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Sam D’Allesandro (born Richard Anderson) (April 3, 1956 – February 3, 1988) was an American writer and poet. He studied at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and came to San Francisco as a young man in the early 1980s and published a book of elegant lyrics, Slippery Sins.

D'Allesandro was a member of the so-called "New Narrative" writers, which included Robert Glück, Bruce Boone, Steve Abbott and others. He reached out to other like-minded writers and contacted Dennis Cooper, Kathy Acker, Benjamin Weissman, David Trinidad, and Dodie Bellamy. With Bellamy he began an epistolary collaboration she was later to publish as Real: The Letters of Mina Harker and Sam D’Allesandro. A gay man, D'Allesandro died of AIDS in 1988, aged 31, leaving behind a body of work that ranges across various genre identities, from stories of one paragraph to fully developed novellas. He is also the author of The Wild Creatures, which was published posthumously in 2005, edited by Bellamy's husband Kevin Killian.

Sam D'Allesandro wrote a bunch of poems, sketches and short stories and then died just as he was starting to get them published. His powerfully written, humorous and sexy stories (many set in San Francisco) were first collected as The Zombie Pit, which went out of print for years, until The Wild Creatures: Collected Stories of Sam D'Allesandro edited by Kevin Killian volume was published in 2005. His stories seem so frank and vulnerable, even though he sometimes poses as a tough guy. One of the most memorable is an homage to James Baldwin, “Giovanni’s Apartment,” in which a casual street pick up leads to an obsessive affair. The narrator drops out of his life and stays in the apartment of his lover for weeks, and you feel like you’re inside that apartment with him, so saturated with this new love that you don’t want to venture out again. Related reading: anything by Kevin Killian—who edited this volume, was a friend and contemporary of D'Allesandro, and shares his romantic/trashy/hopeful/fantastic sensibility. --K.M. Soehnlein

Sam D'Allesandro, 1988, by Robert Giard (
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (

Further Readings:

The Wild Creatures by Sam D'Allesandro & Kevin Killian
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Suspect Thoughts Press (October 30, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0976341115
ISBN-13: 978-0976341116
Amazon: The Wild Creatures

The Wild Creatures brings together all the stories of Sam D'Allesandro, a young voice whose life was tragically snuffed out at age 31 at the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1988. This new collection includes all of D'Allesandro's published stories (including those first collected in the out-of-print cult classic The Zombie Pit) as well as unpublished stories found among D'Allesandro's papers years after his death by his editor, the poet and novelist Kevin Killian, who worked with the literary estate to create this extended edition of his writing. The Wild Creatures explores a strange terrain of urban legend, the power of sexual obsession, and the thin line where the too-cool becomes the too-hot. Sam D'Allesandro's focused, vivid writing is the stuff of legend: writing so powerful it drags the reader in by the neck.

Real: The Letters of Mina Harker and Sam D'Allesandro by Dodie Bellamy
Paperback: 115 pages
Publisher: Talisman House (January 1, 1994)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1883689163
ISBN-13: 978-1883689162
Amazon: Real: The Letters of Mina Harker and Sam D'Allesandro

Confronting AIDS through Literature: The Responsibilities of Representation by Judith Pastore
Paperback: 278 pages
Publisher: University of Illinois Press (June 1, 1993)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0252062949
ISBN-13: 978-0252062940
Amazon: Confronting AIDS through Literature: The Responsibilities of Representation

Offers readers an array of literature and of viewpoints on the use of literature to confront AIDS as a social, literary, and medical phenomenon.

More Particular Voices at my website:, My Ramblings/Particular Voices

Date: 2013-02-05 07:33 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Thank you for your thorough write up of Sam's work. Losing him in 1988 was a terrible loss to US literature, and I appreciate the interest in his work that continues to this day even after two collections of his stories have both slipped out of print. KM Soehnlein is a great supporter too, if I wasn't already a Soehnlein fan I'd love him just because of his exquisite taste!!!

Date: 2013-02-05 07:34 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Sorry -- didn't mean to be so anonymous-- this is Kevin Killian speaking.


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