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My 25 Years Without a Soul

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A young boy sitting on a piano bench realizes one day that he will never marry. At the time, this seems merely a simple, if odd, fact, but as his attraction to boys grows stronger, he is pulled into a vortex of denial. Not just for one year or even 10, but for 25 years, he lives in an inverted world, a place like a photographic negative, where love is hate, attraction is envy, and childhood never ends. He comes to think of himself as a kind of monster—until one day, seemingly miraculously, the world turns itself upright and the possibility of love floods in.

Equal parts Oliver Sacks and George Orwell, with moments of Woody Allen, Jonathan Rauch’s memoir of his “inversion” is by turns harrowing and funny, a grippingly intimate journey through a bizarre maze of self-torment that ends with an unexpected discovery. Many people, gay and straight, have lived through their own versions of this story, seeking to twist their personality in directions it just won’t go. Not all have been lucky enough to escape.


Jonathan Rauch first drafted this book, years ago, strictly for himself, to make a personal record of his “life without a soul.” After hesitating for years to publish it, he was inspired to do so partly by the redemptive power of his own marriage, to a man—the marriage he thought he could never have. The author of five books (including Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America) and a National Magazine Award winner, Rauch has been writing for The Atlantic since 1989. 


"Heart-rending and heart-warming: a touchingly intimate memoir that will move everyone, gay or straight, who has yearned for a love they do not understand." —David Frum, author and contributing editor at Newsweek/Daily Beast.

“Every gay person will recognize his own journey—the longing, the regret, the isolation, and one hopes, the eventual peace. A wrenching story that all of us, gay or not, can appreciate, Denial shows what it is like to be ‘different’ in a world that demands sameness.” 
—Dale Carpenter, author of Flagrant Conduct: The Story of Lawrence v. Texas 

Denial is the debut release from The Atlantic Books, a long-form digital imprint of The Atlantic.

Customer Reviews

Sense at the last

We're it not for the last sentence, I would have found this a very self-involved, teetering, reminiscence. That last sentence made it, if not worthwhile, at least forgivable in a sweet and melancholic way.

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  • $1.99
  • Available on iPad, iPhone and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: May 07, 2013
  • Publisher: The Atlantic books
  • Seller: Atlantic Monthly Group, Inc.
  • Print Length: 41 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Version: 1.0
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, or an iPad with iBooks 2 or later and iOS 5 or later, an iPhone with iOS 8.4 or later, or a Mac with OS X 10.9 or later.

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