The first part of my memoir—what I see as Volume 1—is about my growing up in the Bronx, and is centered around the year I dropped out of high school to become a painter and go to live in Paris. I never made it, at least not then.
It was in this year that I met the artist John Resko, a former twenty-year inmate of Dannermora and author of Reprieve, the memoir of his prison life and his rehabilitation. He became my mentor in literature and art and life, taking the place of my father, who had left our home when I was ten.
This is also the story of my wild teenage love for Faye, the "Bronx Elizabeth Taylor," and of my rivalry with Faye's other boyfriend, my contemporary, who would become a famous novelist and my life-long friend.
Resko pressed me to return to school, saying, "I have a high school equivalency degree and don’t want to hang out with dropouts." I finally graduated, took the entrance exams, and was accepted to the City College of New York, and my life out of the Bronx began. One day I would see Paris, but not as an artist, as a writer.
I'm also writing a series of personal essays; some are about my love affair when I was nineteen in Mexico City with "the Golden Girl," the famous exiled American prostitute of her day; my time crashing Hemingway’s house in Cuba a few months before Castro entered Havana; my two summers of team teaching in Tangiers with Paul Bowles; my friendships with the creator of Tintin, Georges Remi (Herge), and with the great film director, Alain Resnais; and my life in Mexico, Brazil, and in Paris.