Category Archives: AIDS

Review: You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, by Arisa White

youre-the-most-beautiful-thing-that-happened

You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened
by Arisa White

Augury Books
2016
100 pages 

Language is at the heart of poetry, with each word carefully considered for its meaning, cadence and place. In You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, the third poetry collection from Arisa White, language is elevated and emphasized in an innovative way.

As per the publisher’s description, “Arisa White’s newest collection takes its titles from words used internationally as hate speech against gays and lesbians, reworking, re-envisioning, and re-embodying language as a conduit for art, love, and understanding.” Because many of the titles are common words that may not be readily apparent as offensive in English (but are derogatory in other countries and cultures), White includes a glossary of the words’ disparaging connotations.

(“…how sexist the language was, the fear of the feminine, how domestic, how patriarchal, how imaginative, and the beauty I discovered when I paused to wonder about the humanity inside these words and phrases,” White writes in an Introduction to You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened. While reading these poems, beauty might not be the first descriptor readers conjure up.  Arisa White’s work is raw and searing, delving into topics many find difficult and perhaps even ugly.

And that’s exactly what makes You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened a touchstone collection, especially in these unprecedented times when our societal discourse, national rhetoric and political exchanges from the likes of the Republican candidate for President of the United States (and his entourage) divulge into demeaning and crass language about women, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, immigrants, and everyone who is perceived as different, flawed, “other” or “less than.”

If words could stick on people,
if spoken, they would become
a different creature.

Blinded and you’re turned
five times around. Nothing
in you knows what it knew.

It’s the best part of the game:
Prick the girls you like best
while pinning on the donkey’s tail.
(“Tail”) 

Arisa White’s poems are rooted in words that demean and belittle  — but their transformation is a product of the inherent beauty of humanity and love for each other.  We may feel your words but we are greater than them, Arisa White seems to be saying. We are more than your hurled venom, larger than your overpowering prejudice and stronger than strangers’ stigma.

We’re queer and you look too much boy good thinking
taking the rainbow off the plates in Maryland —
no one looked at us longer than was needed.
(“Strangers”)

As humans, as a people, we are encompassed by memory; we are love, we are our losses and life combined. (“I realized that the labels we use to name present us with a loss,” White explains in her introduction. “To name a person, an experience, or an object means we see it for that purpose, that utility, and gone to us is the ‘what else’ — the possibilities of everything the label can’t encompass.”)

Together since the year of my birth,
yet you are pantomime in the wings of our family’s speech
Why do you arch in shadows, 

accept the shade eclipsing her face? 
The holidays would be more gay 
if we didn’t ghost in dead air, 
in wooden boxes, letters folded over and over again, in locked rooms
where shames are secretly arranged— 
(“Auntie”)

Nestled within You’re The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened is an elegiac suite of poems titled “Effluvium.” (I needed to look up the definition; if you need a vocabulary lesson, too, dictionary.com tells us that it is “a slight or invisible exhalation or vapor, especially one that is disagreeable or noxious.”)  These poems, a remembrance “for Karen, 1963-2000,” focus on a loved one who died of AIDS. While several other offerings in this collection are slightly vague and indirect, this suite doesn’t need backstory.  The heartbreaking loss of a young mother in her late 30s is all we need to know.

For some, these will be difficult poems for their subject matter and the rawness of the language. It’s not a collection for everyone. But at the same time, it is for everyone because all of us have known pain and all of us have seen the ugly side that life can bring. And we’ve emerged through that experience changed by the way darkness can transform into light, and ugliness into beauty.

arisa-white

About Arisa White
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow, Sarah Lawrence College alumna, an MFA graduate from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and author of the poetry chapbooks Disposition for Shininess, Post Pardon, and Black Pearl. She was selected by the San Francisco Bay Guardian for the 2010 Hot Pink List and is a member of the PlayGround writers’ pool; her play Frigidare was staged for the 15th Annual Best of Play Ground Festival. Recipient of the inaugural Rose O’Neill Literary House summer residency at Washington College in Maryland, Arisa has also received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Headlands Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Nominated for Pushcart Prizes in 2005 and 2014, her poetry has been published widely and is featured on the recording WORD with the Jessica Jones Quartet.

poetic-book-toursMany thanks to Augury Books for providing a free copy of You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened and to Poetic Book Tours for including me among the bloggers on this tour. No monetary compensation was exchanged for this review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Podcasts of the (Last Few) Weeks: Ep. 9 and 10

 

I’m behind on my Podcast of the Week posts by a few weeks, which means that you get more than the usual amount of great stuff for your listening pleasure. So much good stuff to tell you about in this “episode.” Let’s get started.

One of my recent recommendations was “The Accidental Gay Parents” from The Longest Shortest Time. I loved this story about John and Trystan’s journey as a couple and their four-year quest to officially adopt John’s niece and nephew. Their adoption was finalized earlier this month and they recently returned to The Longest Shortest Time with an update in Episode 62, “The Accidental Gay Parents 2.” IfI had to make a list of some of my most favorite stories I’ve heard via podcast, this one would be among them. (A bonus: I found out that a local blogger friend of mine has been friends with Trystan since middle school!)

“Strangers” is becoming one of my must-listen-to podcasts and the first episode I heard was  “American Mormon – International Mr. Leather.”  I am totally drawing a blank on the guy’s name, but suffice it to say, he was raised Mormon. On the podcast, he shared his family’s reaction to his news that he was gay and and the losses of several friends and partners during the AIDS epidemic. Today, as the holder of the title “International Mr. Leather,” he speaks about his life in a polyamory relationship and the parallels it has with Mormonism.

Wearing a ribbon on one’s lapel to symbolize support for a particular cause is a gesture that needs no explanation. The idea of such a ribbon originated in spring 1991 when an artists’ group in New York known as Visual Aids decided to make a simple, folded red ribbon to raise awareness of AIDS. This was during a time when AIDS was feared and people with AIDS were pariahs. With “Awareness,” episode 173 of the podcast 99% Invisible, those who were involved in creating the first AIDS ribbons reflect on the impact of their small ribbon. (7/21/2015)

On Song Exploder, Death Cab for Cutie lead singer Ben Gibbard talks about the creation of “El Dorado” from the band’s new album and the origin of the song in his divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. I include this because I really like Death Cab for Cutie.

Margaret Sullivan doesn’t do many interviews, but in the July 22 episode of Longform, she discussed her role as public editor of The New York Times. It’s a candid, insightful look at an interesting job as well as at journalism itself.

Longform gave its listeners a bonus episode on July 31 with this interview with Noreen Malone, the author of the New York Magazine piece “Cosby: The Women – An Unwanted Sisterhood.”  She discusses that powerful cover photo, the genesis for it, and the process of getting all the women to participate.

I’ll admit that I didn’t really follow all the news about the recent New Horizons’ mission to Pluto. The New Yorker Out Loud podcast’s July 20th episode “Do You Know Pluto?” was an intriguing look at this former planet – and what qualifies something to be categorized as a planet in the first place.

If you’re a ProBlogger reader, you might enjoy Darren Rowse’s new podcast, also called ProBlogger. His popular series, “31 Days to a Better Blog” is a must for newbies to this crazy blogging world and a reminder to those of us who have been doing this for awhile. (When anyone asks me if you can really make money from blogging, I’m going to direct them to Episode #32, “Can You Really Make Money Blogging?“)

I’m dying to talk to someone about Alec  Baldwin’s interview with singer-songwriter Paul Simon on “Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin” because it was … just … so… strange. I mean, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. If you’ve heard it, you know what I mean and how Paul Simon (who I really like, but a little less so after that interview) came across as a total ass.

(A much more enjoyable “Here’s the Thing” episode was Alec’s conversation with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. Listen to that instead.)

…’til next time.

 

 

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Listening to Our Better Angels: 1000 Voices for Compassion

1000Voices_zps11edff99

“One blogger shares a sentiment of compassion that resonates with another blogger. That blogger has a vision of more bloggers joining together as a whole to flood the internet with compassion much like tiny drops of water causing a ripple effect across the internet, across the world. Within two weeks over 1,000 bloggers make the commitment to share compassion individually yet together as a force so strong it takes on a life of its own because so many of us crave acts of good, positive deeds, a spark of kindness, empathy and good will that has been missing for some time.”
~ “Compassion Is In Our Nature,” as published on 1000Speak for Compassion

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” ~ Abraham Lincoln, Inauguration Address, March 4, 1861.

I’m blogging today as part of 1000 Voices for Compassion, a worldwide initiative to get a thousand bloggers to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement, care for the environment etc, and to publish these posts on the same day – today, February 20. The goal? To promote good.

It took me about two nanoseconds to sign myself up for this project. Blogging about compassion?  Easy.

Among the things I strive to do as a blogger is to use this small forum as a place to share with you what I care most about. Most of the time, that’s a good book or a new-to-me author I’ve just discovered. I enjoy sharing what I’m reading with you and I love talking about good books, especially with like-minded people.

Maybe it’s the been-doing-this-for-too-many-years nonprofit professional in me, but what I am most compelled to write about here are the stories of the people and the issues and the causes I care most about, such as:

the need for acceptance and greater understanding of people with autism and other special needs;

domestic violence and how it can leave a family shattered;

our country’s deeply flawed foster care system that allows a four-year-old girl to be all but forgotten and ignored by the Wisconsin child services agencies and professionals whose jobs are to protect her legal rights – and whom a judge has bounced from one, two, three foster homes in her four years after she was taken away screaming from the adoptive parents who loved her in their home;

the still-present reality of long-term unemployment and my belief that it will alter our country’s workforce and our economy forever;

the loss of so many creative, inspiring and loving souls to the epidemic of AIDS while our country’s leaders turned a blind eye, and why our legacy to those lost too soon must be continued striving for equal rights and protection for those identifying as LGBTQIA.

All of these topics have something in common.

Yes, they’re all ones that I have written about here.

But they are also subjects that tend to bring out the worst in people.

People with AIDS? “They deserve it.”  People who are unemployed and can’t find a job? “You must not be trying hard enough.” People who are abused by those they love? “Why don’t you just leave?” People who have a child with special needs? “You wanted to be a parent, so stop complaining.”

This is tame compared to what you’ll find on the comments section of certain websites or blogs or newspapers.  The haters are rabid – and becoming even more so. I’m not sure why people feel the need to be so nasty. Whether it’s the sanctity of feeling safe behind a computer screen under the cloak of anonymity or whether we’re just so hyper-stressed that we need to vent and take our anger out on some unsuspecting person or whether we are just so desperate to be heard, I don’t know.

So what do we do? I don’t know the answer but one thing I’ve started doing is not reading the comments – or, trying not to, anyway. Mainly my reasons are that it’s a time vacuum and also unhealthy for one’s soul. Even a few minutes spent with the comments makes one bereft of feeling – or, at the very least, numb. Not reading the comments is not feeding the beast, and it isn’t polluting my sense of compassion toward others.

(Edited to add: I need to clarify this based on, ironically, a comment from earlier today: I read all the comments here. What I’m talking about are the comment sections in the online editions of the newspaper or certain websites or whatever that just seem to fuel the crazy. With the exception of certain posts – mostly the adoption ones  – this isn’t much of an issue here on my blog. .)

I admit, there have been several posts where I’ve wondered if I should “go there.” I’m not a big-time blogger. I’m not going to change the world.

But deciding not to post about certain controversial issues doesn’t help with awareness and genuine healing. Because it’s a collective effort that starts with one person realizing a different perspective and gaining understanding.

We won’t get there if we don’t address the negativity and the snark that is so prevalent while re-committing ourselves to turn outward – not inward – toward others. And the good thing is, it’s easier to do than we think.

Notice those who are struggling and those who have suffered. As the quote (attributed to many people) goes, “Be kind, for we are all fighting a hard battle.”

Extend a hand or a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on.

Be proactive in asking someone how you can help, or … just help.

Only then will we be able to fully hear the still and emerging voices inside us:

The song of our better angels.

To read links of #1000Speak Compassion posts from bloggers all over the world, click here.  

 

 

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The Sunday Salon: Reflecting on a Year of Reading

The Sunday Salon

Here we are, at the first Sunday Salon of 2015. As trite as it sounds, it really is hard to believe another year has passed.

Reading-wise, this was a pretty good year for me. I finished 2014 having met my Goodreads challenge goal of 75 books read – although to do so I was literally reading right up until the clock struck midnight. I was in the midst of Blue Horses by Mary Oliver when I heard the chants of “Ten! Nine! Eight! Seven ….” on TV. (I may have gone a little into 2015 with this one. No big deal, right? I mean, we’re only talking books here, not a matter of life and death.)

Before telling you about Favorite Books Read in 2014, some statistics.

Number of Books Read = 75
Number of Pages Read = 9,620
Number of Magazines/Literary Journals Read = 15
Number of Audiobooks Listened To = 22 (I am pretty sure this is a personal record)
How Many Days of Listening That Equals = 9.6
Average Number of Days It Took Me to Finish a Book = 4.6
Number of Books I Started but Could Not Finish and Abandoned = 11
My Average Rating of a Book = 3.5
Authors Who Were New to Me = 39
Authors Who I’d Read Previously = 36
Female Authors Read = 48
Male Authors Read = 27

I very rarely choose a Best Book of the Year.  (Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done so in my six years of blogging). However, I decided to do so this year because the book was so incredibly well-written and so moving. My choice is at the conclusion of this post. Now, without further ado, here are my favorites in Fiction, Poetry, Memoir, Nonfiction, Short Stories, Essays, and Historical Fiction.

Fiction
I read 19 books in this category and as usual, this was my most popular genre of choice. If I had to choose my Best Fiction Book Read in 2014, it would be History of the Rain by Niall Williams, which was nominated for The Man Booker Prize.

History of the Rain

As very, very close runners up (and in alphabetical order), I also loved:

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, by Chris Bohjalian
Frances and Bernard

Frances and Bernard, by Carlene Bauer

Perfect

Perfect, by Rachel Joyce

Station Eleven

Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel

Transatlantic

Transatlantic, by Colum McCann

The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar, by Sylvia Plath

Poetry
This was the year I re-discovered poetry, having read 16 volumes of it.  It was perfect for reading at lunch or right before falling asleep. I’m grateful to the co-worker who introduced me to the work of Olena Kalytiak Davis (And Her Soul Out of Nothing) and I enjoyed reading Pittsburgh poet Rachel Mennies (The Glad Hand of God Points Backward) and I believe Mary Oliver’s Blue Horses is one of her best volumes in recent years.  However, one book stands out for me and that’s Gabriel: A Poem by Edward Hirsch, which is why it is my Best Poetry Book Read in 2014.

Gabriel

Memoirs
Very close behind poetry was the memoir genre, always one of my favorites. I read 15 memoirs this year, so this was another difficult category to choose just one selection.  All of these listed here were outstanding in their own right and I loved them all for very different reasons. My choice for Best Memoir Read in 2014 was Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan.

Glitter and Glue

 

Others well worth mentioning:

Hope for a Sea Change

 Hope for a Sea Change, by Elizabeth Aquino

In the Body of the World

 In the Body of the World, by Eve Ensler

Nest. Flight. Sky.

Nest. Flight. Sky. On love and loss, one wing at a time, by Beth Kephart

Nonfiction
I read 12 nonfiction books and enjoyed the majority of what I read, but the one that stands out to me as being the Best Nonfiction Book Read in 2014 is Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir, by Beth Kephart.

Handling the Truth

Runners-up included Five Days at Memorial by Sheri Fink, which I listened to on audio …

Five Days at Memorial

… and Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth About Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar – Your Brain’s Silent Killers, by David Perlmutter, MD.

Grain Brain

Short Story Collections
I’m surprised that I only read 3 short story collections last year. (Must remedy that in 2015!) I loved Jess Walter’s novels The Financial Lives of the Poets and Beautiful Ruins, and his short story collection We Live in Water is equally brilliant. It gets my vote for Best Short Story Collection Read in 2014. 

We Live in Water

Runner-up is Maile Meloy’s Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It.

Both Ways is the Only Way I Want It

I also want to make mention of two new-to-me short story writers who I discovered from reading “One Story.” Two of the best short stories I read last year were “Cool City” by Chuck Augello (8/25/2014, Issue #195) and “Fear Itself” by Katie Coyle (5/20/2014, Issue #192). I love this publication and writers like Chuck and Katie are two of the reasons why.

Historical Fiction 
With only 3 historical fiction books read last year, I’m hoping to increase that number in 2015 because I’m finding that I really enjoy this genre.  My pick for Best Historical Fiction Read in 2014 was Mrs. Poe by Lynn Cullen.

Mrs. Poe

I also really liked Drood by Dan Simmons, which I listened to on audio. (It was one of my favorite audio books of the year.)

Drood

Essays
I really liked each of the 3 essay collections I read this year, which included Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace, by Anne Lamott; and Once I Was Cool, by Megan Stielstra. However, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage, by Ann Patchett gets my vote for Best Essay Collection Read in 2014.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage

One of the highlights of my 2014 was having the chance to meet several wonderful authors, including Colum McCann, David McCullough, and Ann Patchett. When I met Ann, I told her that I was interested in reading The Magician’s Assistant because I was writing a novel set in the midst of the AIDS epidemic.

“Oh, no, no, no. Forget The Magician’s Assistant,” she said, dismissing her own book with a wave of her hand and reaching for a Post-It note. “You need to read Borrowed Time by Paul Monette.”

And so, over the Fourth of July weekend, I did. And I could not put it down. I knew, the moment I finished it, that it would either be the best book I read all year or a strong contender. As I wrote in my review of Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, there isn’t a single page where Paul Monette doesn’t leave a piece of his heart while taking part of his reader’s.

For that and many other reasons, I give you Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir by Paul Monette as my Best Book Read in 2014. 

Borrowed Time

This year-end wrap up gives me a chance to say thank you to all who read this blog. I’m so grateful to each and every one of you. As is the case for most bloggers, doing what we do (in my case, sharing my thoughts on the books I’m reading) is something we do for fun, not to get rich. That’s certainly the case here. I’m not planning any changes here for 2015 and I’m not going anywhere.

Here’s to more great books and more great conversations in the New Year!

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first a closet, then a world / world aids day

Longwood Gardens (31)

Longwood Gardens Indoor Children’s Garden, Chadds Ford, PA, January 2010 ~ m.firman

“If you put enough closets together, you have enough space for a room. If you put enough rooms together, you have space for a house. If you put enough houses together, you have space for a town, then a city, then a nation, then a world.”

~ David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing, pg. 61

 

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Book Review: Dog Years, a memoir, by Mark Doty

Dog Years

Dog Years: A Memoir
by Mark Doty
Harper Collins
2007 

I confess – I am not much of a dog person.

I am, however, very much of a Mark Doty person. Whatever that guy writes I will gladly read.

And the way Mark Doty writes of his golden retriever Beau and his black retriever Arden in Dog Years makes me want to go right out and adopt 10 dogs. One of every color and size, it doesn’t matter. I want them all.

I adore this book, just like I adore all of Mark Doty’s other books I’ve read. That’s because this isn’t a dog book in the traditional sense. Like Doty’s much-acclaimed memoir Heaven’s Coast (which may be the one book of his I haven’t read…yet), Dog Years is Mark Doty’s memoir chronicling his partner Wally’s passing from AIDS and beginning a new life. It’s about the healing power that Beau – who was adopted as a companion for Wally as he was dying – gave to him during his time of grief – and about how we find strength to look forward in the midst of sorrow.

“Can hope really be in vain, can you be harmed by hope? Obviously, there is hope that amounts to nothing, in terms of the wished-for result, the longed-for cure, the desired aim. But is that hope in vain, is it simply lost? Or can we say that there’s some way it makes a contribution to the soul – as if one had been given some internal version of those steroid shots, a dose of strengthening?

Hope is leaven; it makes things rise without effort. I have moved forward at times without hope, when Wally was sick and dying, and there wasn’t a thing in the world to do but ease his way. Without hope, you hunker down and do what needs to be done in this hour; you do not attend to next week. It is somehow like writing without any expectation or belief that one will ever be read – only worse, since a Dickinson secreting her poems away in private folios sewn by hand expects, at some unknowable time, her treasure to be found, her words to be read. Hopelessness means you do the work at hand without looking for a future.” (pg. 120)

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review: Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir, by Paul Monette

Borrowed TimeBorrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir
by Paul Monette
Harcourt Brace Jovanovich
1988
342 pages 

During a critique session, someone in my writing group asked me about my motivation for my novel-in-progress. It’s set in the midst of the AIDS epidemic and is a young adult novel based on real-life experiences. It’s a story that I’m compelled to tell for several reasons.

I thought about my answer for a minute before responding to my friend.

“I don’t want this story to be forgotten,” I said simply, adding that for my kids’ generation, the fear and the panic of AIDS – not to mention the blatant indifference from the government – has become the stuff of ancient history.

Borrowed Time brings it all back.

Paul Monette’s memoir about caring for his partner Roger Horwitz during his fight with AIDS is, without a doubt, one of the most powerfully affecting memoirs I’ve ever read – about AIDS or otherwise. It doesn’t matter that this was published in 1988. This is timeless.

Drawing heavily from Paul’s journals, Borrowed Time has a chronological feel to it, giving the reader the feeling of being in medias res during the nineteen months from Roger’s diagnosis in March 1985 to his death in October 1986.  It’s unabashedly human and raw, as Paul spills emotions of anger and frustration, admitting what he doesn’t remember and portraying vividly what he does.

Living with AIDS feels akin to living on the moon, Paul writes, and that metaphor – along with the symbolism of light and dark – shows up frequently in Borrowed Time. In 1985, that’s how it was; AIDS patients and those caring for them were very much on a different planet than the rest of society.

The writing in Borrowed Time is spectacularly gorgeous. There’s not a single page where Paul Monette doesn’t leave a piece of his heart while taking part of his reader’s.

“Hope had left us so unprepared. We had grown so grateful for little things. Out of nowhere you go from light to dark, from winning to losing, go to sleep murmuring thanks and wake to an endless siren. The honeymoon was over, that much was clear. Now we would learn to borrow time in earnest, day by day, making what brief stays we could against the downward spiral from which all our wasted brothers did not return.” (pg. 183)

Borrowed Time is a lot of things. It’s a roller-coaster ride; one minute Roger is well and the next he is near death. It’s a testament to the bond of friendship, because not only do Paul and Roger have a support system of close friends, they also know the right people in 1985 to be able to access drugs like suramin and AZT and protocols that buy Roger extra time.

Borrowed Time is maddening as hell, because of what we know now. (“It will be recorded that the dead in the first decade of the calamity died of our indifference.” (pg. 18).

It’s about family. “Craig’s mother cut him off one night as he complained about the blood tests and the circular doctors’ appointments: ‘Listen, this whole thing is your own fault. I don’t really want to hear about it.’ That turns out to be rather mild, and at least it’s honest. The real hell is the family sitting in green suburbia while the wasting son shuttles from friend to friend in a distant place, unembraced and disowned until the will is ready to be contested. And even that is to be preferred to the worst of all, being deported back to the flat earth of a rural fundamentalist family, who spit their hate with folded hands, transfigured by the justice of their bumper-sticker God.” (p. 205)

It’s about the very real emotions of being the primary caregiver for someone who is terminally ill. It gets at the unbearable burden of secrecy that was absolutely necessary to protect the people we loved.

Above all, Borrowed Time is a story about what it means to truly love someone. It’s impossible to come away from this without realizing how very much in love Paul and Roger were, which is part of what gives this memoir its overwhelming sadness.

Paul Monette died of AIDS in 1995, nine years after Roger’s passing. From a literary perspective, the mind reels at the loss of such an immensely talented writer as Paul Monette. It’s impossible not to think of what might have been if things had been different, in so many ways.

5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

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