“Awash in grief three weeks after the sudden death of the love-of-my-life, I stumbled on a tangle of secrets. My husband, with whom I had shared my bed, my body, my heart and soul, had had another life, a sex life with men.”
So writes Vermont author Sally Ryder Brady, whose book on love, marriage, secrecy, and grief was released just before Valentine’s Day in 2010. A Box of Darkness is Brady’s account of her 45-year marriage to Atlantic Monthly publishing executive Upton Brady.
The author will sign books and read selected excerpts from A Box of Darkness at the Steynberg Gallery, 1531 Monterey St. in San Luis Obispo, on April 29, at 6 p.m. Brady is also, weirdly enough, the second cousin of San Luis Obispo local Bob Liepman, one half of the popular musical duo Bob and Wendy—who will open the event with a few choice tunes.
Brady’s romance with Upton began in 1956, when she was just 17 years old. Upton, she wrote, dazzled her with his grace and elegance. They didn’t meet again until 1961, but when they did, it was the start of a yearlong courtship. They married the following year.
There had been signs along the way, but it was only after his death that the truth came tumbling out: Upton was gay.
A Box of Darkness garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews from the likes of Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and The New York Times, who called it “well written and moving.” But Brady has also found the reactions of everyday people to her book and her readings just as inspiring—people with drastically different lives from hers.
“The idea of secrecy seems to be a common thread,” the author said in a phone interview.
Is it hard to do public readings of such personal material?
“There are a couple of places where my voice catches a bit,” Brady said—especially, she added, when looking up to a sea of kind, generous faces.
“I just look at the nice, friendly black letters on the page, and then it’s OK.”