San Francisco in the 1970s was a city of action: artistic, social, sexual, and political. In this atmosphere, radical art and theater flourished, giving birth to such groups as The Cockettes and the Angels of Light. Born of East Coast affluence, Adrian Brooks’ inner drive as a poet and artist soon brought him to San Francisco and into the heart of this “magical vortex.”
In telling his story, and the story of the Angels, Brooks allows readers to experience these transformative times and meet the broad spectrum of individuals whose contributionsâ€”both positive and negativeâ€”made the queer arts scene in California and America what it is today.
Brooks’ story is fascinating; the people and events with which he was involved make juicy reading for anyone interested in queer history, theatre history, or the history of the Bay Area. The only drawback is, unfortunately, Brooks himself. His arrogant, self-congratulatory tone is tempered only occasionally with false modesty (his claim to understand the sufferings of the poor because he only allowed his trust fund to pay him the equivalent of a monthly welfare check is laughable), and toward the book’s end, the writing becomes fragmented, with people and events introduced and then forgotten. Despite these flaws, Flights of Angels remains an interesting read, and though its audience may be limited, those who seek out this story will not be disappointed.
Reviewed by Amanda Clay
Library Media Specialist