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Bobby Quinn has been haunted by two enigmatic people for most of his adult life: Ben Morrissey, a sexy Don Juan who becomes a famous photographer in late 1990s Manhattan, and Monika Lilac, a beautiful cinephile femme fatale who is consumed by her love for silent-era films. This is a story about romantic obsession and cinematic obsessiveness, and a portrait of young people falling in love and trying to make their mark before the party is over.

That Was Something—a profound, delicate, emotionally involving novel—gripped my attention by accurately evoking certain lost moments in queer urban life. I admire the book’s taut structure and tenderly direct diction: The Great Gatsby on poppers. In high-contrast, horny chiaroscuro, without clutter, Callahan documents the chemical reaction that occurs when gayness and bi-curiosity greet each other in the dark room.” —Wayne Koestenbaum, author of The Queen’s Throat and Jackie Under My Skin

“Known for his superb books about the art of acting, Dan Callahan brings all his piercing insight to the tale of Robert, who yearns for photographer Ben Morrissey, who in turn has a yen for Monika Lilac—sometime blogger, silent-film devotee, and mistress of self-dramatization. That Was Something itself takes on the wild comedy and vivid emotions of a silent movie, as the characters swirl through the bars and parties and screening rooms of Manhattan 20 years ago, a world of artists and others obsessed with ‘the important things: Love, Death, Love again.’” —Farran Smith Nehme, author of Missing Reels


Here's what critics have said about the book!

"A stunning debut novel…essential reading… Callahan cocoons his characters in what feels like a time capsule, capturing them at their most beautiful and glamorous and then presenting them to us as if on a stage—or on a screen… this novel enters the canon of the queer roman a clef—as well as the literary New York novel—by mixing vibrantly realized memories of a fleeting youth, ruminations on the origins of desire, and a deeply felt nostalgia for the way things once were into a cocktail that tastes exactly like growing up and growing older in the same city in which you were once young." —Slant Magazine

"Alternately devastating and uplifting … with a stripped-down style and a dry, sometimes biting humor … reading it feels like remembering your own lost love and lost lives." —Nylon

"Sometimes a novel feels so true to your lived experience it feels pulled from your own life. That was our sensation reading That Was Something …it’s a novel about youth, and like youth, it’s slim, fleeting, and always off to the next thing … this is a book for those of us who have or had friends with larger-than-life personalities … we feel for Bobby in this book, because we were Bobby." —The Bay Area Reporter

"Callahan brings a sharp yet pleasurable urgency to the gay coming-of-age genre …in ornate, lyrical prose, he speaks truth to the loss many gay men feel for the video stores and darkrooms of a pre-gentrification New York—for a time when free love was worth fighting for … this novel is grounded in rich, granular details, but it also evokes a dreamlike quality." —Full Stop

"Films populate That Was Something the way that characters might another novel… Monika Lilac casts a very necessary, unreal quality onto the book … the basic plot is plausible, but the unreal quality that makes it pleasurable is Monika." —The Paris Review

"Supremely tender …That Was Something is a vivid novel that chronicles how youthful exuberance is ultimately highjacked by time." —Lambda Literary Review

"Affecting and memorable … its honesty of feeling is undeniable. So, too, is the sense that we have encountered a real depiction of New York at a certain time and place." —Edge Media Network

"A short, punchy character study and treatise on obsession, That Was Something gives you a lot to think about." —Out in Print

"An enveloping and insightful novel." —Largehearted Boy

"An intriguing debut novel." —The Literary Review

"That Was Something is beautiful and melancholy and bittersweet and sexy." —The Sheila Variations

"At times comedic and at times in your face, this is a story about obsession … propelled by wonderfully drawn characters, and there is no way you can guess what will happen next." —Amos Lassen


About the Author: Dan Callahan is the author of three books. This is his first novel.


ISBN: 978-1-941960-10-3
110 pages. 5.5" x 8.5"
Paperback: $15.00


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See also:

When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience
Among the Leaves: Queer Male Poets on the Midwestern Experience
Queer & Celtic: On the Irish LGBT Experience
Lincoln Avenue: Chicago Stories
QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology
At Danceteria and Other Stories
London Skin & Bones: The Finsbury Park Stories
It's Just Nerves: Notes on a Disability
Lovejets: Queer Male Poets on 200 Years of Walt Whitman
We Are Not Your Metaphor: A Disability Poetry Anthology


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