Monette, Paul. Afterlife. New York: Avon Books, 1990.
Reason read: June is Gay Pride month in some states. In other places it is in May, so I started this early in honor of both months.
The very first word that comes to mind when trying to describe Afterlife is heartbreaking. Taking place at the “start” of the AIDs epidemic in the heart of United State’s “ground zero” in San Francisco, it tells the story of a group of gay men trying to make sense of the horrific disease while coping with personal loss. Facing their own mortality, each man has lost a partner to AIDs but display very different coping mechanisms as they have very different support systems. They form a Saturday night support group of survivors, each asking themselves, but for how long? This is a story of courage; the willingness to live and love in the face of death.
Quotes to quote, “There were enough coffins to come” (p 224) and “This worthy man, terminally unctuous but otherwise bland as a serial killer, insisted on driving them up to the North Garden in his own Cadillac” (p 256).
Author fact: Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts.
Book trivia: this should have been a movie.
Nancy said: This was included in Book Lust because it fit in the category of “Books with characters who are gay or lesbian” (p 95).
BookLust Twist: from Book Lust in the chapter called “Gay and Lesbian Fiction: Our of the Closet” (p 93).
June is going to go by lightning fast. For starters, there is a concert in Bangor, Maine that I cannot wait for! Then, a concert at home. After that, a week later, an art show reception for my talented sister’s work. Then, a vacation with my best friend (Maine for the third weekend in a row). I will have many opportunities to read. Hence, the huge list:
- Confessing a Murder by Nicholas Drayson – in honor of the first month of boating weather (EB & print).
- Stories of Alice Adams by Alice Adams – June is short story month (EB & print).
- Afterlife by Paul Monette – in honor of gay and lesbian pride month (EB & print).
- Jar City by Arnaldur Andridason – National Icelandic Day is in June (AB).
- Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Middle East by Michael B. Oren – the Six Day War started in June.
- Cactus Eaters: How I Lost My Mind and Almost Found Myself by Dan White – June is national hiking month.
- I Dreamed of Africa by Kuki Gallman – in honor of Gallman’s birth month.
- Mindfulness Meditation by Jon Kabat-Zinn – in honor of Zinn’s birth month.
- Pearl Cove by Elizabeth Lowell – to continue the series started in April in honor of Lowell’s birth month.
- Envoy From Mirror City by Janet Frame – to finish the series started in April in honor of New Zealand’s Anzac Day.
Downing, Michael. Breakfast With Scot. Washington, D.C.: Counterpoint, 1999.
Less than 200 pages long this was a quick, in-one-sitting read. At first blush I would call this story “quirky” for the simple fact that all of the characters have their issues. What makes this fun to read is how they deal with those issues as well as each other. This is a story about relationships and relating to people around you. The point of view is told from Italian art magazine editor, Ed. Ed and his chiropractor partner, Sam, have become guardians to eleven year old Scot. Scot doesn’t fit in for a multitude of reasons. For one, Ed and Sam have never wanted children. For another, Scot is the child of Sam’s brother’s girlfriend, only the brother is not the biological father. Topping it all of is Scot’s unique personality; his affinity for hand soaps and charm bracelets. While Ed and Sam are homosexuals they are not sure how to deal with Scot on any of these levels. As the reader you want them to not only work it out but work it out as a happy ending.
Poignant line: “But Scot’s the kind of kid other kids push down and kick simply because of the way he puts his hand on his hip” (p 50). This line sums up the entire book.
Reason read: November is national adoption month and while Ed and Sam don’t “adopt” Scot, per se, they are legal guardians.
Author fact: Michael Downing is a local boy, growing up to the west of me and working to the east.
Book trivia: Breakfast with Scot was made into a movie in 2007.
BookLust Twist: From More Book Lust in the chapter called “Adapting to Adoption” (p 1).
Baldwin, James. “Giovanni’s Room.” Early Novels and Stories. New York: Library of America, 1998. 221 – 360.
I want to say Giovanni’s Room is ground breaking but that’s only because it puts homosexuality front and center at a time when one’s sexual orientation wasn’t so openly discussed (1956). The beauty of the story is that it could take place today or tomorrow in any city or town on the planet. Admitting homosexuality isn’t any easier today than it was over a half century ago. Giovanni’s Room has been called autobiographical because it mirrors Baldwin’s personal life: an American expatriate living in France openly engaged to a woman while secretly attracted to men. David is constantly questioning his manhood because he seeks the company of men. His engagement to Hella is nothing more than a cover for his true desires. When his Italian bartender/lover is accused of murder David’s world falls apart. More than the plot, Baldwin’s writing much be savored. The pictures he paints are raw and honest.
Favorite line: “And we got on quite well, really, for the vision I gave my father of my life was exactly the vision in which I myself most desperately needed to believe” (p 235). I think that is the most telling line of the whole story.
Author Fact: Baldwin was a child Pentecostal preacher before the age of 17. He died of stomach cancer in his early 60s.
BookLust Twist: From Book Lust in the chapter called “African American Fiction: He Says” (p 10).