The Official Story

Mason Stokes is a professor of English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, where he teaches African American literature and queer fiction. In addition to his scholarly writing, Stokes is the author of the adult novel Saving Julian and the personal essay “Namesake,” which was selected for inclusion in the 2016 edition of Best American Essays. All the Truth I Can Stand is his young-adult debut.


The Slightly Less-Official Story

At the age of twelve, Mason Stokes thought he was a New York Jewish intellectual. Turns out he was just a gay southerner with a fondness for early-period Woody Allen. But since both options would have gotten him beaten up, he made other choices, devoting himself to quiet study, courtly manners, and non-threatening outfits. 

This led naturally to an English major (the last refuge of scoundrels), where he found himself obsessed with Russian literature, an obsession he abandoned after failing, on repeated tries, to make it more than halfway through The Brothers Karamazov

In college, his homosexuality was solidified by his experience playing drums in cover bands at frat parties, where he watched drunk boys whisper the chorus of “Feel Like Making Love” into their girlfriends’ ears during slow dances. From this he never fully recovered.

Despite his failure with Dostoevsky, novels were the only things that made sense to him, so he enrolled in a graduate program, where this sense was slowly beaten out of him. He enjoyed this experience, and hoped to inflict it on others, which he was finally able to do when he became an English professor.

Along the way he dated scores of men, to whom he sincerely apologizes. 

Then he met John.