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Dreadful: The Short Life and Gay Times of John Horne Burns
by David Margolick

Now available from Other Press
Buy from: Amazon | BN.com | Indie Bound

“In his biography of John Horne Burns, the author of The Gallery, one of the great World War II novels, David Margolick has told a fascinating and uniquely American story: the destruction of a writer of first-rate talent by liquor and relentless social pressures arrayed against gay men at mid-century.”
—Louis Begley, author of Schmidt Steps Back

“A fascinating portrait of an heroically difficult character on a collision course with an indifferent world.”
—Jonathan Galassi, President of Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Dreadful is a poignant biography of a forgotten man who drank himself to death.  It's a brilliant evocation of a self-hating gay novelist in the 1940s whom Gore Vidal once considered a rival.”
—Edmund White

“Brilliantly explores and exposes the glories and tragedies of a now-forgotten great American writer. In carefully reconstructing Burns’s life and career, Margolick has uncovered the glamorous and often dark underbelly of post-war American literary and intellectual culture. Burns’s story is not so much about homophobia as it is about what it means to be an American artist and intellectual in the years after World War II. Beautifully written and filled with insight and empathy, Dreadful forces us to rethink not only American literary culture, but America itself.”
—Michael Bronski, Harvard University

“Extraordinary. David Margolick takes a once-famous novelist who's become a mysterious footnote in postwar American literature and brings him fully back to life....It's a powerful story, and Margolick tells it with great energy, humor and understanding.”
—Christopher Bram, author of Gods and Monsters and Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America

“The subject of Dreadful is a gifted writer of ultimately dissipated gifts, an unconventional intellectual in an age obsessed with conformity, and one of the great caustic, comic letter-writers of his time—a man to make Gore Vidal or Christopher Hitchens look judicious and mild-mannered. But David Margolick explores a raft of larger subjects as well in this engrossing book: what it meant to be gay in mid-twentieth-century America, the cost of sudden fame in a celebrity culture, the allure of postwar Italy, and the tragedy of the uncompromising loner. Likable, Burns wasn't—vivid and memorable, he is.”
—John Loughery, author of The Other Side of Silence: Men's Lives and Gay Identities, a Twentieth-Century History

“A revealing biography of the brilliant, arrogant author of The Gallery (1947), a celebrated World War II novel...a wonderfully crafter portrait of a tormented homosexual writer.”
Kirkus (starred review)

“Margolick's bio offers high drama, a window into pre-Stonewall gay literary life, and a cautionary tale about success, the war, and the closet.”
The Village Voice

“David Margolick carves out a breathtaking picture of the brilliant prodigy...This book, centering on the author that Gore Vidal considered a rival and whose work Ernest Hemingway praised as ‘wonderfully written,’ is less a biography than a portrait, completing a picture of Burns to the fullest extent with each new word.”

“Mr. Margolick is a stylish, insightful writer, particularly good at evoking the ethos of gay midcentury America.”
The Wall Street Journal