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Published in: March-April 2020 issue.


In the Shadow of the Bridge
by Joseph Caldwell
Delphinium Books. 198 pages, $24.



ON MAY 25, 1959, Joseph Caldwell was walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at dawn on his way to his tenement apartment in lower Manhattan. So begins his memoir In the Shadow of the Bridge. From this scene, Caldwell moves back and forth in time to tell the story of his Irish Catholic childhood in Milwaukee, his move to New York at age 21 in 1950, his friendships in the “secret society” of gay New Yorkers who shared a love of opera, ballet, and above all books. At the center of these reflections is the man he met that dawn on the bridge, his first—and possibly only—lover.

            Caldwell’s friends included James Baldwin, who had just published Go Tell It on the Mountain and was not yet famous.

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 Daniel Burr is assistant dean at the U. of Cincinnati College of Medicine.


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