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American Scholar

Patrick E. Horrigan

September 12, 2023

Patrick Horrigan’s novel, American Scholar (Lethe Press 2023) centers on James (Jimmy) Fitzgerald, who teaches American Literature at a prestigious university, is in a happy (open) marriage that allows him to enjoy a much younger boyfriend, and has just published a novel about literary critic, Harvard Professor of History and Literature, F.O. Matthiesen, who was forced to hide his love for artist Russell Cheney during a time before homosexual love and marriage were accepted. The sister of Jimmy’s first serious boyfriend shows up at a book signing for Jimmy’s new novel and hands him a letter that sends him spinning back to memories of the first man he ever loved. James describes his sexual awakening and recalls haunting moments with Gregory, whose self-destructive personality was part of Jimmy’s impetus for writing American Scholar. Horrigan’s novel, which weaves in the study of Queer Theory, Jimmy’s sexual awakening, and fears of the AIDS virus then sweeping across the globe. Horrigan whips back and forth from that difficult time to 2016, when his now middle-aged protagonist is now a professor and published author, but political polarization following the presidential election has inspired new fears throughout the gay community.

Born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania, Patrick E. Horrigan received his BA from The Catholic University of America and his PhD from Columbia University. He is the author of the novel Pennsylvania Station (Lethe Press; Indie Book Award finalist for best LGBTQ2 fiction) and the novel Portraits at an Exhibition (Lethe Press; winner of the Dana Award for fiction as well as the Mary Lynn Kotz Art-in-Literature Award, sponsored by the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts). His other works include the memoir Widescreen Dreams: Growing up Gay at the Movies (University of Wisconsin Press), the play Messages for Gary: A Drama in Voicemail, and (with Eduardo Leanez) the solo show “You Are Confused”! He has written artists’ catalogue essays for Thion’s LIMI-TATE: DRAWINGS OF LIFE AND DREAMS (cueB Gallery, London) and Ernesto Pujol’s LOSS OF FAITH (Galeria Ramis Barquet, New York). His essay “The Inner Life of Ordinary People” appears in Anthony Enns’ and Christopher R. Smit’s “Screening Disability: Essays on Cinema and Disability” (University Press of America). Horrigan and Eduardo Leanez are the hosts of “Actors with Accents”, a recurring variety show in Manhattan. Winner of Long Island University’s David Newton Award for Excellence in Teaching, he taught literature for twenty-five years at LIU Brooklyn. He has played the piano throughout his life and currently works as a tour guide at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he lives.

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