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Kyle Smith
Nearing fifty, author Kyle Thomas Smith looks back on the days when he was a struggling young writer and hapless office temp. At the end of yet another workday when all he wanted was to go back to his little apartment, turn into a cockroach, and expire in a puddle of Raid, Kyle instead went out on the town and met a highly accomplished, globetrotting filmmaker named François. A romance ensued, but François flew out the next morning, leaving Kyle with nothing but a napkin on which he’d written his address in Paris. Kyle wondered if this napkin could hold the key to his future, and what would his life be worth if he were to lose the napkin? In this slice-of-life memoir, Kyle Thomas Smith meditates on how tightly we cling to our prospects when the real gold is buried deep inside the life we already have.
In this art-centered memoir, Smith (author of Cockloft: Scenes from a Gay Marriage) shares his love of writing, bits of his marriage with his husband, Julius, and the insights he gleaned about himself through a chance meeting with a French film maker named François. Smith offers readers a quaint snapshot of his life as a young gay man learning about love, the growing pains of changing friendships, and the hardships of pursuing a career as a writer. Through his own penned letters to François—and then later to God—Smith bares his fears, attempts to manifest his dream job, and gains acceptance for “who and what are truly important in our lives.”

Smith's love for art culture is vividly depicted through anecdotes of his adolescent school years and trips to France. From the beginning, readers will surmise that the budding romance between François and Smith will be short-lived, yet Smith's reminiscence of his time in France—and their brief tryst—recounts the growth of a young man exploring the world and finding himself along the way. "Now that I’m about to turn 50, I’m inclined to ask myself, why bother saying anything about someone I knew for such a short period of time? Then I considered that I was young when I met François, and these encounters… have an immeasurable impact on our lives going forward," Smith writes.

Smith's search for acceptance from his family, friends, and potential love interests makes for a relatable and transparent memoir that readers will find as endearing as it is vulnerable. In finding daily inspiration through his writings, Smith passes on nuggets of wisdom and encouraging words to "survive the ordeal" that is life, in the process rediscovering joy in his day-to-day moments as well: "I had a new reason for writing these letters. I was falling in love with my own life," Smith muses.

Takeaway: Inspirational memoir that explores taking risks for love while finding one’s self.

Comparable Titles: James Baldwin's Giovanni's Room, Garrard Conley's Boy Erased.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A