Gay Filmmaker Battles Cancer, Sarcastic Ghosts, and Double-Crossing Coworkers in Benediction

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Ben Schmidt cannot sleep. At forty-four, he fears aging, despite the vitality of his frequent love affairs with numerous attractive men. And when Ben is diagnosed with prostate cancer, he embarks upon a soul-searching journey for love and survival.

Just in time for September--Prostate Cancer Awareness Month--comes a novel about a gay filmmaker, who when he receives a prostate cancer diagnosis, is forced to face his own mortality. Ben Schmidt must fight his fears while overcoming issues in his love life and making decisions about his future in Jim Arnold's new novel "Benediction" (ISBN 9781439248577, Eureka Street Press, 2009).

Ben Schmidt seems on the verge of success with the upcoming premiere of his newly completed film "Hell for the Holidays." And his love life is going great--he's having an affair with the sexy artist upstairs, and he has a boy toy on the side. But all that changes on 9/11, the day his personal world starts to fall apart with a prostate cancer diagnosis.

As mortality sinks in for Ben, he begins to see visions of deceased friends, including his dachshund, and he doesn't know what to make of them. His doctor assures him that surgery and radiation can save his life, but he will not be able to produce sperm any longer. Ben decides to bank his sperm for the future, an attempt to preserve his legacy.

Following the operation, Ben's life starts to come back together. His film has several successful premieres at festivals, and he has encounters with desirable men, although his inability to get an erection presents him with problems he seeks to remedy--only to result in more trouble. Then his nemesis at work gets him suspended, and love affairs go wrong. Happiness appears short-lived for Ben, but as long as he is still alive, hope springs eternal that in the end everything will work out, and if nothing else, he still has his sperm to give away.

"Benediction" is a dark-comedy that anyone middle-aged, gay or straight, will appreciate. Rather than another novel about a gay man with AIDS, Ben's prostate cancer embraces a larger male audience, showing a human and universal side to a gay man. Ben's romantic escapades are the gay equivalent of heterosexual male characters with healthy sexual appetites out of the pages of Philip Roth or John Updike. The novel's humor and use of the supernatural add spice and a surreal vision to questions of life, love and death. Brutally honest yet beautifully insightful, "Benediction" is a debut novel to be read, remembered, and read again.

About the Author
Jim Arnold is the author/director of feature film screenplays and teleplays including the documentary short "Our Brothers, Our Sons," about generational differences around HIV/AIDS in gay men. Jim has written for "Frontiers," "Variety," "Prime Health & Fitness" and other periodicals and fiction anthologies. He began his career in musical theatre and holds a BA in journalism and film from Marquette University. He has studied film production/writing in the MFA program at the University of Southern California, the Writers Program at UCLA, and at Film Arts Foundation in San Francisco. Jim lives in Los Angeles. "Benediction" is his debut novel.

"Benediction" (ISBN 9781439248577, Eureka Street Press, 2009) can be purchased through local and online bookstores. For more information, visit Publicity contact: Review copies available upon request.


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