Lowenthal, Michael 1969- (Michael Francis Lowenthal)
Lowenthal, Michael 1969- (Michael Francis Lowenthal)
Born May 9, 1969, in Washington, DC; son of Abraham F. (a college professor) and Janet (a public interest activist and consultant) Lowenthal. Education: Dartmouth College, B.A., 1990.
Writer and educator. Ironhorse Music Hall, Northampton, MA, dishwasher and bartender, 1990-91; University Press of New England, Hanover, NH, acquisitions editor, 1991-93; freelance writer and editor, 1993-99; Boston College, Boston, MA, lecturer in creative writing, 1999-2006; Lesley University, Cambridge, MA, instructor in MFA Program, 2003—.
PEN American Center, Authors Guild, PEN New England.
Fellow, New Hampshire State Council on the Arts, 1995-96, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 1999 and 2004, Massachusetts Cultural Council, 2000-01, Wesleyan Writers Conference, 2003, and the Hawthornden International Retreat for Writers.
The Same Embrace, Dutton (New York, NY), 1998.
Avoidance, Graywolf Press (St. Paul, MN), 2002.
Charity Girl, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
The Best of the Badboys, Masquerade Books (New York, NY), 1995.
(With John Preston, and contributor) Flesh and the Word 3: An Anthology of Gay Erotic Writing, Penguin (New York, NY), 1995.
(With John Preston, and contributor) Friends and Lovers: Gay Men Write about the Families They Create, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.
John Preston, Winter's Light: Reflections of a Yankee Queer, University Press of New England (Hanover, NH), 1995.
Gay Men at the Millennium: Sex, Spirit, Community, Putnam (New York, NY), 1997.
Flesh and the Word 4: Beyond Porn, Plume (New York, NY), 1997.
Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Gay Erotic Memoirs, Plume (New York, NY), 1999.
Work represented in anthologies, including Men on Men 5, edited by David Bergman, Plume (New York, NY), 1994; Wrestling with the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men, edited by Brian Bouldrey, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 1995; Best American Gay Fiction, edited by Brian Bouldrey, Little, Brown (New York, NY), 1996; Queer 13, edited by Clifford Chase, William Morrow (New York, NY), 1998; Neurotica, edited by Melvin Bukiet, W.W. Norton (New York, NY), 1999; Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 2003; Bestial Noise: The Tin House Fiction Reader, Bloomsbury; and Best New American Voices 2005, Harcourt (New York, NY). Contributor of stories, essays, poems, articles, and reviews to periodicals, including Kenyon Review, Esquire.com, Southern review, Tin House, Witness, New York Times Magazine, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, Out, Boston Phoenix, Other Voices, Crescent Review, and Columbia.
Michael Lowenthal is the author of novels and an editor of numerous anthologies of gay writings. In his first novel, The Same Embrace, the author focuses on Jacob Rosenbaum, a young, gay Jewish man whose straight twin brother, Jonathan, cuts off relations with him after catching him engaging in sex with another man. When Jonathan finally returns to the United States after spending time in an Israeli yeshiva, the brothers must once again deal with each other as their grandmother's stroke brings them together. In the process, they learn more about their family's history concerning the Holocaust and the terrible effects it has had on their grandmother and grandfather. Judith Katz, writing in the Lambda Book Report noted that the author's "evocation of the Holocaust and the damage it's done to the Rosenbaum family is rendered quite beautifully." Several critics praised Rosenthal for avoiding the traps that snare many first novelists. A Publishers Weekly contributor, for example, wrote: "He avoids the clichés of a coming-out novel." Writing in the same review, the critic later added that The Same Embrace is "an impressively crafted, moving debut."
Avoidance tells the story of Jeremy Stull, a man whose father died when he was young. The novel follows Jeremy as he works at Camp Ironwood, where he once camped as a boy and is now assistant camp director in the summer. Now in college, Jeremy also studies the strict Amish community as part of his graduate studies. At the camp, Jeremy encounters a new camper and discovers that the boy has lied about his background and life. Before long, Jeremy finds himself falling in love with the boy. When he discovers that another counselor is sexually abusing the boys, Jeremy finds himself implicated despite the fact that he has done nothing wrong. The novel also revolves around Jeremy's understanding of the two very different social structures of the camp and Amish communities, and their unique brands of socialization that can lead to redemption. "Throughout Avoidance, Jeremy is obsessed with the idea of belonging and not belonging," wrote Martin Wilson in Lambda Book Report. "He realizes how the choices we make in life ripple outward as well as inward. At the end of the novel, when all of his actions and decisions are irreversible, he still doesn't know if his decisions were the right ones, and nor do the readers."
In her review of Avoidance in the Library Journal, Caroline M. Hallsworth called the novel "at times haunting and disturbing," adding later that it "is not to be missed." Other critics also praised the author for his handling of multifaceted issues and states of mind. A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the novel's "different elements form a rich, complex narrative that is as inspiring as it is thought provoking."
In his historical novel Charity Girl, Lowenthal tells the story of the World War I internment of 15,000 American women because they had venereal disease. The novel revolves around Frieda Mintz, a seventeen-year-old Jewish girl who has fled an arranged marriage and is in love with all the latest happenings, from silent films to the Chaplin wiggle dance craze. She is also interested in boys, which leads to an encounter with a soldier who gives her a venereal disease. This leads to Frieda being accused of prostitution, and eventually she is interned in a camp, where she meets a variety of women, including prostitutes. The story describes Frieda's hardships and growth as she suffers the hard life at the camp.
A Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that Charity Girl is "rich in period detail, swift-paced prose and deserved political outrage." Maureen Neville, writing in the Library Journal, commented that the author "writes in a tempo that keeps this a spirited and exciting story." Reviewers also praised Lowenthal's depiction of Frieda. For example, a Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that the author "ably captures the transformation of a naive adolescent into a woman in his provocative story." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Elizabeth Gaffney noted: "Lowenthal's narrative style is perfect for a heroine who suffers but remains a survivor, striking just the right mix of dark and light, worldly and innocent. Providing Frieda with flickers of humor and joy, he guarantees her our sympathy."
Among the many anthologies that Lowenthal has served as editor or coeditor of is Flesh and the Word 3: An Anthology of Gay Erotic Writing, which the author edited with John Preston. In a review in Publishers Weekly, a contributor wrote: "The collection successfully includes varieties of class and sexuality." Lowenthal took on sole editorial duties for Flesh and the Word 4: Beyond Porn, which features all true stories as opposed to the fictional creations featured in the three previous volumes in the series. A Publishers Weekly contributor noted that the anthology is successful "not only as an erotic anthology but also as a sociological snapshot of contemporary gay male sexual consciousness." As editor of Friends and Lovers: Gay Men Write about the Families They Create, Lowenthal presents gay writers writing about their love lives and families. Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, called the anthology "a worthwhile addition to popular gay studies."
Lowenthal also served as editor of the late John Preston's Winter's Light: Reflections of a Yankee Queer, which features autobiographical sketches, essays and tributes focusing primarily on the acceptance of homosexuality. Gay Men at the Millennium: Sex, Spirit, Community is a collection of essays edited by the author and focusing on an examination of various aspects of gay life. Richard Violette, writing in the Library Journal commented that "the opinions expressed are mostly thoughtful, sometimes provocative, and never dull." Lowenthal presents a variety of recollections in Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Gay Erotic Memoirs. Lambda Book Report contributor David May noted that the book "is ultimately one of the more satisfying collections of sexual writing it has been my pleasure to read."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Advocate, August 31, 1999, Robert L. Pela, review of Obsessed: A Flesh and the Word Collection of Gay Erotic Memoirs, p. 75.
Booklist, April 15, 1995, Ray Olson, review of Friends and Lovers: Gay Men Write about the Families They Create, p. 1457; August, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of The Same Embrace, p. 1966; November 1, 2006, Marta Segal Block, review of Charity Girl, p. 29.
Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide, November-December, 2002, Marshall Moore, review of Avoidance, p. 47.
Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2002, review of Avoidance, p. 1254; September 15, 2006, review of Charity Girl, p. 925.
Lambda Book Report, September-October, 1995, Lawrence Schimel, review of Flesh and the Word 3: An Anthology of Gay Erotic Writing, p. 46; September, 1998, Judith Katz, review of The Same Embrace, p. 25; July-August, 1999, David May, review of Obsessed, p. 27; July, 2001, Martin Wilson, "More than I Asked For," includes discussion of author and writing, p. 29; October, 2002, Martin Wilson, review of Avoidance, p. 37.
Library Journal, September 15, 1997, Richard Violette, review of Gay Men at the Millennium: Sex, Spirit, Community, p. 92; October 1, 2002, Caroline M. Hallsworth, review of Avoidance, p. 128; January 1, 2007, Maureen Neville, review of Charity Girl, p. 96.
New York Times Book Review, February 4, 2007, Elizabeth Gaffney, review of Charity Girl, p. 18.
New York Times, January 20, 2007, Dinitia Smith, review of Charity Girl, p. B7.
Publishers Weekly, April 3, 1995, review of Friends and Lovers, p. 51; May 8, 1995, review of Flesh and the Word 3, p. 292; July 17, 1995, review of Winter's Light: Reflections of a Yankee Queer, p. 212; April 21, 1997, review of Flesh and the Word 4: Beyond Porn, p. 61; July 6, 1998, review of The Same Embrace, p. 49; April 5, 1999, review of Obsessed, p. 229; October 14, 2002, review of Avoidance, p. 63; September 11, 2006, review of Charity Girl, p. 32.
Michael Lowenthal Home Page,http://lowenthal.etherweave.com (April 11, 2007).
Nothing More Wonderful Blog,http://iread.wordpress.com/ (February 1, 2007), review of Charity Girl.
Philadelphia Inquirer Web site,http://www.philly.com/inquirer/ (March 18, 2007), Sarah Weinman, review of Charity Girl.