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Blue Days, Black Nights: A Memoir Paperback – October 1, 2005

18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Having lived with psychological scars since childhood, screenwriter Nyswaner (Philadelphia; Soldier's Girl) recounts his struggles in this searing memoir. After writing the Oscar-nominated Philadelphia, he was still tortured by emotional problems and turned to alcohol and drugs. As Nyswaner shuttles between Hollywood script meetings and caring for his ailing parents, his only source of pleasure is Johann, a cold-hearted male hustler who dominates him sexually and emotionally. Eventually, Nyswaner's obsession with Johann merges with his insatiable desire for drugged oblivion, leading him into a dangerous addiction. With unsparing honesty, Nyswaner conjures the sensation of a crystal meth high and the ensuing paranoia. His explicit accounts of sex with Johann aren't titillating, but rather tinged with the yearning for submission that Nyswaner so desperately craves. Finally hitting rock bottom after the death of a loved one and contemplating suicide, Nyswaner ends his drug dependency, although he doesn't tell readers how he did it. Did the "meetings" Nyswaner's therapist convinced him to attend finally work? Although the book is a compelling journey through the world of male prostitution and drug abuse, Nyswaner's recovery remains a mystery.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Move over, Holly Golightly! Capote's memorable prostitute-with-a-heart-of-gold has an unlikely heir apparent. Johann, wrapped in storm-trooper drag and a seemingly impermeable shell of mastery, contempt, and control, softened with a soupcon of caring, is, as screenwriter Nyswaner (best known for Philadelphia) presents him, oddly endearing. For Johann's professional strictures against lip-kissing, caressing--really, any sort of intimacy-- were perverse turn-ons for the smitten, eternally curious Nyswaner. In this thoroughly engaging, never self-pitying memoir of his passionate love for the man he only thought he knew, Nyswaner recounts his dissolute indulgence in drugs, drink, and hustlers, revealing a self-destructive lifestyle of which hunky Johann is only a part. Some may turn away from the book's graphic, but always compelling, scenes of drug use, self-degradation, and mutilation, but others may take comfort in the fact that someone so deeply sunk in a cycle of despair and destruction bounced back to tell his tale. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Advocate Books (October 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555839193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555839192
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,456,090 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ron Nyswaner's writing and producing career has taken him from independent films to breakthrough Hollywood dramas, award winning television movies, and, most recently, two hit cable television series. His credits include one of the most memorable and influential Hollywood dramas of recent times, PHILADELPHIA; a critically acclaimed and controversial cable television film, SOLDIER'S GIRL; the romantic drama, THE PAINTED VEIL, with Naomi Watts and Edward Norton; and the upcoming, gay-marriage themed FREEHELD, starring Julianne Moore and Ellen Page. His first documentary feature, SHE'S THE BEST THING IN IT, will play throughout 2015 in film festivals around the country. After two seasons as Writer/Co-Executive Producer on Showtime's hit series, RAY DONOVAN, he is now a Writer/Co-Executive Producer on the eagerly awaited Season Five of the compelling CIA drama, HOMELAND.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By turtlex on October 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase

"Blue Days, Black Nights: A Memoir" is Ron Nyswaner first published book. And an excellent one, at that.

His name may sound familiar as he is the Academy Award nominated screenwriter of the film "Philadelphia". This is not, however, a star filled, tell-all Hollywood tale. Quite to the contrary. This is a human story, told with brutal honesty.

Following the critical and commercial success of "Philadelphia", Mr. Nyswaner went through a personal time of turmoil and pain.

This excellent autobiography tells that story; an inner story of pain and guilt, as much as an autobiography about living in a time when not all the answers are as cut and dry as we might like. Where children become parents to their parents, where love has a price tag, where feeling good can be purchased, but being happy and content cannot.

Written with clear language and daring insight, this book was a real page-turner for me.

The story begins with an ending, and it's not giving away anything to say that this is a brilliant way to begin this journey with Mr. Nyswaner.

And it is a journey, of the heart and soul, into addiction, of both the mind and body. The fact that Mr. Nyswaner came out on the other side of such a traumatic time in his life and has been able to write about it, speaks volumes about human spirit, about coping and loving.

This autobiography covers so many topics, but does not feel preachy or forced.

It is a genuine look into a world most of us will never visit.

It's an excellent read, and highly recommended.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Charles S. Houser on March 24, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
These memoirs by a talented screenwriter sometimes read like an implausible and unsellable film script. Nyswaner is so honest about his personal tragedies, disappointments, and shortcomings, it is hard to believe this self-awareness was so hard-won. He has the humble wisdom of someone who has managed to find grace in some of life's most graceless circumstances. His success as a film writer is back-story. How he as a small-town boy from a working class western Pennsylvania family achieved this success is not really explained. This is really the story of his descent into a personal hell of alcoholism, drug addiction, depression, self-loathing, and suicidal despair...and of his eventual recovery. If his recovery is not exactly phoenix-like, it will strike readers who have been through similar experiences as authentic. Nyswaner is, after all, an accomplished writer. He is no sloganeer or New Age spiritual salesman. His story ends not with blissful optimism, but on a note of cautious but grounded hope.

At the heart of his life's story is his journey toward love. And key to what he learns about this powerful human experience is his relationship with a prostitute he knew as Johann. BLUE DAYS, BLACK NIGHTS begins with Nyswaner's account of Johann's funeral, so it is not "spoiling the plot" to say Johann dies tragically and prematurely and that his death is a pivotal moment in Nyswaner's journey. Nyswaner does not glamorize or vilify Johann's life as a prostitute, nor does he describe it in patronizing terms. It may be hard for some readers to believe that what Nyswaner felt for Johann could accurately be described as love. And it's clear that Nyswaner himself shares in such incredulousness.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By preppyesque on November 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
As a middle-aged gay man myself in the throes of a self-destructive meth and coke habit, this book hit very close to home. Actually I read it during a long party of partying with meth (since I wasn't going to sleep, I had to do something). Books like this always catch my eye, ever since Elizabeth Wurtzel's "Prozac Nation"...maybe because I struggle with addiction myself, I can certainly relate to everything in this book, except for maybe the hiring the hustler part. I've had more than my share of lost weeks and weekends with beautiful strangers, and have gone through many of the same situations, which are both horrifying and enlightening. I don't view books like this entirely as entertainment...I think there is a message as well. For me, that message is unfortunately too close to home, though I enjoyed the read very much. I highly recommend this book, and can only hope this is also made into a movie.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Clint Catalyst on December 27, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Through prose tight as the zip lock on so many glassine baggies, all at once this tale of crystal meth and cash for sex turns into a love story. The search for affection, the search for connection with self--this memoir from a prominent gay Hollywood screenwriter proves that sometimes the personal life of an author is more compelling than the works of fiction he creates.

Thanks to Ron Nyswaner for sharing himself with the reader(s). _Blue Days, Black Nights_ is my favorite book of the year!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Bowers on November 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My hat is off to screenwriter Ron Nyswaner who makes a sterling debut as a novelist here. He has written a breakthrough book. He gives us a picture of gay life that is open and without anguish, is informative, liberating, and most importantly one not just for the gay reader. This reader, who happens to be straight and whose love life has never been a bed of roses, found this book fascinating, one not to put down once picked up. It has a universal theme, that of obsessive love, an update, complete with drugs, of Of Human Bondage by Maugham. The characters jump off the page. They are as memorable as any you'll find. The days may be blue, the nights black, but Nyswaner makes you laugh while the misery unfolds.
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