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Leading Men

(2019)
A novel by

 
 
'Movie stars in Italy, a longtime affair, and a missing Tennessee Williams play - what more could you want? A timeless and heartbreaking love story' Celeste Ng, author of Little Fires Everywhere


PORTOFINO, ITALY. JULY 1953
At a glittering party thrown by Truman Capote, literary sensation Tennessee Williams and his longtime lover Frank Merlo meet the enigmatic Anja Blomgren, an aspiring Swedish actress.

Their encounter will alter the course of their lives forever.

Spanning half a century and featuring a dazzling cast of characters - from Anna Magnani cooking pasta amatriciana in a sun-kissed kitchen in Rome, to Ludovico Visconti barking orders on his latest film set - Leading Men is a heart-breaking novel about life in the shadows of greatness, and a moving re-telling of one of the great literary love stories of the twentieth-century.

'Extraordinary... I read Leading Men in one rapt afternoon, and spent hours afterwards just stunned from having been immersed in such a tender, psychologically devastating, and gorgeously precise novel' Lauren Groff, author of Fates and Furies

'Blazing... casts a spell right from the start. To hold it in your hands is like holding a front-row opera ticket' Dwight Garner, New York Times


'I know of few books that give such a moving account of the indispensable value of genius and its intolerable human cost. This is a novel of rare insight and beauty, and Castellani is a writer of brilliant gifts' Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

'Seductive and steamy' Boston Globe
'Touching' Washington Post
'Dazzling' Entertainment Weekly
'Spectacular' Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Genre: Historical

Praise for this book

"Leading Men is a daredevil of a novel, like the prettiest boy in the gay bar doing a backflip off a stool and not spilling his drink. Castellani has set his eye on that ineffable profane that is the other face of the divine, in a novel that unites my obsessions with Tennessee Williams, Luchino Visconti, Truman Capote, film, cruising, and Italy, and wraps it up in a love story, but a story of old love--love of a kind we almost never see written." - Alexander Chee

"With extraordinary artistry and grace, Christopher Castellani interweaves history and invention to show us both the depths great artists are driven to and the love that draws them back. I know of few books that give such a moving account of the indispensable value of genius and its intolerable human cost. This is a novel of rare insight and beauty, and Castellani is a writer of brilliant gifts." - Garth Greenwell

"I read Christopher Castellani's Leading Men in one quiet, sunny, rapt afternoon, and spent hours afterwards just stunned from having been immersed in such a tender, psychologically devastating, and gorgeously precise novel. An extraordinary book." - Lauren Groff

"Leading Men is glorious, a meditation on the ravages of fame, an investigation into the private lives of public artists, and one of the most moving love stories I've read in ages. It's hard to imagine better company on the page than Tennessee Williams and those who loved and loathed him. By bringing to life these literary visionaries, Christopher Castellani proves himself their eminently worthy heir." - Anthony Marra

"Leading Men is a novel as moving as it is entertaining, a book that restored my faith in the old cliche that only through fiction -- by exploring the possibilities of what might have happened -- can we reach the truth. Christopher Castellani has written an astounding novel of great imaginative empathy that, by the end, had this cynic weeping." - Peter Orner

"With echoes of Tender is the Night and The Sun Also Rises, Leading Men tells the extraordinary love story of Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo. Castellani elegantly weaves together Merlo's final days with memories of a dramatic (and delicious) Italian summer in 1953 that changes his world forever. Throw in an aging Swedish actress, Truman Capote, Italian cinema and the staging (and script!) of a lost Williams play and you have all the ingredients for a literary page-turner. Leading Men is about fame and love and forgiveness, about the ravages of time, and how we try to lay claim to the future, while the present slips through our fingers." - Hannah Tinti

"Leading Men stirs up the kind of beautiful trouble we admire in the work of Tennessee Williams. A clever, allusive, multi-layered novel filled with wit, insight, and heart. I loved it." - Justin Torres


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Used availability for Christopher Castellani's Leading Men

Hardback Editions

May 2019 : USA Library Binding

Title: Leading Men (Thorndike Press Large Print Core Series)
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
ISBN: 1-4328-6460-2 / 978-1-4328-6460-6 (USA edition)
Publisher: Thorndike Press Large Print
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


February 2019 : USA Hardback
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Title: Leading Men: A Novel
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
ISBN: 0-525-55905-1 / 978-0-525-55905-4 (USA edition)
Publisher: Viking
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


Paperback Editions

June 2019 : UK Paperback
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Title: Leading Men: 'A timeless and heart-breaking love story' Celeste Ng
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
ISBN: 1-4746-1354-3 / 978-1-4746-1354-5 (UK edition)
Publisher: W&N
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   


February 2019 : Paperback
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Title: Leading Men: A Novel
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
ISBN: 1-984877-64-X / 978-1-984877-64-2
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Availability: Amazon AU   


Audio Editions

February 2019 : USA Audio edition
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Title: Leading Men: A Novel
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon   


February 2019 : Canada Audio edition
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Title: Leading Men: A Novel
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Availability: Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

March 2019 : Australia, UK Kindle edition
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Title: Leading Men: 'A timeless and heart-breaking love story' Celeste Ng
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


February 2019 : USA, Canada Kindle edition
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Title: Leading Men: A Novel
Author(s): Christopher Castellani
Publisher: Viking
Availability: Amazon   Amazon CA