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4.9 out of 5 stars64
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on December 13, 1999
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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on February 2, 2000
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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on July 4, 1999
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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on September 30, 2004
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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on January 5, 2014
I grew up in the 80's, when AIDS was just setting in the country. We knew little about it then and it was pretty much a death sentence to any poor soul who contracted it. Borrowed time is a love story to Paul Monette;s longtime companion. It follows the path of the disease, from first finding out to the final stages, and eventually, death. Monette, who also died of AIDS in 1995, recounts the fear, anger, denial and all the stages of grief throughout the two years his companion battled the disease. Never before have I read anything so heartfelt and true. His heart is literally an open book in Borrowed Time. Anger at the government for ignoring what was quickly becoming a pandemic issue and the ignorant members of the public that felt AIDS was God's judgement on homosexuals. I dare you to read this book and not be transformed.
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on June 12, 2002
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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on May 28, 1999
Nothing I have ever read has moved me like this book; even though the medical side of HIV is far better these days, those of us in the war are still going through the same emotions. I cannot believe how brave Monette was to share all this with us, yet I know stories like these need to be told. He does a creditable job of holding in his anger, as I'm sure even today he must still be very bitter towards those who made treatment so long in coming. This is an incredibly powerful book, a testament to love and a terrible indictment of our society and some of our values. Everyone should read this book; while it's a true emotional roller coaster, and ultimately heartbreaking, it's only through works like this that we can hope for a broader understanding of what HIV means for the patient and their family. My thanks to Paul Monette for sharing this ordeal.
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on December 5, 2013
I read Monette's book first in 98 when it was published, 13 years and one country later, it was still on my mind, and I had to have a copy of my own for the house . Some books change you .this is one of those books. If you did not live through the hight if the AIDS crisis, and want an inside view, this book is what you're looking for. If you like a good love story, this book is for you. If you like a good tragedy , this is for you. The characters warm and relatable , Monette writes this book and makes you feel like a member of his family . He's a terribly interesting guy to begin with, so story aside the biographical part is worth reading , but , this is one of those hooks that left me in tears, and had me feeling as though I had been through a battle along side the author . All I can say is read it!
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on February 4, 2007
"I don't know if I will live to finish this," begins this memoir by Paul Monette, who would ultimately live only seven years after he did complete it (and, auspiciously, several other works). Monette's account is a chronicle of the last days of his lover Roger Horwitz in 1985 and 1986: a mere nineteen months between diagnosis and death. It's an emotionally devastating portrait; yet, far from wallowing in his grief (although grieve he does), Monette instead describes this period as a battle to extend Roger's life and a determination to seize every remaining day and make the most of it.

An AIDS diagnosis in 1985, in Los Angeles, doomed the couple to an unwanted pioneer status; it was a "death sentence" mitigated only by hope and delusion. For the first half of the decade, Paul and Roger comforted themselves with the notion that the disease, whatever it was, confined itself to a certain group of fast-living libertines ("not us") in San Francisco and Los Angeles. When the reality hit home, the initial method of coping, shared to different degrees by themselves and by their friends (and particularly by Roger's brother), was a mixture of mortification and denial.

Once Roger became ill, however, the couple fought tooth and nail to pursue every potential pharmaceutical elixir or therapeutic panacea; they were on the vanguard of trials for suramin (with devastating side effects) and for the more successful "Compound S" (AZT), which Monette credits for extending Roger's life. Throughout, they struggled to present a united front of normalcy and optimism, with Roger attempting to practice law from his hospital bed and Paul flying to New York for meetings in the Russian Tea Room with the newly famous Whoopi Goldberg about an ultimately doomed screenplay ("it must've dismayed her considerably to think that this humorless man sipping broth and Coca-Cola was meant to be her breakthrough into feature comedy").

Still, if it's possible to say that one can be "fortunate" in such circumstances, Roger and Paul had the only advantages available at the time: money, connections, and (mostly) supportive family and friends. In spite of the sequence of crises and disappointments, they somehow managed to find time to laugh and to love amidst the anger and the betrayals; Monette's wit and fair-mindedness saves this work from overwhelming the reader with morbid pity and depression. Paul and Roger were often too busy chasing hope to pause and wallow; those moments were often saved for the morning. ("Waking teaches you pain.") What's most remarkable about this book is not the riveting and livid account from the front of the epidemic--such memoirs are plentiful--but the lyrical and even humorous appreciation of the "borrowed time" remaining to these two admirable profiles in courage.
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on January 18, 2014
I could not put this book down. Normally a speed reader, I forced myself to slow down to savor the writing as well as the tribute. I sat with him through the terror, the confusion and anger. He invited me there. He raged, he loved, he quaked with the terror of watching death. I have been in his seat and he captured it all in beautiful phrases.
I wanted to write to Paul Monette to share my love of his work but alas he too had died from AIDS. He lives on through this beautiful work that also records the epidemic in its full blown horror. A masterpiece.
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