Brad Gooch: From the Daily News to Godtalk

Not all of the people I wrote about in my 1979 “Some Young Writers I Admire” article were my friends. Although I’ve sometimes seen Brad Gooch around town – I think the first time I noticed him was in the early ‘70s at the GAA Firehouse, where he seemed embarrassed as a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet tried to pick him up – I’ve had only a few conversations with him, the last during a car ride over Biscayne Bay during the 1993 Miami Book Fair International, where I was appearing for the anthology Mondo Barbie and he was promoting his biography City Poet: The Life and Times of Frank O’Hara.

Back in 1977, though, I was the first person to review Brad Gooch’s first book of poetry, The Daily News — for Charles Plymell’s small press review magazineNortheast Rising Sun. The Daily News was published by Kenward Elmslie‘s ‘s Z Press, an outgrowth of Z, the litmag at the St. Marks Poetry Project, and I was knocked out by its initial sonnet sequence and the other terrific poems in the book.

Since then, Brad’s had an amazingly eclectic publishing career. He’s an English professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey and writes for Travel + Leisure, Harper’s Bazaar, The New Republic, and Vanity Fair. Still living in New York City, he’s published several novels, short story collections, biographies, advice books and volumes of carefully-researched journalism.

Among his many books are Golden Age of Promiscuity, Scary Kisses and Finding the Boyfriend Within. (I especially have taken the last book to heart, as I’m dating myself with these posts.)

For a long time now, Brad’s had far more impressive boosters than I. Commenting on Brad’s last book, Godtalk, Gore Vidal wrote, “On so hot a subject as religion in America, Brad Gooch is as serenely cool as Tocqueville was on an equally hot subject, democracy in America; and as irresistibly readable.”

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