Gooch, Brad 1952-
GOOCH, Brad 1952-
PERSONAL: Born January 31, 1952, in Kingston, PA; son of John Glenn (a utilities executive) and Bette (Miller) Gooch. Education: Columbia College, B.A. (magna cum laude), 1973; Columbia University, Ph.D. (with honors), 1986.
CAREER: William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ, professor of English; freelance writer.
MEMBER: PEN, Poetry Society of America, Phi Beta Kappa.
The Daily News, Z Press (Calais, VT), 1977.
Jailbait and Other Stories, Sea Horse (New York, NY), 1984.
Hall & Oates (biography), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1984.
Billy Idol (biography), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 1985.
Scary Kisses (novel), Putnam (New York, NY), 1988.
City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara, Knopf (New York, NY), 1993.
The Golden Age of Promiscuity (novel), Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.
Finding the Boyfriend Within, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 1999.
Zombie00 (novel), Overlook (Woodstock, NY), 2000.
Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America, Knopf (New York, NY), 2002.
Dating the Greek Gods: Empowering Spiritual Sex and Love, Creativity and Wisdom, Simon & Schuster (New York, NY), 2003.
Contributor to magazines, including Nation, Vanity Fair, American Poetry Review, Paris Review, and Partisan Review.
SIDELIGHTS: "When I was growing up," Brad Gooch told Gay & Lesbian Literature 2, "I didn't know anything about gay fiction. Whatever examples were around were over my young head." He then noted that "one of the first writers I found who actually dared to produce some gay product was the poet Frank O'Hara." (Gooch published a biography of O'Hara in 1993.)
The characters in Gooch's novels and short stories tend to migrate toward the carefree, even reckless, aspects of modern gay life; as models, filmmakers, and other artistic types, these men engage in numerous and casual sexual contact that "would lead one to believe that [his fiction's] point of celebration is the liberating effects of sexuality," according to a Gay & Lesbian Literature 2 essay by David Peterson. However, Peterson adds, "it is the aftermath of sex—the changes it may bring, for example in an individual's conception of self—that concerns Gooch the most."
In Gooch's stories that deal with adult characters, "the events that follow sex usually highlight the lack of a strong, continually developing spiritual communication that sexuality often is seen to initiate," as Peterson elaborates. In The Golden Age of Promiscuity the author explores the freewheeling urban culture of the 1970s. New York, NY in the pre-AIDS era is the setting for an exploration of "anonymous sex in outrageous bars and seedy bathhouses, under the cover of drug-enhanced darkness or beneath bright disco lights," as Peterson describes it. Into this atmosphere steps Sean Devlin, who has forsaken fine art to produce gay pornography. While some critics faulted Gooch for producing "flat characters and pretentious prose" (in the words of a Publishers Weekly reviewer), Peterson maintains that with Promiscuity and other works Gooch "has placed himself in the forefront of gay American literature in the late twentieth century, and thus within a post-AIDS frontier of gay spirituality that has yet to be fully explored."
Gooch explores religion and spirituality outside the mainstream in his 2002 study Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America. The author investigates the social aspects of various spiritual movements: the East-meets-West pop psychology of author Deepak Chopra; the monks of the Trappist movement; the modern spiritualism of The Urantia Book; the growing homosexual church movement; and the lives of Muslims in New York, NY. "Unfortunately, for all the genuine curiosity he brings to the subject, Gooch supplies little interpretative nuance or a real sense of how American belief has changed," Washington Post Book World contributor Chris Lehmann remarked, adding that Godtalk is "more prone to sound bites than illumination." Krista Tippett, however, observed in Theology Today that "Gooch's attention to social detail leads him and his readers into intriguing territories of stereotype-defying irony," although she found that Gooch's "dispassionate distance" from his subjects led to a "strangely unaffecting" book. As a Publishers Weekly critic concluded, "Those willing to follow the meandering trails of Gooch's detail will find an engaging portrait of at least five religious movements."
After the success of his 1999 gay dating guide Finding the Boyfriend Within, Gooch once again explored the spiritual side of homosexuality in his 2003 self-help book Dating the Greek Gods: Empowering Spiritual Sex and Love, Creativity and Wisdom. As the author explained to Advocate reporter Robert L. Pela, "Between the [gay] movement's coming of age and my coming of age, … a lot of us were faced with the issue of, how does the sexual liberation aspect fit into the other parts of your life?" In Dating the Greek Gods, Gooch offers Greek philosophy and mythology—starting with Socrates's dictum "know thyself"—as a way for gay men to develop successful relationships. Different chapters explore different archetypes from Greek mythology—such as the messenger (Hermes), the wise man (Apollo), and the lover (Eros)—and show the reader how to analyze themselves and their relationships using these traits. "Aside from an aimless chapter on Dionysus, this thematic approach works well," Douglas C. Lord stated in Library Journal. As the author does with his previous self-help guide, Booklist contributor Michael Spinella concluded, "Gooch continues to ask gay men to look inside themselves in order to seek out what they truly desire."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Gay & Lesbian Literature 2, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Advocate, August 19, 2003, Robert L. Pela, "Worldly Wisdom," p. 98.
Booklist, July, 2003, Michael Spinella, review of Dating the Greek Gods: Empowering Spiritual Sex and Love, Creativity and Wisdom, p. 1848.
Christian Century, July 31-August 13, 2002, Wayne A. Holst, review of Godtalk: Travels in Spiritual America, p. 38.
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2002, review of Godtalk, p. 307.
Lambda Book Report, September-October, 1996, Arnie Kantrowitz, review of The Golden Age of Promiscuity, p. 19.
Library Journal, July, 2003, Douglas C. Lord, review of Dating the Greek Gods, p. 109.
New Republic, August 2, 1993, Richard Poirier, review of City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O'Hara, p. 33.
New York Times, June 29, 2003, Bob Morris, "The Age of Dissonance," sec. 9, p. 3.
New York Times Book Review, June 20, 1993, David Lehman, review of City Poet, p. 18; July 14, 1996, Jim Gladstone, review of The Golden Age of Promiscuity, p. 16.
Publishers Weekly, April 22, 1996, review of The Golden Age of Promiscuity, p. 58; April 1, 2002, review of Godtalk, pp. 79-79.
Theology Today, April, 2003, Krista Tippett, review of Godtalk, pp. 108, 100.
Washington Post Book World, April 16, 2002, Chris Lehmann, "The Roads to Salvation," p. C4.
World Literature Today, summer, 1994, John Boening, review of City Poet, p. 575.*