Top critical review
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Important read with some flaws...
on June 29, 2015
This moving memoir that Paul Monette left as a tribute to his long-time partner and dearest friend, Roger Horwitz, was an eye-opening reminder of the tragedy that was the AIDS epidemic of the 1980's. I was stunned at the reality of that time period, having only lived it from our living room couch as our family watched the nightly news, growing up. It was heart-breaking to relive the terrifying moments through the eyes of someone on the frontlines of this unrelenting plague, and disturbing to learn how bigoted so many people can be.
It is always difficult to review a memoir negatively, especially one that is so apparently honest and brave. Couple that with the fact that Paul Monette certainly has a way with words, by trade, and it is even more difficult to state any negativity about the story.
Alas, I must mention a few things that caused me to rate the book only 3 stars:
Firstly, I had great difficulty keeping track of all of the friends that Mr. Monette introduced. Because there is very little opportunity to fully develop characters in a memoir, when such a large number of people are introduced, it is incredibly difficult for the reader to distinguish them. I constantly found myself referencing back to previous mentions of the characters.
Secondly, there were several unnecessary details in the novel, in addition to some name-throwing (perhaps to give himself more credibility). It was no secret that they were wealthy, and the author made that evident at every turn, much to my disdain. However, I can see why he would need to assert his wealth to demonstrate that even financially secure individuals struggled with getting the proper treatment early on in the AIDS journey.
Finally, the beginning of the novel jumped around just a little too much for me. It wasn't until midway through the novel that some seblance of the plot took place. However, once again, this is excusable in a memoir, since the usual rules just don't apply.
Overall, it was an enjoyable and tremendously important read, despite its flaws.