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Heaven's Coast: A Memoir Paperback – January 31, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this luminous study of illness and loss, the acclaimed poet (author of My Alexandria and Atlantis) recounts how his lover of eight years, Wally Roberts, learned from a Vermont social worker in May 1989 that he was HIV-positive (while Doty tested negative). In chapters that range impressionistically over the years that followed, Doty presents a kind of AIDS journal, tracing the gradual onset of the disease to which Roberts succumbed in 1993 and the painful healing process that engulfs Doty to this day. During this period, Doty also lost a close male friend to AIDS and a female friend to a car accident. After the diagnosis, the two men adopted two dogs, bought a cabin in the Vermont woods and, when Roberts began his gradual physical deterioration, moved to Provincetown, Mass., where there was a strong gay and lesbian support network. Mourning Roberts's loss, Doty finds powerful sustenance in poetry, letters from friends (excerpted here) and his own meditations on the New England landscape. Doty's love for Wally and the inner strength that sustains him lend this memoir a vitality that is sure to appeal to readers outside the AIDS community. Author tour.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In retrospect, 1993 should have been a red-letter year for Doty: his fourth collection of poems, My Alexandria (LJ 4/15/93), won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and a nomination for the National Book Award. But that year he also lost his lover to AIDS, a painful story he recounts here.
Copyright 1995 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: 305 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (April 14, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060928050
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060928056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #91,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1999
Format: Paperback
There are many kinds of ears in this world... it will take every kind of voice to make them listen. In Heaven's Coast, Mark Doty's is a poetic, memorable voice. While writers like Paul Monette and Larry Kramer explore the personal as political, Doty seeks and finds spiritual affirmation in nature, thereby placing him among many of his literary predecessors. For critics who take Doty to task for not writing a book that encompasses all those populations affected by AIDS, this is not a political, medical, or moral treatise, but a memoir. It is an account not so much of AIDS but of love, and how HIV/AIDS impacted that love in life and death. As a writer, a widow, a survivor, Doty eloquently articulates his experience of relationship, illness, and grief. Just as the virus respects no boundaries of race, gender, orientation, income, or age, neither does grief. There may be gleaned from any person's history some meaningful wisdom, emotion, comfort, or inspiration. As a caregiver and survivor of friends lost to AIDS, I found that Doty's words gave me renewed vision and new strength.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "l_dubois" on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Loss is one of the most powerful impacts that engraves a permanent mark of misery and grief on hearts of those who had been inflicted with the misfortune of experiencing such tragedy. Losing someone who appears to be the most important part of our life - perhaps, even the reason that we are living - very often causes a dramatic change in our life's perspective and makes us realize things that had never occurred to us before. Losing the love of our life to AIDS adds a great density to the already intense burden of loss. Mark shares with the readers his experience of taking care and loving the one that meant the world to him - to the end of his counted days. His partner and lover of twelve years became infected with an HIV virus, which later transformed into AIDS, and he passed away after four years of suffering and struggling for his life. It is a fascinating, yet a very sad book, filled with lots of happy as well as painful reminiscences.It is very important to have at least that one person you could definitely count on, to feel needed and safe with. From reading the book, it appears that Mark Doty is exactly that extraordinary person with an immense amount of courage and strength. He had never surrendered to the discouraging spirit of AIDS' dreadful abyss that had suffused the entire surroundings for him and his beloved, and that hung over their heads in a dark, dense mantle. His positive attitude helped his partner to gain strength and to keep going through the most difficult time of his life. Doty's use of language is so beautifully fluid, so boundlessly passionate, so real and down-to-earth, that it takes your breath away, and transfers you into his world of thought, into his life, allowing you to enter his most personal feelings and experiences.Read more ›
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
I have never lost anyone I love, and I fear that loss immensely. I often concoct possible life threatening scenarios for my loved ones, trying desperately (and in vain) to feel the pain I would be feel if they were really to occur, stupidly thinking I can somehow prepare myself for the worst. Mark Doty's partner, Wally, tested positive for HIV, and for four years Doty lived with the knowledge of "the worst": someone he loved dearly would soon to die. His memoir, Heaven's Coast, was another scenario for me to rehearse, this time with the aid of someone who actually endured it...and survived. It was helpful to read how Doty made it through those four years, trying "not to let the present disappear under the grief of those disappearances, and the anticipatory grief of a future disappearance." He strives to constantly live in the present, and his memoir takes the reader in it with him, written beautifully, with a thoughtful, poetic quality it, suitable for such a reflective piece. It is honest, heartbreaking and, for me, encouraging. Obituaries often contain what I call a "survived by" line, something I fear being associated with some day. For me, Heaven's Coast is an annotated, engrossing, and promising "survived by" line.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 12, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Mark Doty's memoir is utterly moving. The aching need to resolve the many issues created by surviving the death of a loved one bond any reader to Doty. His beautiful language is enough to justify reading, but it is his themes and insight which make this tribute to a lover into an even deeper search for why we live and love at all. His sorrow is heavy like fog, but his stirring examination of self, of relationships and of purpose illuminate. The level of awareness which Doty creates and sustains is both frightening and intoxicating. Reading his book was like becoming one of the seals he watches- diving below the surface, discovering a part of the soul that is universal yet often unfathomable. His ability to take a tangle of fears and questions and put them into such precise prose is astounding. An example: "The virus in its predatory destruction seems to underline the responsibilty of the living; life's an unlikely miracle, an occasion of strangeness and surprize, and isn't it appalling to dismiss it, to discard the gift?" The book is like sledding down a hill- a wild, wind-burnt, painfully exhilarating ride to the core of the spirit.
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