While I really did enjoy this book (thanks Lena, you know how to pick them for me!) it took me a while to figure out what it was about. It has elements of humor, drama, romance, satire, and social commentary on celebrity culture. In short, it's a parody of the celebrity confessional memoir. Fans of the author's alter ego James Lear will be very familiar with this format, only this is smut free PG-13 version.
I Must Confess falls into the fake memoir genre, as it follows Marc LeJeune through his sometimes tacky, sometimes desperate and sometimes brilliant entertainment career. It takes place mostly in London during the late 1960s through the early 1980s and many historical events and people are featured. Much of this so called confessional is treated as revisionist history, setting the record straight and damage control from bad press, a constant thorn in Marc's side. Marc is terminally torn between embracing his free and fun loving self and a having a carefully curated self image required to sustain an entertainment career.
Marc's life intersects with many cultural touchstones of the 60s, 70s and 80s as he pursues artistic endeavors in rock & roll, modeling, brand ambassador, experimental theater,
films and television. There is a bit of Forrest Gump vibe as Marc crosses paths with Andy Warhol, Elizabeth Taylor, and mentions David Bowie (pronounced "bau-ie" by the narrator, unclear if that was intentional). He even gets involved with a commune living arrangement with his wife(show spoiler)
and conveniently realizes the root of his issues with his relationship to men(show spoiler)
Much is made of the fact Marc LeJuene is self professed to be bisexual. Marc couldn't deny that he had sex with men, but coming out was not an option at the time. So bisexuality was the slightly naughty, slightly titillating compromise. Never mind that Marc only had sex with men and only fell in love with men. We live in a time where bi-erasure awareness is important, and so it feels sickly ironic that bisexuality was used to deny being homosexual. But so it went for Marc LeJeune. Denial was not just a river in Egypt for Marc, it was an essential ingredient to his fighting spirit and being a SUPERSTAR...
While Marc's carefully orchestrated self portrayal ends on a high note, the astute reader will have learned to read between the lines as we watch life imitate art imitating life.
A note for James Lear fans... there is a shout-out to The Back Passage. In this case it's a reference to a gay porn film. I Must Confess has minimal on-page sex, consistent with a Rupert James title. However, I can envision how the author might think, wouldn't it be fun to fill it with lots of graphic sex, and then some?