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Publisher's Summary

Brilliantly funny, frank, and shattering, this is the bittersweet memoir by Peter McGough of his life with artist David McDermott. Set in New York’s Lower East Side of the 1980s and mid-1990s, it is also a devastatingly candid look at the extreme naiveté and dysfunction that would destroy both their lives.

Escaping the trauma of growing up gay in Syracuse and being bullied at school, McGough attended art school in New York, dropped out, and took out jobs in clubs, where he met McDermott. Dazzled by McDermott, whom he found fascinating and worldly, McGough agreed to collaborate with him not only on their art but also in McDermott’s very entertaining Victorian lifestyle. McGough evokes the rank and seedy East Village of that time, where he encountered Keith Haring, Rene Ricard, Kenny Scharf, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, and Jacqueline and Julian Schnabel, among many others. Nights were spent at the Ninth Circle, Danceteria, and Studio 54; going to openings at the FUN Gallery; or visiting friends in the Chelsea Hotel. By the mid-1980s, McDermott & McGough were hugely successful, showing at three Whitney Biennials, represented by the best galleries here and abroad, and known for their painting, photography and “time experiment” interiors. Then, overnight, it was all gone. And one day in the mid-1990s, McGough would find that he, like so many of his friends, had been diagnosed with AIDS. 

I’ve Seen the Future and I’m Not Going is a compelling memoir for our time, told with humor and compassion, about how lives can become completely entwined even in failure and what it costs to reemerge, phoenix-like, and carry on.

©2019 Peter McGough (P)2019 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Peter McGough has written the most authentic, tragic, and inspiring memoir of the 1980s at scene ever: a tale not merely of death and rebirth but of re-death and re-rebirth. It’s beautifully wrought with amazing detail, names named, twists and turns, and recollections of twentieth-century New York City, worthy of a nineteenth-century novelist.” (Isaac Mizrahi, author of I.M.: A Memoir)

“A Manhattan feast of artists, eccentrics, oddballs, users, queens, collectors, grifters, and saints. The witty, wily McGough captures the highs and lows of New York City in its gritty, everything-goes prime while painting the story of a young misfit artist in search of himself.” (Christopher Bollen, author of The Destroyers)

“A rags-to-riches story of some of the most uncompromising artists you’ve ever encountered - a gay couple full of charm and heroism. This is essential reading for every aspiring creative nonconformist.” (Edmund White, author of City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and ‘70s)

What listeners say about I've Seen the Future and I'm Not Going

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Funny, endearing, and soul-baringly frank

As an artist, working in a reclusive studio where I spend most of my waking hours, I'm always on the lookout for artist autobiographies/biographies. It's a solace to me to hear how other artist's get through life. One of my favorites, in this genre, was Ninth Street Women by Mary Gabriel. A lot of the contemporary art scene, in the U.S. seems to have emerged from hole-in-the-wall studios on the streets of New York. I find it interesting to hear about these emerging art scenes through different perspectives and in different eras. McGough's is an intriguing story-- told (and read by him) with humor and directness, and includes accounts of not only McGough's personal experiences, but also of what was happening in the larger world (and art scene), at the time. McGough comes across as very endearing and brave, despite his self-professed lack of confidence. I listened to it while painting, and it flew by with rarely a dull moment.


8 people found this helpful

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Best narration!

At first I didn’t know if I was going to like Peter McGough’s narration style – – but it quickly grew on me. I loved the way he affected the voices of all the kooky characters in the book. I had studied McDermott and in graduate school, but I never knew anything about their personal lives and all of the different political and cultural milestones they lived through. For me, the story was over way too soon and I hope he writes more in the future.

4 people found this helpful

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A Walk on the Weird Side

Peter McGough is a wonderfully vivid and funny writer who has lived a life of immense excess and eccentricity. It's hard to keep track of all the apartments, houses, studios, and bank buildings he and his partner, David McDermott, rented, bought, redecorated, abandoned, and/or were evicted from. At a certain point, I stopped trying. Ditto the ups and downs of their career as artists, from abject poverty to crazy buying sprees to losing everything to the IRS. This is lively portrait of what happens when you make your life an experimental work of art. It's a time capsule in several senses of the word and a hugely entertaining book. At times, i found it hard to stop listening, even though I wanted to clobber McDermott for his obsessive nuttiness and McGough for allowing himself to fall under its spell.

The real star of the audiobook is McGough's performance. He brings every character to life using voices, accents, mimicry, and attitude. His voice is a combination of David Sedaris and Truman Capote. It's an over-the-top performance that is absolutely riveting and hilarious. Brilliant!

The whole book is a wild ride (quite harrowing when he describes his experience with AIDS) and highly recommended.

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Beautiful and extraordinary.

This audio has so much personality. It is a great feat of telling stories of the art community in the 1980’s. This is history and, as the book says, “art is history “

3 people found this helpful

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The best kind of audiobook

A blending of history, art, a unique lived experience, trash, New York, several vanished worlds, hilarity, suffering and a lot more. Entertaining and not at all a waste of time.

2 people found this helpful

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Best book last year

this is the best performed book of 2021...how did not win a prize? Please revote and award this reader. At times I fell off my chair laughing.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant, honest and moving recollections.

The range of this memoir is something to behold. It is a precious time capsule from the voice of someone who has transcended the darkness of extreme loss and extreme gain. The absolute truth of the true artist’s life.

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Fantastic

Interesting and entertaining. The author reads his book and does a great job, he colored even the most disturbing parts of the book with humor. I highly recommend this book.