his trials as a gay teen at the famed Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic.

One of These Things First is a poignant...

Advance Praise

Praise for Philistines at the Hedgerow
“Such a cast of eccentrics hasn't been seen since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” —Jay McInerney, The New Yorker

“Gaines depicts a fabulous cast of real-life characters, both high and low. More fun than most fiction, this is a terrific summer—or anytime—read.” —Publishers Weekly
Praise for Philistines at the Hedgerow
“Such a cast of eccentrics hasn't been seen since Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” —Jay McInerney, The New Yorker

“Gaines depicts a fabulous cast of...

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