Review

I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir

by Josh Kilmer-Purcell



You'd imagine a memoir centered on the love affair between an
alcoholic drag queen and a crack-addicted male prostitute as being
totally depressing or completely hilarious in its self-mocking
honesty. Josh Kilmer-Purcell's memoir I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS is
not quite either.

Yes, it is basically a very sad story told with the
self-deprecating humor one would expect. But Kilmer-Purcell fails
to fully explore the origins of his alcoholism or his co-dependency
with Jack, or push the absurdity of his tale to its limits.

The memoir follows Kilmer-Purcell newly arrived in New York City, a
copywriter in advertising by day and a popular drag performer by
night. As "Aquadisiac," or "Aqua" for short, Kilmer-Purcell stood
almost seven feet tall including wig and high heels. He would
perform or work in various clubs and drink until he passed out or
blacked out before going to his button-down job in the morning. One
night he apparently met a handsome guy named Jack but was too drunk
to remember. However, he did recall his attraction to Jack and
Jack's tenderness towards him.

Soon, Kilmer-Purcell moved into Jack's penthouse apartment. Over
the next few months the two began their own sweet traditions:
take-out breakfasts from a favorite deli, snuggling up to watch
"Blue's Clues" on television, and love notes with haunting and
lovely doodles. But Kilmer-Purcell struggled to maintain a balance
between his relationship with Jack, his daytime career goals, and
the demands of being Aqua. Jack, on the other hand, started hosting
sex parties in their apartment that, more often than not, were
fueled by crack-cocaine. It is obvious that the relationship will
self-destruct. The only question is how long will it take
Kilmer-Purcell to leave Jack and save himself.

I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS is raunchy but not offensive, sad but
not tear-jerking, funny but not very funny. In places it feels
shallow.

Nevertheless, Kilmer-Purcell has talent and often finds a balance
of the despair and elation his story swings between. It is readable
and he, as a narrator, is likable, although I didn't feel as if I
got to know him in any significant way. For a 300-page memoir, this
is disappointing to say the least. His dialogue is often snappy and
witty and his observations keen.

Most interesting is Kilmer-Purcell's alter-ego Aqua and his
descriptions of her life in the clubs and the transitions in and
out of this persona. The physical transformation alone that he goes
through to get into character is amazing and worth reading.

Still, the reader may be left wondering why Kilmer-Purcell was
drawn to Jack. He was good-looking and rich but seemed to lack any
depth or personality. I AM NOT MYSELF THESE DAYS only covers the
six or so whirlwind months Josh and Jack were together, and so the
scope of the memoir is limited but also tightly-packed. It is often
touching and drama-filled, but Kilmer-Purcell only rarely plunges
deep to offer any real insight into his relationship with
Jack.

This is a promising but flawed debut from a writer to keep an eye
on.

Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman on January 22, 2011

I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir
by Josh Kilmer-Purcell

  • Publication Date: February 1, 2006
  • Genres: Memoir, Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial
  • ISBN-10: 0060817321
  • ISBN-13: 9780060817329