Call Me Chameleon: The selective memory of a kaleidoscopic-eyed globetrotter, from age 3 to this day
Call Me Chameleon (English Edition),
by Albert Russo.
“To write an autobiography is a feat that is difficult, painful, and often feels foreign due to the fact that most of the stories have already been told in various forms through fiction, essays and poetry. In addition, I knew that this was Albert’s chance to let it all hang out, so-to-speak. The nice chameleon has its nasty sides – as we all do – and some of the anger would be sure to leak out in such a book. (A coming to terms, one might say.) And finally, this project has scared me shitless because here he — the chameleon — finally reveals himself (often times through his all-too-frank alter ego Zapinette), and recounts the well-known stories from his travels to and residences in Africa, Israel, Europe and America within a human context. Within a human context … And why is that scary? Well, fiction is often more believable than truth (read: more acceptable / comfortable than truth / real life). I saw for myself the “bad boy” chameleon, that I learned to know and love personally and in his literature, threatening to rear his beautiful head. Who was I scared for … the chameleon, or the readers? Honestly? Both … we are all the chameleon. Albert Russo outs us all in this book.“ (From Adam Donaldson Powell’s Preface)
James Baldwin’s words to the author, penned the year of his death: “I like your work very much indeed. It has a very gentle surface and a savage under-tow. You’re a dangerous man.”
Edmund White: “Albert Russo has recreated through a young African boy’s joys and struggles many of the tensions of modern life, straight and gay, black and white, third world and first … all of these tensions underlie this story of a biracial child adopted by a benevolent American. Adopted by an American in the Belgian Congo is a non-stop, gripping read!”
World Literature Today: “In Léodine of the Belgian Congo, the reader will find, as in the thre other novels, Princes and Gods, Eur-African Exiles and Adopted by an American in the Belgian Congo, many poignant and delightful passages, especially in the journeys across the magnificent Kivu province, which today, along with bordering Rwanda and Burundi, has been scarred by fratricidal wars. That Leodine, in the opening novel, happens to be an adolescent, as was Leopold in Adopted by an American in the Belgian Congo, isn’t fortuitous, for it is at that vulnerable period of one’s life that one’s personality takes form. In Albert Russo’s Africa you will find humankind’s infinite diversity and, amid such richness, a quest for the deep self.”
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