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Up with the Sun

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Through the curious life of Dick Kallman--a real-life celebrity striver, poisonously charming actor, and eventual murder victim--the unforgiving worlds of postwar showbiz and down-low gay sexuality are thrown into stark relief.

Dick Kallman was an up-and-coming actor in the fifties and sixties--until he wasn't. A costar on Broadway, a member of Lucille Ball's historic Desilu workshop, and finally a primetime TV actor, Dick had hustled to get his big break. But just as soon as his star began to rise, his roles began to dry up and he faded from the spotlight, his name out of tabloids and newspapers until his sensational murder in 1980.

Through the eyes of his occasional pianist and longtime acquaintance Matt Liannetto, a tenderhearted but wry observer often on the fringes of Broadway's big moments, Kallman's life and death come into appallingly sharp focus. The actor's yearslong, unrequited love for a fellow performer brings out a competitive, vindictive edge in him. Whenever a new door opens, Kallman rushes unwittingly to close it. Even as he walks over other people, he can never get out of his own way.

As Matt pores over the life of this handsome could-have-been, Up With the Sun re-creates the brassy, sometimes brutal world that shaped Kallman, capturing his collisions with not only Lucille Ball, but an array of stars from Sophie Tucker to Judy Garland and Johnny Carson. Part crime story, part showbiz history, and part love story, this is a crackling novel about personal demons and dangerously suppressed passions that spans thirty years of gay life--the whole tumultuous era from the Kinsey Report through Stonewall and, finally, AIDS.

About the Author

THOMAS MALLON is the author of eleven novels, including Henry and Clara, Dewey Defeats Truman, Fellow Travelers, Watergate, and Landfall. He is a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, and other publications. In 2011 he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award for prose style. He has been the literary editor of GQ and the deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. He lives in Washington, D.C.

"Mallon's sparkling latest ... draws inspiration from real-life actor Dick Kallman's career on Broadway and television and his 1980 murder. . . . Peppering the juicy drama of Dick's ambition and unrequited love with pop cultural references, as well as cameos from Dyan Cannon and Kaye Ballard, Mallon creates a fascinating, page-turning tale. Readers will be swept off their feet."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Superb. . . . Fluidly written with well-realized characters, the novel is great gossipy fun to read. Film and theater buffs will be delighted."

"The author of a smart, tart series of political novels--most recently Landfall (2019)--casts an equally well-informed, unromantic eye on the entertainment industry and its closeted gay denizens. . . . Mallon acidly limns the ridiculous games gay actors were forced to play--dates with 'beards, ' fake engagements--in those pre-Stonewall days."
--Kirkus Reviews

"In this funny, vicious tale of ambition and moral corrosion, Thomas Mallon turns his rapier intelligence and seismographic sense of the workings of power to the worlds of Hollywood and Broadway. Among imperishable legends and declining stars, he chronicles desperate competition and half-open secrets, the longing for the next new thing and the lure of the past. Up With the Sun is a novel as stark as a Greek drama and as delicious as gossip."
--Garth Greenwell, author of Cleanness and What Belongs to You

"Thomas Mallon has been America's premier historical novelist for a decade. Up With the Sun cinches the accolade. It's New York City in the aching 80's. The murder of show-biz bottom feeder/monster Dick Kallman and his male lover ramifies throughout the turmoil of the decade--in a stunning hybrid of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities and frontline reports from a beleaguered gay demimonde. This book packs period pizzazz and heartbreaking intimacy. And, as always with Mallon--it's a page-turning blast."
--James Ellroy

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
Pub date: February 07, 2023
352 pages
Format: Hardcover