Born on the outskirts of London, England, author Michael R. Brown’s deep relationship to women began early in childhood. Abandoned by his British playboy father and raised in San Francisco by his single mother, Brown was exposed to the many facets of female influence by a series of striking women. From his mother and Californian grandmother “Goosie” (the matriarch who begins and ends Brown’s new book, She and I: A Fugue), to his first girlfriends, lovers, and wife, women were strong presences in his life – it was they who raised him and shaped his journey to manhood.
After a stepfather entered his life, Brown was sent to military school and experienced the polar opposite: an all-male, abusive environment. He made his way to intimate contact with women once in college, and several years later he met Beth. After talking endlessly over the phone, they met in person, fell instantly in love, and married a few weeks after.
After losing Beth to cancer in 1998, Brown found himself alone, his life at dead stop in a crisis of meaning. Seeking personal renewal, in 1999 he joined a group of young intellectuals online who dubbed themselves “Citylighters,” finding solace in the open exchange of ideas and camaraderie he found there. When one member – an intellectually precocious 18-year-old ballerina in Boston named Mira – wrote him an intriguing letter, the two rapidly became infatuated and formed an online, long-distance relationship that altered Brown’s life forever.
Brown traces this evolution through contact with women in his new book, She and I: A Fugue (Petrarca Press, May 2009), a memory piece that opens a unique window into the male psyche. The book originated as a blog in 2001 that charted the course of his love affair with Mira. It quickly generated high traffic and word-of-mouth popularity. Years later, Brown formed those dispatches into one cohesive narrative – She and I.
Brown’s working life has been as unusual as his romantic experiences. He drove a forklift and sold shoes before becoming a mortgage banking executive. In his off hours, he discovered a forgotten feminist writer and published the acclaimed anthology Tender Darkness, a celebration of Mary MacLane (1881-1929). Tender Darkness received a two-page spread excerpt in Harper’s and praise from The Boston Globe, among other rave reviews in the literary world.
Brown currently resides north of San Francisco, where – having sworn off mortgage banking in 2001 – he is working on future anthologies and original writing, including a possible sequel to She and I.