L is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir
The Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave, Room 1218, Manhattan)
L is for Lion is an achingly true story of a Bronx tomboy whose 1960s girlhood was marked by her WWII veteran father’s lullabies laced with dissociative visions of trench warfare. At eighteen, on the edge of freedom, Annie Rachel Lanzillotto’s studies at Brown University were halted by the growth of a massive tumor inside her chest. She walked out of Sloan-Kettering just as A.I.D.S. was named, and made a wild, truth-seeking ride out of survival, going into the fray of gay clubs and cross-dressing on the streets of Egypt. This poignant and authentic story could only happen in New York, with this quintessential New Yorker as narrator and guide into the world of Italian-American characters, immigration, gay subculture, cancer, mental illness, gender dynamics, drug addiction, domestic violence, and the childhood wonder of Spaldeens — all climaxing in a reluctant return home to the timeless wisdom of her peasant grandmother.