Goldring, Steven Henry. “Unbelievable”, Dog Ear Publishing, 2010.
And It Is…Unbelievable
It is interesting that many of my reviews have back stories and “Unbelievable” shares that as well. I came upon the book by chance when I went to the Lambda Literary site to see which books have been submitted for this year’s competition and which of those I have not read. I came upon “Unbelievable” and then googled it to see what I could find out. I was surprised and pleasantly so to learn that it is the story of a Jewish gay man and I knew that I would have to get a copy. We must all be thankful for Facebook as it gives us the chance to find people and there I found the author, contacted him and not only did he send me the book but an accompanying CD to read by (with his original music) and in the process I made a new friend.
Steven Henry Goldring grew up in Orrville, Ohio which is not exactly the place where one would find a Jew, especially a gay Jew. I immediately identified with him since I am in another Jewish and gay wilderness, Arkansas. Most of us or, at least, familiar with Little Rock but who has ever heard of Orrville? Goldring’s family was the only Jewish family there (at least he was not burdened with Hebrew school like I was) and of course this had a direct influence on his life. Steven came out to his family (and I imagine the population of Orrville, as well). He is very lucky to have such supportive parents and his coming out story is wonderful. They accepted him and were understanding, unlike so many horror stories we have heard. For most of us who live in urban centers it is hard to imagine what it is like to come out in a small town where everyone knows everything about everyone.
Steven had a sense of wanderlust and traveled from Orrville to California and New York. Finally he came back to Ohio after having been diagnosed with AIDS and he wanted to be near his family when his time came and in the process became very close to his rabbi, David M. Horowitz now president of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (Pflag).
Steven’s life has been a combination of good and bad and in that sense he is like everyone else but above all else we see his independence, his desire to always be who he is and it is that honesty that permeates his memoir. His honesty is sometimes blunt and brutal, he does not mince words yet we feel something else in his writing and that is the sense of sadness he has been carrying with him since his diagnosis of HIV. His talent knows no bounds—he is a songwriter, a lyricist, a playwright and a screenwriter. His life has been truly unbelievable.
Steven’s attempt at breaking into the acting community is one of the strong sections of the book. He was told not to return to the acting school where he studied and immediately went in search of an acting job. He ended up with a couple of walk-ons and a job in publishing. So, he decided on a new strategy—-to become a club singer. And a funny thing happened on the way to that career—he met Joan Rivers and he eventually opened for her. Then there was that HIV diagnosis in 1991 but that did not stop him. He and a friend wrote a one man show, “And Now for My Next Life” and then went to other adventures, one including Barbra Streisand. BY 1995 his life took yet another turn, he quit his job……………..I am giving too much away…….. and eventually moved back to Ohio. That is all I am going to say about the contents of the book. I hoped I have made you curious enough to make you go out and get a copy. There is plenty more to read about and you should…you must. It is rare to have this much talent between the covers of a single book—it is not only Goldring’s story but we get his song lyrics as well.
This is an easy read and I say that positively. Because Goldring’s story is so compelling, you do not want to stop reading it and I actually finished it in one sitting. But no matter because I am going back to read it again and probably again and again. It is written from the heart and the author comes across as an epic character who is larger than life itself. It is an unbelievable story that becomes totally believable and has you asking for more. Not many books do that to me and this book is something special. It gets my highest recommendation.