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I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going

The Art Scene and Downtown New York in the 1980s
Narrated by: Peter McGough
Length: 9 hrs and 24 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Brilliantly funny, frank, and shattering, this is the bittersweet memoir by Peter McGough of his life with artist David McDermott. Set in New York’s Lower East Side of the 1980s and mid-1990s, it is also a devastatingly candid look at the extreme naiveté and dysfunction that would destroy both their lives.

Escaping the trauma of growing up gay in Syracuse and being bullied at school, McGough attended art school in New York, dropped out, and took out jobs in clubs, where he met McDermott. Dazzled by McDermott, whom he found fascinating and worldly, McGough agreed to collaborate with him not only on their art but also in McDermott’s very entertaining Victorian lifestyle. McGough evokes the rank and seedy East Village of that time, where he encountered Keith Haring, Rene Ricard, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline and Julian Schnabel, among many others. Nights were spent at the Ninth Circle, Danceteria, and Studio 54; going to openings at the FUN Gallery; or visiting friends in the Chelsea Hotel. By the mid-1980s, McDermott & McGough were hugely successful, showing at three Whitney Biennials, represented by the best galleries here and abroad, and known for their painting, photography and “time experiment” interiors. Then, overnight, it was all gone. And one day in the mid-1990s, McGough would find that he, like so many of his friends, had been diagnosed with AIDS. 

I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going is a compelling memoir for our time, told with humor and compassion, about how lives can become completely entwined even in failure and what it costs to reemerge, phoenix-like, and carry on.

©2019 Peter McGough (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Peter McGough has written the most authentic, tragic, and inspiring memoir of the 1980s at scene ever: a tale not merely of death and rebirth but of re-death and re-rebirth. It’s beautifully wrought with amazing detail, names named, twists and turns, and recollections of twentieth-century New York City, worthy of a nineteenth-century novelist.” (Isaac Mizrahi, author of I.M.: A Memoir)

“A Manhattan feast of artists, eccentrics, oddballs, users, queens, collectors, grifters, and saints. The witty, wily McGough captures the highs and lows of New York City in its gritty, everything-goes prime while painting the story of a young misfit artist in search of himself.” (Christopher Bollen, author of The Destroyers)

“A rags-to-riches story of some of the most uncompromising artists you’ve ever encountered - a gay couple full of charm and heroism. This is essential reading for every aspiring creative nonconformist.” (Edmund White, author of City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and ‘70s)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Funny, endearing, and soul-baringly frank

As an artist, working in a reclusive studio where I spend most of my waking hours, I'm always on the lookout for artist autobiographies/biographies. It's a solace to me to hear how other artist's get through life. One of my favorites, in this genre, was Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel. A lot of the contemporary art scene, in the U.S. seems to have emerged from hole-in-the-wall studios on the streets of New York. I find it interesting to hear about these emerging art scenes through different perspectives and in different eras. McGough's is an intriguing story-- told (and read by him) with humor and directness, and includes accounts of not only McGough's personal experiences, but also of what was happening in the larger world (and art scene), at the time. McGough comes across as very endearing and brave, despite his self-professed lack of confidence. I listened to it while painting, and it flew by with rarely a dull moment.


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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Best narration!

At first I didn’t know if I was going to like Peter McGough’s narration style – – but it quickly grew on me. I loved the way he affected the voices of all the kooky characters in the book. I had studied McDermott and in graduate school, but I never knew anything about their personal lives and all of the different political and cultural milestones they lived through. For me, the story was over way too soon and I hope he writes more in the future.

1 person found this helpful