Warren Lehrer

The Portrait Series: a quartet of men
Written and designed by Warren Lehrer
Published 1995, Bay Press, Seattle
Four book suite, Illustrated Paperbacks. Each book measuring 6.5” x 9.75.” Total, 1020 pages.
Four color covers, black and white interiors.
Includes: Brother Blue: A Narrative Portrait of Brother Blue, aka Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill; Nicky D. from L.I.C.: A Narrative Portrait of Nicholas Detommaso; Claude: A Narrative Portrait of Claude Debs;  Charlie: A Narrative Portrait of Charles Lang

The Portrait Series documents and portrays eccentric Americans who straddle the wobbly line between brilliance and madness. These stoop philosophers, sit-down comedians, and off-the-cuff bards, puncture the predictability of everyday life. Each volume is proportional in size to a standing human figure, with a photographic portrait of the subject on the front cover; a portrait of them from the back on the back; and inside, the guts—life stories and perspectives told in short stories, vignettes and extended soliloquies. Expressive but very readable typographic/pictorial settings attempt to capture the shape of thought and reunite the spoken word with the printed page. The first four books in the series form a quartet of men. Together, they challenge traditional notions of madness, heroism, masculinity, and what a book can be.

ISBN-10: 0393324664 ISBN-13: 978-0393324662
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Or purchase as individual volumes:

Brother Blue: A Narrative Portrait of Brother Blue, aka Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill
Written and designed by Warren Lehrer
Paperback. 6.5” x 9.75” x 267 pages. Bay Press. 1995.
ISBN 0-941920-36-4
Limited number of single books available:$10 + 3 shipping and handling
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Claude: A Narrative Portrait of Claude Debs
Written and designed by Warren Lehrer
Paperback. 6.5” x 9.75” x 253 pages. Bay Press. 1995.
ISBN 0-941920-35-4
Suggested Retail Price: SOLD OUT, available with the full set shrink wrapped. $25 full set.
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Nicky D. from L.I.C.: A Narrative Portrait of Nicholas Detommaso
Written and designed by Warren Lehrer
Paperback. 6.5” x 9.75” x 261 pages. Bay Press. 1995.
ISBN 0-941920-37-2
Suggested Retail Price: SOLD OUT, available with the full set shrink wrapped. $25 full set.
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Charlie: A Narrative Portrait of Charlie Lang
Written and designed by Warren Lehrer
Paperback. 6.5” x 9.75” x 253 pages. Bay Press. 1995.
ISBN 0-941920-34-8
Suggested Retail Price: SOLD OUT available with the full set shrink wrapped. $25 full set.
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books, a few pages, page spreads, and details

During his forty-plus years, Claude has lived the life of a bohemian artist, underground doctor, spy, philanthropist, homeless person, inventor, and entrepreneur. This intimate portrait of Claude Debs, an orphaned survivor of child sexual abuse turned fiercely independent citizen of the world, follows Claude’s pilgrimage from the Middle East to France, Russia and America. It offers heretical and searing observations on hyper-sexuality, marriage, lying, the art of alchemy, and hard-fought living. It also lays bare the intimate reflections and fractious soliloquies of one-side of a twenty year friendship, as seen by the other. Illuminated with photos of Claude.

 






See and read more pages and excerpts and find out more about the Claude Portrait book:


Based on a hard-boiled, soft-hearted, retired dock worker who expounds on the meaning of life from his four room railroad flat in Long Island City, New York, where’s he’s lived for over seventy years. Surrounded by memorabilia and seasonal icons of good cheer, Nicholas Detommaso delivers a continuous stream of barbed commentary on familial duty, work, war, money, religion—and the best way to chop garlic. Undiminished by a childhood spent in and out of hospitals, a lifetime of backbreaking work, and his share of disappointments, this irascible character reveals a tender regard for friends and family, and a stubborn inclination for life. Illuminated with objects and pictures from Nicky D’s collection.

 








See and read more pages and excerpts and find out more about the Claude Portrait book:


This book gives voice to the stories behind the stories of Dr. Hugh Morgan Hill, a.k.a. Brother Blue, the official storyteller of Boston. The great grandson of a slave owner and his slave, Blue rises through the white dominated spheres of the military, the ministry and academia, then sheds institutional life to become a roaming town crier, street poet and raconteur — fueled by a transformative power of sacred service. Renowned for spinning parables of struggle and hope on street corners and in prisons, schools, subways, and churches — Brother Blue entrusted me with writing this portrait based on his seldom heard accounts of growing up during the depression under the spell of mythically heroic parents; serving as a black lieutenant during World War II in the segregated US Army; and riotous attempts at turning the hallowed traditions of the Ivy League and the church on its head! Illuminated with photographs of Brother Blue.

 




See and read more pages and excerpts and find out more about the Brother Blue book.


Charlie Lang is a gifted musician struggling to step outside the revolving door of a mental health system that has defined and sustained him for over seventeen years. In a world that rewards strength over sensitivity, the protagonist’s exceptional intuitive powers are a blessing as well as a curse. Culled from years of friendship and conversation, this portrait book chronicles the journey of an imaginative, unconfinable spirit, in search of dignity, love, artistic expression and transcendence. Charlie’s poetic, sometimes harrowing, sometimes hilarious reflections bear witness to life in and out of hospitals, day treatment centers, half-way, and all-the-way housing. The text is illuminated by original drawings by Lang.

 






See and read more pages and excerpts and find out more about the Charlie Portrait book.


Original mock-up dummies of the Portrait Series used to develop the idea, secure grants and a publisher.



Listen to an excerpt of Warren reading/performing “Fleur de Lune” from the Claude book.

About the Male Quartet:
“The first four books in The Portrait Series focus on men. Taken together, these books form a group portrait as reflective of the voices stirred within me as it is of the subjects.” Lehrer has written and spoken openly about his ambivalence toward and disassociation with maleness. These four men, all break/broke the mold, and served as an inspiration to him, and others. “I offer these books to Claude, Brother Blue, Charlie, and Nicky D. as gifts in return for their trust and friendship. I also offer these books to you as an opportunity to visit with, listen to, and try to understand a life, a life’s perspective, the lives of four eccentric, prismatic, and resilient men.”

The first book in the Women’s Series, morphed into a play, written with Judith Sloan, titled A Tattle Tale, inspired by the life story of Andrea Gibbs, a deputy sheriff in Mississippi who, along four black male deputy sheriff’s, blew the whistle on brutalities and murders taking place in youth detention centers and county jails. Her efforts helped instigate a Justice Department investigation which resulted in federally mandated reforms.

 

A Tattle Tale premiered as a solo show performed by Judith Sloan, as a run at La MaMa Experimental Theater and later at Independent Art at HERE, both in NYC. A half hour radio documentary about Andrea Gibbs and A Tattle Tale, produced by Laura Sydel, aired on NPR’s program Horizons. Here is a short audio clip from the documentary, titled Eyewitness In Mississippi, of Judith performing from A Tattle Tale.

Listen to an excerpt of Judith Sloan performing Andrea Gibbs from A Tattle Tale, as recorded and mixed by NPR for Eyewitness in Mississippi.

Aspects of The Portrait Series also morphed into what became the Crossing the BLVD project, which portrays 79 women, men, and children hailing from all parts of the globe.