A Passionate Engagement is both a love story and a story of political activism. In this remarkable memoir, Ken Harvey (award-winning author of If You Were With Me Everything Would Be All Right) reveals his own experience of coming out as a gay man, of meeting and falling in love with the man who would become his husband, and of growing into a social and political activist. Much of the story is filled with the kind of sensitive writing that Harvey demonstrated in his earlier work, but this book also shows a different side as he moves from the fictional to non-fictional, as he puts himself bluntly in the middle of the conflict. As the book progresses, the reader moves with Harvey from outside observer to inside participant of the political struggle for same-sex marriage. His shift is significant, and a reader can’t help but be moved along with him. This is a timely and important book, one that puts a truly human face onto this important social movement.
“POWERFUL”and “MOVING” –The Boston Sunday Globe
“a seamless fusion of politics and the personal…” — Philadelphia Gay News
“With this memoir, (Harvey) not only speaks for himself, but gives voice to each person still searching for a native tongue.” –V. Jo Hsu, Green Mountains Review
Selected for the American Library Association’s Rainbow Book List. Chosen by WGBH’S GREATER BOSTON as a SUMMER READ
Ken Harvey’s work has been published in over 20 literary magazines His book of short stories, IF YOU WERE WITH ME EVERYTHING WOULD BE ALL RIGHT (Pleasure Boat Studio, 2000), won the Violet Quill Award for Best Gay Fiction of the Year and was named one of the “twenty books of note” by The Lambda Literary Review. The book was also translated into Italian and received enthusiastic reviews in Italy. One of the stories in the collection was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Ken has read his work on On Point, a program on National Public Radio, and is a frequent book reviewer for Edge Publications. When not working on his own writing, he teaches a fiction-writing workshop in Cambridge, MA. He lives in Boston and Toronto with his husband. For more on Ken Harvey, as well as upcoming events and teaching, http://www.kenharvey.net
Adelo Brito, EDGE San Francisco –
In A Passionate Engagement, Ken Harvey, short story writer and winner of the Violet Quill Award, tells his story of coming out as a gay man, making a life with his future husband, and becoming a political activist. Harvey’s memoir shows how his personal life developed along with the State of Massachusetts victory against the same-sex marriage ban. It was interesting to learn all the steps in Massachusetts historic battle for equality…. This is a very timely story about a truly important social movement. Reading about Harvey going from observer to a fighting advocate for same-sex marriage offers hope to the reader – the hope that other states will follow Massachusetts in allowing the right for every individual to marry the person he or she loves. This book is a pretty quick read and one that will stay with the reader for a while.
Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order –
There’s no question more important than whether or not you get to marry the person you love. Ken Harvey shows what happens when personal lives intersect with a great political struggle, and he does it with enormous insight. This is a subtle, sensitive, and very moving book.
Barbara Fisher, Boston GLOBE –
It took Ken Harvey a long time to admit to himself, his friends, his family, and the larger world that he was gay. But once he took the first steps, he followed through with purposeful strides. Growing up in the 1960s in a controlling Catholic family in Lynn, Harvey was intimidated and ignored by his parents and teased and bullied by his classmates. Hiding and denying were his strategies for getting by. When he finally came out, he fell happily into a long and loving relationship with Bruce, a man who had previously been married and fathered two daughters. At the same time that Bruce and Ken were making a life together, the laws of Massachusetts were moving toward allowing them to marry. Despite the usual premarital doubts and dithering, Ken and Bruce planned a wedding and were legally pronounced spouses for life. Most moving are the personal parts of the memoir coming out to his colleagues and students at the private school where he taught and their warm and accepting responses, having Bruce by his side as his legal spouse when he is taken to the hospital. Less moving but still powerful are the public parts of the memoir Ken s political activism, his participation in marches, rallies, and the continuing national fight for gay marriage
A Passionate Engagement is about going through the political battle in Massachusetts over the right to marry. The book also is a look at a gay childhood in the sixties and seventies, a closeted then openly gay life as a teacher working in the classroom, Ken’s marriage to his spouse of many years, and how that marriage has changed them and the two children they helped raise. Given everything that is going on today the continuing same-sex marriage battle, the heartbreaking rate of teen suicide, the frightening resurgence of the radical right we want this book to be read not just by gay folks, but by anyone who’s concerned with these issues. Then we hope they’ll pass the book on to people who need their eyes opened. This is his true wish for the book. To change a few hearts and minds.
10 Praise quotes –
“A Passionate Engagement is both love story and activist journal, intimate personal narrative and social commentary chronicle. Harvey delivers a moving but never mawkish account of an important human drive and how it intersects with politics, public perception, and personal struggle.”
–Lisa Romeo, Foreword Reviews
“A Passionate Engagement is as timely as it is moving…The vital importance of the availability of marriage to everyone shines through in this important story of true love and political activism.”
–Jim Plechota, Bay Area Reporter
“There’s no question more important than whether or not you get to marry the person you love. Ken Harvey shows what happens when personal lives intersect with a great political struggle, and he does it with enormous insight. This is a subtle, sensitive, and very moving book.”
–Joan Wickersham, author of The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order
“… you can’t do better than A Passionate Engagement—and you might buy extras for friends and family of all sociopolitical and sexual persuasions.”
–David Pratt, Lambda Literary
“Ken Harvey has written a memoir that is a fine book on so many levels. The utter simplicity of retelling his childhood is as tender a story as any in the literature…echoes of Salinger and Joyce haunt the pages.”
–Grady Harp, amazon top ten reviewer
“A Passionate Engagement is a fine addition to any Gay studies or memoir collection.”
–Midwest Book Review
“Violet Quill Award-winner Ken Harvey’s memoir A Passionate Engagement recounts his humorous coming out in Massachusetts during the battle against the same-sex marriage ban. Harvey… proves an excellent eyewitness to the defiance of those who changed him from a reluctant activist to a proud soldier of love and war. It’s the perfect holiday read to gear up for a new year full of tumbles in the sheets and in the streets.
“As Harvey looks at his own political life, we see the political life of so many and we are lucky to have this so clearly presented to us in such beautiful language. The fact that it is so personal makes it all the more real and important. It pulled me in on the first page and has had a profound effect on me and it looks like it will be heading toward my ten best of 2010.”
–Amos Lassen, Amos Lassen Reviews
“This is a very timely story about a truly important social movement. Reading about Harvey going from observer to a fighting advocate for same-sex marriage offers hope to the reader – the hope that other states will follow Massachusetts in allowing the right for every individual to marry the person he or she loves.”
— Adela M. Brito, Edge Media Network
“If your giftee loves to read memoirs that empower, then wrap up “A Passionate Engagement” by Ken Harvey. In this slim book, Harvey talks about coming out, meeting his husband and becoming an activist. Politics play an important part in this book, so it might be a good choice for anyone who’s politics-minded, too.”
–Qnotes, LGBTQ Arts and Entertainment