BOOK REVIEW: WALT ODETS – OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Today, it’s a review of an outstanding non-fiction book, Out Of The Shadows by Walt Odets.

I love a good non-fiction book but I don’t really tend to go towards the more academic/psychology books but when I saw this one online, I knew I had to get a copy. It’s Out of The Shadows by Walt Odets. But first… what’s it about? Here’s the synopsis:

Even in our modern progressive world, it’s not easy to be a gay man. While young men often come out more readily, even those from the most liberal of backgrounds still struggle to accept themselves and experience stigma, shame and difficulties with intimate relationships. They also suffer from ongoing trauma wrought by the AIDS epidemic, something that is all too often relegated to history.

Drawing on a lifetime’s work as a clinical psychologist, Walt Odets uses the stories of his patients as well as those of his own deep relationships with other gay men to illuminate how these difficulties may be overcome. From a 74-year-old who only felt able to come out after his wife had died, to the boy raised in a strict religious family who worked his way to San Francisco, to the middle-aged defence lawyer who left everything behind to embrace a new life, the experiences here explore everything from grief to survival, childhood pain to the definition of gay itself.

Out of the Shadows shows us how a new way forward is possible through learning to accept ourselves and others as they are, and independently inventing our own lives.

To put it mildly: I can’t express how much I loved this book. This is a book where I was completely absorbed with – I couldn’t put it down, I couldn’t stop underlining everything, putting post-it notes on every page because it’s just so bloody good. It got me from the introduction alone. I don’t think I’ve had this experience with a book as good as this one.

Out of The Shadows is a work of non-fiction from Walt Odets who is a psychologist and he uses the stories of his patients as well as his own personal relationships with other gay men and shows the difficulties to overcome. There are wide and ranging stories in the book and they all had a profound impact on me when reading.

The book explores shame, stigma, love, broken families, race, religion, and most importantly, the trauma by the AIDS epidemic which is a big thread that runs throughout the book and in the different stories. It also explores the legacy of generations and looking into the new and young generation of gay men today. Where there is a lot of emotion, trauma, heartbreak, pain in the stories, there is a glimmer of hope and to learn to accept who we are and to live your life and your story.

“Young gay men can and must find ways to allow themselves to sing. All the diverse forms that true gay life has improved constitute a special universe that should not be relinquished to meet the expectations of a pathological society. In that universe lies something wonderful: men in love who have discovered themselves and, by their own invention, are among the splendors of human life on earth.”

Walt Odets is a tender, insightful writer from the very first page until the last. Like I’ve said, I don’t think I’ve underlined a book so much in my life. As a gay man, it had a profound impact on me and I just know it is going to be a book I will turn to again and again. I can’t recommend it enough.

A fascinating, diverse, intelligent, emotional, hopeful read that I just adored. Have you read Out of The Shadows? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you,

Corey.

 

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