Guest post by Jesse Wilson.
In the throes of my angry, fist-in-the-air teenage years, my mom once asked my best friend, “Is Jesse unhappy?” My best friend (he knew me all too well) answered, “Jesse is unhappy… because he’s happy.”
It took me a long time to admit to myself… I really had a happy childhood.
Why is the novel called Faces On My Wall? All the artists I wanted to be that were taped on my bedroom wall– all had corroded childhoods, as far as I knew. They’d been beaten, they’d gone to military school, their mothers were drunks or prostitutes (or both if they were lucky), their father’s held them down and spit in their faces and called them losers, they were rejected unaccountably by society, family, friends… but despite everything, they turned into Great Artists. They soared. They conquered. They triumphed. They made great novels and plays and paintings and symphonies. They celebrated their misery and despair and turned it into unspeakably gorgeous dripping works of art. Unhappiness and white-hot rage, I somehow strangely believed from maybe age 13 to 23, were the criteria for true artistry. That, and living in New York.
Faces On My Wall is the story about chasing after the dream of all those faces… All through high school and then beyond, the persistence of this delusion– wanting to be all the faces on my wall– lead to heart break, and then mild nagging unrest, and then acceptance… ultimately, gratitude, that I came from a safe, happy home life, God forbid.
I remember the night before I left for New York…
I look around my room, at all the books stacked on the shelves, and for the first time in my life, wonder what it’ll be like to live in a dorm room. I have the best room in the house… I practically have my own private view of the city, and I stare at the glow of those distant LA lights… It’s weird. All of a sudden I remember. Mom would sing to me the African Song I never understood the words to and didn’t want to even if I could, and we would listen to the two owls we named Oliver and Olivette, calling each other in the night, serenading each other in the trees that always gave the illusion of living in the country, not ten minutes away from Hollywood Blvd… It’s funny the things you remember when you’re about to leave.
I fought the innocence of Home until everything changed. But there was nothing anyone could do about it.
I had to realize that the things I love so much now in my adulthood… It’s what I had all along. Happiness. Acceptance. Support. And really, unconditional love. A great, happy childhood. Nothing at all like the faces on my wall. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
Synopsis for Faces On My Wall
A coming-of-age story and a comedic tour-de-force, meet Jamey Fuller, a cocky California kid who achieves his wildest ambition: admission to The Juilliard School in New York City, the country’s most prestigious acting school. Once there, he is sure, he will find fame and glory. He will dance on tables, as in “Fame.” He will take his place among the Great Actors of his time, freed from the fear of becoming just like his father, a director of Hollywood TV spots. But the reality proves hilariously brutal, as Jamey grapples with Shakespeare, lust, disillusionment, cut-throat classmates and imperious teachers. FACES ON MY WALL is a privileged glimpse into the bizarre hidden world of an actor’s training, a poignant father-and-son story, and the chronicle of a young man’s painful gropings toward maturity.