Penguin Random House: Actor, Playwright, Activist Harvey Fierstein Bares His Inner Life in New Memoir

Harvey Fierstein’s I WAS BETTER LAST NIGHT, published by Knopf, is our new Igloo Book Buzz selection. In his poignant, often hilarious memoir, the gay rights activist and four-time Tony Award–winning actor and playwright reveals never-before-told stories of his personal struggles, conflicts, and triumphs during his life and fabled career.

“I have completely outlived every fantasy I ever had about what my life could be,” says Fierstein. “I’ve also crashed and burned more times than most would think survivable. Oh, well. At least I didn’t sit life out on the sidelines. I never thought I’d spill my guts but, when COVID locked me in with my computer, I figured I’d amuse myself and give this a try. Well, here is the outrageous, juicy, scary, and mostly true result of my efforts. Actors and writers use their talents to hide who they really are. With this memoir I guess I am saying farewell to all of that. This is me.”

I WAS BETTER LAST NIGHT was edited by Peter Gethers, who shares, “Harvey is a very special person to work with. To start, he is a nice, caring person. Then you add extraordinarily professional. Layer in funny, talented on so many levels, and the fact that he is a wonderful writer. And finally, he is inspiring as an activist and with his moral stands. I don’t know how an editor can do much better than that. He even delivers on time!”

Fierstein’s career transported him from community theater in Brooklyn, to the lights of Broadway, to the absurd excesses of Hollywood and back. He’s received accolades and awards for acting in and/or writing an incredible string of hit plays, films, and TV shows, including Hairspray, Fiddler on the Roof, Mrs. Doubtfire, Independence Day, Cheers, La Cage Aux Folles, Torch Song Trilogy, Newsies, and Kinky Boots.

In his memoir, he bares the inner life of an eccentric nonconforming child, from his roots in 1952 Brooklyn, to the experimental worlds of Andy Warhol and the Theatre of the Ridiculous, to the gay rights movements of the seventies and the tumultuous AIDS crisis of the eighties, through decades of addiction, despair, and ultimate triumph.

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