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Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation

We're thrilled to welcome Robert Fieseler to the shop to discuss his new book TINDERBOX: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation! Robert will appear in conversation with Owen Keehnen. A Q&A and book signing will follow the talk.

About the book:

(Adapted from W. W. Norton)

An essential work of American civil rights history, Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community.

Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. In revelatory detail, Robert W. Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno that destroyed an entire community. The aftermath was no less traumatic—families ashamed to claim loved ones, the Catholic Church refusing proper burial rights, the city impervious to the survivors’ needs—revealing a world of toxic prejudice that thrived well past Stonewall. Yet the impassioned activism that followed proved essential to the emergence of a fledgling gay movement. Tinderbox restores honor to a forgotten generation of civil-rights martyrs.

About the author:

Robert W. Fieseler is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing. A writer for The Big Roundtable, Narratively, and elsewhere, he lives in Boston.

About Owen Keehnen:

Owen Keehnen is a Chicago-based author, editor, activist, and LGBT historian. His articles have appeared in The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review and the New York Native among others.

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation By Robert W. Fieseler Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781631491641
Published: Liveright - June 5th, 2018

Event date: 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018 - 7:00pm to 8:00pm

Event address: 

Unabridged Books, Inc.
Chicago, IL 60657
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