Releases Summer 2016




paperback, 196 pages


Also available in digital formats at $7.99


Let's Shut Out the World


by Kevin Bentley


Bitingly funny and at times harrowingly sad, Let’s Shut Out the World traces the man-hungry and misanthropic journey of an intensely bibliophilistic young man following his natural bent from a desolate Texas landscape of tumbleweeds, Jesus freaks, and compliant straight boys to the gay capital of San Francisco in pursuit of sex, drugs, a lover, and more.

Whether describing having his hair styled by a gang of eighth-grade bullies; staging a Satan festival in the main hall of Greenvale High complete with black robes, black candles, and raw chickens; succumbing to a sneezing fit inside the healing Sanctuary at Chimayó; or indulging in inappropriate sex with a caregiver, Bentley writes with a pen dipped in blood, indignation, and grim whimsy.

Let’s Shut Out the World is both prequel and sequel to the author’s rough-and-ready romantic escapades detailed in his diaries, the Lambda Literary Award finalist for memoir, Wild Animals I Have Known.



Praise for Let's Shut Out the World

“14 essays…each one rewarding on its own. Taken together, they represent the arc of a lifetime as Bentley moves through the hedonistic days of pre-AIDS SF into the horrifying, soul-expanding detour that would follow…. With an amazing economy of prose and complete believability, [he] captures the whole tawdry sweep of events from the ’70s to the present day.”
—Robert Julian, Bay Area Reporter

Let’s Shut Out the World assumes readers’ calm intelligence, a way of seeing that matches Bentley’s own part unsentimental, yet heartfelt, observation; and part essential, emotive humor. While grounded in this intelligence, the writing remains devastatingly physical throughout. Every essay concerns gay liberation, but no two are alike, except in their careful structure, cinematic in their focus on details that seem to have a life, a jilted psyche, of their own.”
—Ari Messer, Edge

“[Bentley] also has the rare gift of being able to create sexual situations that are explicit without being pornographic. Funny, sad and hopeful, it has compassion without sentimentality. Let’s Shut Out the World is a refreshing read from beginning to end, offering a satisfying picture of a gay life in progress.”
—Ian Young, Torso

“Funny and sad but never narcissistic, Let’s Shut Out the World notices all the absurdities and anomalies that lurk in the transition from goth youth to middle-aged monogamy.”
—Jan Richman, SF Gate

“…Channels [his] experiences into prose beautifully accented with understated emotion and gentle, self-deprecating humor.”
—Perry Kramer, Men magazine

“…Less sexual but no less engrossing [than Wild Animals I Have Known]. A few [of these stories] cover the same heady, sexually liberated 1970s San Francisco as the earlier book, sometimes just as raunchily, sometimes more introspectively. And the rest take Bentley into…a contented but never complacent middle-age monogamy. Let’s Shut Out the World demonstrates, without pretension, that the most honest, most telling, history is the most personal.”
—Richard Labonte, Books to Watch Out For

“Provides the backstory to Wild Animals’ randy adventures, using the same warm tone, absorbing storytelling and humorous perspective that [made] his earlier memoir a Lambda Literary Award Finalist.”

“Bentley’s stories of his Texas childhood, more accounts of his Bay Area life during Disco and then, finally—of finding a guy to call his own in the middle-age years he never thought he’d see—are sweetly funny and refreshingly unsentimental.”

“Kevin Bentley’s memoirs are funny and moving and absorbing. This is a clear-eyed and unsentimental chronicle of the world of our generation of gay men—his title to the contrary, Bentley shuts none of it out. It’s a pleasure to read about a life that was only ordinarily fucked-up, recounted by a writer who can distinguish the silly from the grave and write about both with modesty and candor.”
—Mark Merlis, author of American Studies and JD

“This is the Everyboy account of what it was like to come-of-age in the wake of Gay Liberation and survive. Future generations will find in Bentley’s story the most accurate and moving record of how we lived then. But Bentley isn’t Everyboy. He’s a sexy, funny and quietly elegant writer who can cunningly convey his passion, pain and probing pleasures.”
—David Bergman, author of The Violet Hour: The Violet Quill and the Making of Gay Culture

“An unpretentious autobiography in the form of about a dozen well-focused episodes from the author’s life, Let’s Shut Out the World continues the narrative, and even more, the voice I liked so much in Wild Animals I Have Known. It’s funny, wry, sad sometimes but never sour. While the stories of Kevin’s hopelessly misfit life in hyper-religious West Texas were funny, the meat of the book for me came once the author moved to San Francisco. His beautifully written memories of a life lived in the heart of the gay ghetto and on the margin of respectability are exactly right—not portentous, not trivial. Any gay person would recognize Kevin’s story, but guys in their 40s and up will feel it’s their own life, only funnier, better written, and with more sex in it. It’s a terrific book.”
—Reed Woodhouse, author of Unlimited Embrace: A Canon of Gay Fiction

“Reading Kevin Bentley’s memoirs is like listening to an especially literate and funny friend tell you about his entertainingly deplorable past. Better him than me, I found myself thinking time and again. But that’s true on two levels. I wouldn’t want to have lived through a lot of what Bentley has, but I have to admit I couldn’t have written about it nearly as beautifully either.”
—Ed Sikov, author of On Sunset Boulevard: The Life and Times of Billy Wilder

“These total-recall reminiscences, from boyhood in El Paso to full immersion in the San Francisco gay community, are such good reading and so evocative of their times they could go in a time capsule.”

—Katherine V. Forrest, Lambda Award-winning author of the Kate Delafield mystery series

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About the author

Kevin Bentley is the author of Wild Animals I Have Known: Polk Street Diaries and After and Let’s Shut Out the World, a collection of memoirs, both available from Chelsea Station Editions. He edited the anthologies Boyfriends from Hell, Sex by the Book, and After Words: Real Sex From Gay Men's Diaries, and also authored Sailor: Vintage Photos of a Masculine Icon. His writing has appeared in various anthologies and in Poz, Out, ZYZZYVA, and Chelsea Station magazine. He lives with his husband, Paul, in San Francisco.


Also by Kevin Bentley

and available from Chelsea Station Editions

Wild Animals I Have Known