The Elusive Embrace by Daniel Mendelsohn
Desire and the Riddle of Identity

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Hailed for its searing emotional insights, and for the astonishing originality with which it weaves together personal history, cultural essay, and readings of classical texts by Sophocles, Ovid, Euripides, and Sappho, The Elusive Embrace is a profound exploration of the mysteries of identity.  It is also a meditation in which the author uses his own divided life to investigate the "rich conflictedness of things," the double lives all of us lead.

Daniel Mendelsohn recalls the deceptively quiet suburb where he grew up, torn between his mathematician father's pursuit of scientific truth and the exquisite lies spun by his Orthodox Jewish grandfather; the streets of manhattan's newest "gay ghetto," where "desire for love" competes with "love of desire;" and the quiet moonlit house where a close friend's small son teaches him the meaning of fatherhood.  And, finally, in a neglected Jewish cemetery, the author uncovers a  family secret that reveals the universal need for storytelling, for inventing myths of the self.  The book that Hilton Als calls "equal to Whitman's 'Song of Myself,'" The Elusive Embrace marks a dazzling literary debut.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Daniel Mendelsohn

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Daniel Mendelsohn's reviews and essays on literary and cultural subjects appear frequently in The New York Review of Books andThe New Yorker. His books include a memoir, The Elusive Embrace, a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year; the international best seller The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million; an acclaimed translation of the works of C. P. Cavafy; and a previous collection of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken. He teaches at Bard College.
Published January 4, 2012 by Vintage. 221 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Such, claims Mendelsohn, is the gay identity, which hovers between the extremes of the straight world into which every gay man is born and the gay world that he eventually chooses to inhabit.

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