In 1964, Chuck Rosenthal was a thirteen year old boy whose dream was to make his grade school basketball team. Never Let Me Go tells the true story of how a college professor who coached grade school basketball as a hobby became the man who held that dream in his hands; became Rosenthal's coach and his mentor; how he made Rosenthal his student, his confidant, and eventually his sexual partner, and how that teenager, trapped in the cycle of loyalty, betrayal, denial, secrecy and abuse, found the inner resources to escape and take the first steps toward adulthood.
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Chuck Rosenthal is the author of six published novels: Loop's Progress, Experiments with Life and Deaf, Loop's End, Elena of the Stars, Jack Kerouac's Avatar Angel, and My Mistress, Humanity. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines including California Quarterly, New Kent Quarterly, Minotaur, Quarterly West, Hayden's Ferry Review, Chicago Review, Western Humanities Review, Santa Monica Review, High Performance, Denver Quarterly, See, Volt, 88, the Norton Anthology of Flash Fiction, and the Dove-Penguin anthology Absolute Disaster. He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and the PEN West Literary Award. His screenplay Cowboys and Angels was a finalist for the Sundance Institute. He has read and lectured at numerous universities and appeared on radio and television nationally and internationally. He is the fiction editor for the Los Angeles Review and teaches narrative writing and theory for the Syntext program at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.From Publishers Weekly:
While accounts of childhood sexual abuse have become depressingly pervasive, Rothenthal's bildungsroman is so remarkable that it transcends its tell-all genre. A prolific novelist (My Mistress, Humanity, etc.), Rosenthal was 13 when he entered into a relationship with his basketball coach that began as an intense, tough-love mentorship and escalated, through "physical therapy sessions," into sex by inexorable degrees. What is so remarkable about his memoir, aside from its stunning honesty and its total refusal of self-indulgence, is the complex picture it paints of Dan Callahan, Rosenthal's coach, mentor, friend, confidant and abuser. A college history professor with a passion for the classics, Callahan is erudite, intelligent and appallingly self-deluded. His heightened understanding of others, matched with an absolute inability to recognize his own predatory motivations, makes him a masterful manipulator. It allows him to elevate his relationship with Rosenthal to a higher Aristotelian plane of idealized friendship, a friendship involving "the love of a man for a boy, the love of a mentor, erudite and wise, for an exceptional boy." Callahan assumes this role of altruistic mentor so totally that the horror one feels witnessing a boy's seduction, manipulation and abuse becomes strangely allayed by Rosenthal's eventual (and genuine) love for this man, and by their enduring friendship, even after Rosenthal has recognized Callahan for what he is. The book proper spans some eight years, and we watch Rosenthal's coming of age, the ways in which he comes to understand his abuse and the ways in which it permanently shapes him, with a sense of helpless inevitability. Rosenthal's writing, transparent and wholly unobtrusive, belies the tangled complexity of this relationship, and makes for an engrossing, disturbing and enlightening read.
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