Other books byJeffrey Lewis
Gender and Sexuality For Beginners
We should not need to prove our experiences, defend our realities, or negotiate basic human rights. But we do. What does sexual orientation mean if the very categories of gender are in question? How do we measure equality when our society's definitions of "male" and "female" leave out much of the population? There is no consensus on what a "real" man or woman is, where one's sex begins and ends, or what purpose the categories of masculine and feminine traits serve. While significant strides have been made in recent years on behalf of women's, gay and lesbian rights, there is still a large division between the law and day-to-day reality for LGBTQIA and female-identified individuals in American society. The practices, media outlets and institutions that privilege heterosexuality and traditional gender roles as "natural" need a closer examination. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners considers the uses and limitations of biology in defining gender. Questioning gender and sex as both categories and forms of compulsory identification, it critically examines the issues in the historical and contemporary construction, meaning and perpetuation of gender roles. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners interweaves neurobiology, psychology, feminist, queer and trans theory, as well as historical gay and lesbian activism to offer new perspectives on gender inequality, ultimately pointing to the clear inadequacy of gender categories and the ways in which the sex-gender system oppresses us all. Gender and Sexuality For Beginners examines the evolution of gender roles and definitions of sexual orientation in American society, illuminating how neither is as objective or "natural" as we are often led to believe.
Meritocracy is the story of a generation when it was young, caught at the moment when history arrived to exact a tragic and inevitable price. It is the end of the summer of 1966 and a small group of friends, recent Yale graduates, gather in a Maine summer cottage to say good-bye to one of their own. Harry Nolan is joining the Army and may be sent to Vietnam. Also present is Harry's beautiful young bride, Sascha. Harry and Sascha represent to their friends the apex of their generation. Sascha has men falling for her "up and down the eastern seaboard," and Harry, a rich and fearless Californian, son of a United States senator, has his friends convinced that he will one day be president. The story proceeds from the point-of-view of one of the friends, Louie, whose unspoken love for Sascha is like a worm that works its way through the narrative, cracking apart every innocent assumption. An aura of power, earned and unearned, assumed and desired, hangs over this Ivy League world. And it settles at last on Harry, who on this final weekend before his induction comes to understand a terrible paradox: if he's going into the Army simply to maintain his political viability, his action will dishonor his right to lead; but if he doesn't go, he will likely never have the chance. His wrestling with this paradox unleashes a spiral of events that becomes as fateful for all the characters as it is emblematic of the times they grew up in. In one sense, Meritocracy is a novel for the Al Gores and John Kerrys and George Bushes of today's America. But in a larger sense it is a book for all those of the postwar generation who have mourned the loss of their true "best and brightest," and who regret how the life of their nation, so brightly and hopefully imagined when they were young, and now entrusted to their care, has come to be diminished.
The Meritocracy Quartet
Having introduced an unprecedented realism to American television through his work as a writer and producer on Hill Street Blueswork which earned him two Emmys and a Writers' Guild AwardJeffrey Lewis's rich and complex relationship with American culture, upon which his writing has drawn deeply, required a new kind of telling. In an ambitious departure, Lewis conceived a series of four novels, each of which would follow the leaders of American culture through a decade of their lives. In so doing it would trace the very substance of America's contemporary history through its unfolding. The series is a sweeping meditation on his generation and where it has led America, from the sixties to the turn of the century. For the first time the four interlinking novelsMeritocracy: A Love Story, The Conference of the Birds, Theme Song for an Old Show, and Adam the Kingare published in a single volume. Set over four decades against the backdrop of changing American landscape, Lewis's characters sweep in and out of the narrative, reflecting the passage of time and the rise of different social-cultural ideals and influences. The four novels are a testament to America's changing personality, each seeking to define it for itself. For America is the central character and the quartet is the song of one generation passing through it, from the tragedy of wealth and potential to the search for meaning in a chaotic world and the highs and lows of celebrity. Each book is a life and a death, each a new start and a finality. The Meritocracy Quartet is a breathtaking panorama and an expression of how and why, but more than this, it is a story beautifully told.
Conference of Birds
The resonant sequel to Meritocracy: A Love Story It is the late '70s in Manhattan and God is dead. A group of people come together to explore the void left behind. Neither Buddhist nor Sufi nor Hindu nor New Age, but rather New York mongrels of the spiritual, as brash and defiant as their chaotic, bankrupt city, they embark on what seems like a journey described in a 12th century Persian poem. Among them are the shy and sweet-natured Bobby, a gifted cartoonist and the group's mascot; Maisie the acid-tongued rich girl who is fighting a two-front war, against mental instability and Hodgkin's disease; the narrator Louie, a very nearly accidental pilgrim torn between his friends and the purpose that has engulfed him; and the group's austere leader Joe, a saint to some, a pervert to others. Their impossible and youthful quest hurtles the group's members towards a destiny they cannot even imagine. Is it oblivion they seek, or remembrance? As the dramatic climax of their journey envelops them, distinctions between internal and external, heart and mind, word and silence, all collapse, rendering the world an ambiguous and mysterious place.