Denial: My 25 Years Without a Soul

A young boy sitting on a piano bench realizes one day that he will never marry. At the time this seems merely a simple, if odd, fact, but as his attraction to boys grows stronger, he is pulled into a vortex of denial. Not just for one year or even ten, but for 25 years, he lives in an inverted world, a place like a photographic negative, where love is hate, attraction is envy, and childhood never ends. He comes to think of himself as a kind of monster—until one day, seemingly miraculously, the world turns itself upright and the possibility of love floods in.

Equal parts Oliver Sacks and George Orwell, with a dash of Woody Allen, Jonathan Rauch’s memoir is by turns harrowing and funny, a grippingly intimate journey through a bizarre maze of self-torment that ends with an unexpected discovery. Many people, gay and straight, have lived through their own versions of this story, seeking to twist their personality in directions it just wouldn’t go. Not all have been lucky enough to escape.

First published in 2013, Denial has been revised for this new edition, which includes a new afterword by the author.

Jonathan Rauch is the author of seven books and the winner of the National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. A senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing writer for The Atlantic, he lives in northern Virginia with his husband.

“I just finished reading Denial, which is powerful in a way I can’t really describe because I don’t think I’ve ever read another book remotely like it. I’m glad we live in a different country now.” —Charles Lane, author of The Day Freedom Died

"At first I thought someone was narrating my life. Once I started this morning, even though I pulled an all night shift I couldn’t put it down and finished in one sitting. The story was very inspiring and gives me hope for my newfound life." —B.R.

"I could have avoided years of painful emotional and mental gymnastics had I read your book as a young man. You have no doubt helped many gay people as they work thru becoming who they are meant to be." —M.R.

"I simply want to THANK YOU for writing this book. The first chapter had me in tears almost instantly. Except for all the pronouns and genders being opposite, I feel like it describes how I felt about myself exactly." —R.J.


Blogs and books