Peter Birkenhead, author of the memoir, Gonville, is a regular contributor to Salon.com, where he writes personal essays and cultural criticism. He is also a contributor to Marie Claire, GQ, The Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.
As an actor, he has appeared extensively on stage and in dozens of TV series, including Law and Order, West Wing, and Six Feet Under. He also has performed in Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and David Mamet’s Speed-the-Plow. In parts of Gonville, Birkenhead recounts the first acting roles he had in his father’s Massachusetts summer-stock theater.
“I caught my father in glimpses, heard him in fragments,” Birkenhead writes in Gonville, a memoir about his troubled relationship with his father. “He was a collection of fleeting pieces and parts, and sometimes it seemed like each part was opposed to the next. He loved being The Man Who Won’t—the looks from other peaceniks when they saw his gun collection, or the cringing faces of the neighbors as they walked by our proudly unmowed, Addams Family crabgrass lawn.”
What Others Are Saying about Peter Birkenhead
“By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, Peter Birkenhead's Gonville is a son's-eye view of growing up with an emotional terrorist: his father. The memoir is a deft and cunning performance, told in jaunty prose which elegantly maps the geography of fear and of a child's sad little wish to be loved.”
—John Lahr, senior drama critic, The New Yorker
“In his debut memoir, Gonville, Peter Birkenhead breezily performs some of the most challenging creative magic. He mines insight from confusion, turns tragedy into comedy, and darkness into light.”
—Evan Handler, actor and author of Time on Fire and It’s Only Temporary