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TINDERBOX

Tinderbox is a work of enormous significance that announces the arrival of a gifted new author.
— Samuel G. Freedman, author of Breaking the Line and The Inheritance, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in General Nonfiction
 

An essential work of American civil rights history, Robert W. Fieseler's Tinderbox mesmerizingly reconstructs the 1973 fire that devastated New Orleans’ subterranean gay community. Buried for decades, the Up Stairs Lounge tragedy has only recently emerged as a catalyzing event of the gay liberation movement. 

In revelatory detail, Fieseler chronicles the tragic event that claimed the lives of thirty-one men and one woman on June 24, 1973, at a New Orleans bar, the largest mass murder of gays until 2016. Relying on unprecedented access to survivors and archives, Fieseler creates an indelible portrait of a closeted, blue- collar gay world that flourished before an arsonist ignited an inferno.

Pub. Date: June 5, 2018

“A momentous work of sociological and civil rights history.” -- Kirkus Reviews (starred)

“As in a Shakespearean tragedy, the ghosts of the closeted and disrespected dead resurrect to tell their stories in Robert Fieseler's Tinderbox.” -- Ronald K.L. Collins, Harold S. Shefelman Scholar, University of Washington Law School, co-author of Mania: The Story of the Outraged and Outrageous Lives That Launched a Cultural Revolution

“Vivid, fast-paced, and essential.” -- Library Journal (starred)

“Eye-opening... Fieseler shines a bright light on a dark and largely forgotten moment.” -- Publishers Weekly

This tragedy has now been brought to vivid life by Fieseler... His inspiring account is an important contribution to LGBTQ literature. -- Booklist

 
 
 
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WORK

 

Books & Anthologies

Tinderbox: The Untold Story of the Up Stairs Lounge Fire and the Rise of Gay Liberation

Liveright Publishing, June 2018


Red Rabbit

My Gay New Orleans Anthology, July 1, 2016

 

ESSAY

One Hostage in Play

Columbia Journal, March 14, 2017


Red Rabbit

Hippocampus, April 1, 2016


Men about Business

Concis, November 13, 2015
(nominated Best of the Net 2015)


New Miserable Experience

RKVRY Quarterly, October 2015
(Finalist, nonfiction 41st New Millennium Literary Awards) 

JOURNALISM

Tinderbox Excerpt (This Mass Murder Of Gay People Sparked A Movement 43 Years Before Pulse)

Buzzfeed, May 30 2018

 

High Falls

The Big Roundtable, forthcoming


Up the Monkey River

Quartz, November 12, 2015


Ghost in the Machine

Narratively, March 25, 2015


Taste the Action (The superhero saga of Brooklyn's weirdest burger joint)

Narratively, October 7, 2014 


Consider the Can

The Big Roundtable, June 9, 2014
(The Atlantic's "Roughly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism" 2014) 

 
 
 
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ABOUT THE author

 
 Fieseler in ironic Ayn Rand shirt as penance for his teenage beliefs

Fieseler in ironic Ayn Rand shirt as penance for his teenage beliefs

ROBERT W. FIESELER

Robert W. Fieseler is a journalist and nonfiction author who currently resides in Boston. He graduated co-valedictorian from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and is a recipient of the Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship and the Lynton Fellowship in Book Writing. 

His essays and feature stories have appeared widely and been recognized in roundups of best nonfiction by The Atlantic, etc. He writes about marginalized groups and overlooked people who make the world better for themselves. As such, his heroes tend to be exiles and outcasts seeking their own strange forms of freedom. 

Fieseler's favorite childhood movie was The Wizard of Oz because he related to the witch. He melted everywhere as a kid, including one time in the middle of Cook Country traffic court. Now, he owns an opinionated Cairn Terrier – same breed as Toto – who accompanies him to the library. Perhaps unsurprisingly to his mother, Fieseler grew to be a proud gay American.

 
 

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EVENTS

 

Learn more about Robert's upcoming events.

 
 
 
 

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CONTACT

Say hello to Robert W. Fieseler and/or give him your email in the odd event that things get dicey and he decides to start a newsletter.