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Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir Paperback – June 1, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Wrenching in its detail, this account of the author's final two years with his companion and "beloved friend" Roger Horwitz, who died of AIDS in 1986, personalizes the epidemic's appalling statistics with heartbreaking clarity. Poet and novelist Monette (Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog) applies admirable candor and control to the task of chronicling the suffering endured in the months between the diagnosis and death of the man with whom he had spent over 10 years. Monette brings to the narrative a poet's eye for the telling image or metaphor, and makes this far more than a simple compendium of medical disasters: the memoir transcends the particulars of the AIDS epidemic to stand as an eloquent testimonial to the power of love and the devastation of loss, the courage of the ill and the anger, fear and dedication of their loved ones. Despite its universal resonances, the book is perhaps most valuable as a vital addition to the literature of the AIDS epidemic. Affluent and exceptionally well connected in the L.A. gay elite, Horwitz was no typical AIDS patient: Monette maneuvered him into various experimental programs (he was the first AIDS patient west of the Mississippi to have access to AZT), and the firsthand glimpse of the "netherworld of the sick," negotiating the byzantine route to the next "magic bullet" offers vivid confirmation of the human cost of the government's initial policy of informed neglect. "A gay man seeks his history in mythic fragments, random as blocks of stone in the ruins covered in Greek characters, gradually being erased in the summer rain," the author writes of a trip to Greece he and Horwitz took shortly before the diagnosis. Monette's moving history is just such a fragment for future generations, a touchstone reference to a tragic time that we cannot allow to be erased.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

"Why don't you write about this? Nobody else does." These words, from one of the doctors treating Monette's lover Roger Horwitz during his well-fought but losing battle with AIDS, prompted this book. Purged of the tendency toward jeremiad he displayed in Love Alone ( LJ 4/1/88), poems written during the last months of Rog's life, Monette has fused "unresolved rage" with eloquence to produce a gripping, accessible, and essential book. Monette captures the everyday minutiae and roller coaster emotions of living with AIDS, taking us from his first personal exposure to the epidemic via an old friend, through the 19 months between Rog's diagnosis and death. Monette's solipsistic dedication to a community of prosperous, white gay men can be annoying, but the book's strength is that it is always annoyingly, believably real. BOMC alternate.Rob Schmieder, Boston
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (June 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156005816
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156005814
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #163,330 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I can add nothing original to the wave of praises about this book from the other reviewers. I really appreciated the honesty of his narration, even down to the minute and unpleasant thoughts of what could have happened (or who gave the virus to whom). Though his opinions on his lover may be biased, both of them you felt intensely likeable. It's very hard not to--both of them are obviously intelligent and talented, led interesting lives and have friends just as colourful.
As gutwrenching as the AIDS shadowed over Roger's deterioration, the book read like a love story to me. Not just the love between Roger and Paul, which doesn't remind me of them being gay in particular, but two people with a long term relationship who struggle to be together till death do them apart, as cliche as it may sound.
As a Chinese gay man living in Hong Kong, I find the notion of my parents/relatives knowing about my identity, let alone my lover or even 'worse', a sickness, impossible. Yet, the book also showed poignantly the unconditional love and care any parents are willing to give to their children, no matter how grown up or far apart they have become.
Paul Monette has certainly spoken for a lot of HIV+ people in his era, people who never had a chance to speak for themselves. Most people would not have time or the nerve to write about something as horrible as their own illnesses.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Frank Cunat on February 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Paul Monette in this book describes in harrowing detail the final months in the life of his lover Roger, and how Roger's deterioration affected both men and their relationship. The depth of feeling Monette conveys is remarkable; he writes with a candor and a beauty that bring tears to your eyes. We share Monette's sense of pain and loss. If you've ever known anyone with a terminal illness, this book is devastating, and even if you haven't, there's no way you can remain unmoved.
People sometimes ask how it felt to be a gay man in the 1980s while the spread of AIDS was running unchecked. This powerful book gives the best answer I can imagine.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Redheadpolyglot on July 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I don't live under a rock but even still, being a gay male in the 90s, I can honestly say I don't know anyone with AIDS. Consequently, I have never had to endure the loss of losing someone I love to the disease without a cure. Yet I still found myself drawn to Paul's story about his struggle with the deterioration of his partner, Roger. After reading Becoming a Man, I progressed to this part of Paul's autobiography, expecting it to be much like the other part of the story. However, it wasn't. Not at all. The book introduced the tragedy of what occurs when good people experience horrid things. I couldn't believe Roger was actually dying throughout the book. He and Paul seemed so happy together; they had finally proven to the world that they, a gay couple, could survive in American society. Then the disease hit. What a loss, even with the AZT treatment, even with the constant barrage of doctor's appointments. I suppose this book made me aware that life, like I had heard so many times before, is not fair. If it were Roger would not have died and Paul would not have followed him seven years later.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By JackOfMostTrades on September 30, 2004
Format: Paperback
I listened to Paul Monette read from his memoir on a recorded book; and the experience was unforgettable, profound, wholly human, and perhaps the best meditation on love I've ever read. Without going into the details of the 1980's AIDS "scene," which this book also authentically and accurately portrays, this "love story" depicts and explored and revealed so tenderly and so poetically that it should be placed on all the bookstores in the relatinship section of the major chains--and recommended for straight and gay couples. And while the booksellers are at it, they should remainder all the John Gray, Dr. Phil and every other "author" who address relationships in a vapid, moronic, demeaning way. This book may be the best argument for "gay marriage," although I hesitate in recommending this in fear that such a beautiful relationship as portrayed in this work could be subsumed under such a shaky institution. It would also be a d_mn good book for heterosexual, especially "conservative Christian" couples, men and women to read together: Not necessarily to change minds about the law, but at least to change misconceived perceptions about their fellow humans. And a note to women, if you would like your guy to be a better "listener" and a better "lover," read this book--not those goofball "women's magazines." This book might also make some right-wing ideologues re-think some of their kneeejerk definitions of "values" and realize that perhaps it is their values that need some looking into, or as peanuts said, "We have met the enemy and it is us."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "d_moi" on June 12, 2002
Format: Paperback
I had to take two days off from work when I started this book because I just couldnt make myself put it down.
Paul (I write in Frankness because by the end of the book all the charecters become like Family) writes with such simplicity and command that one feels like sitting by a campside listening to a wise man tell a heart wrenching tale.
Moreover, one thing i really admired about monette was that he doesnt try to gain sympathy by cashing in on his life. He doesnt use over dramatization as tools of deploying tears!
I really loved the ending because it brought such a fatal blow and with so little effort that the readers themselves had to grieve.
Furthermore, I learnt a wealth of information about HIV and AIDS from this book. Plus I just couldnt believe the red-tapism in the USA medical system. It really made me angry.
Read this book , Pronto!!
May Paul and his lover rest in peace!!
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