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Showing 1-10 of 16 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 46 reviews
on February 20, 2015
I read this beautiful tribute and memoir in tandem with Living in the Light of Death by Larry Rosenberg as part of a course on contemplative caregiving. As a volunteer in hospice, I am privileged to be of service to people and their families during their final days and Heaven's Coast provided insights on how that time can be for a family. Mark Doty describes some of the helpful and unhelpful behaviors that his partner's hospice team demonstrated and I learned a lot from his sharing of that experience.
Mark is such a talented writer - I literally stopped and re-read sentences over and over again because they were so powerful.
Talking about his grief and contemplating life without his beloved partner Wally, Mark writes: "The future’s an absence, a dark space up ahead like the socket of a pulled tooth. I can’t quite stay away from it; hard as I may try."
Describing a friend who is also close to dying: "Is there a luminous threshold where the self becomes irreducible, stripped to the point where all that’s left to see is pure soul, the essence of character? Here, in unfailing self-ness, is no room or energy for anything inessential, for anything less than what counts."
Everything Mark chronicled, from Wally and their relationship, to their dogs Arden and Beau, to Cape Cod, to their eclectic group of friends, all came alive for me through this story.
While there are many sad moments, overall this is a story of love and light and I feel richer for having read it.
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on April 16, 2011
Until you have waited for the funeral home to collect the remains of your spouse, until you have cleaned up and cared for them and they slip through your fingers and until you are able to touch and scatter their ashes without falling completely to pieces, then you don't completely know love. Mark Doty knows love, and he knows loss. He spoke to my soul with words so fluid as one reviewer described his prose, that reading this book felt like silk or a warm breeze against my cheek. Reading it, I felt these were my words if I had his gift for writing. After losing my partner of 25 years, not from AIDS, but complications of successful cancer treatment, I spend nearly three years reading every book I could find on grief. The gay themed books I read seemed to be looking for a replacement or quick sex as soon as they were at page 15. I felt bereft of finding any book that could speak to me of my particular loss, even though I did read some really good books about grief. When a friend suggested this book, I downloaded it immediately. If I hadn't, I would have missed out on one of the finest collections of prose, poetry and dignity that I have ever read. This book is about 2 gay men coming to a leave taking, but it could be helpful to anyone who has lost someone they are particularly close to.
I would say this to the one really negative review I read. Do you not read these reviews? Do you read the blurbs? No one said this book was "about" AIDS, but how MORE could it be about AIDS when it documents his partner's journey into release with all pertinent medical and spiritual experience from both sides of the sick bed?

This book is not only a tribute to Wally Roberts from Mark Doty; it is a gift to anyone who has ever experienced the most profound loss one can have in life...the loss of a soulmate. Please read and absorb this absolute gem.
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on December 27, 2014
I have this book in hard cover and love it. I bought this paper back version to share with
a friend who is grieving the loss of his partner and hope it will help him to heal. Most books
written about the AIDS epidemic are quite sad and as such by now tend to be formulaic records
of survivors' experiences. Heaven's Coast goes beyond that by providing a way for everyone
to relate to the connectedness and timelessness of all life and perhaps by extension even to
the universe itself. It's prose written by an award winning poet.
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on March 15, 2009
Mark Doty's memoir, Heaven's Coast, is one of the most poetic books I've read in a long time. Ripe with the most vivid imagery, Doty's talent as a poet shines through in his prose.

In this book, Doty recounts the life and death of his lover Wally who succumbed to AIDS-related illness in the early 1990s. As Doty deals with this, he's also faced with the deaths of friends from AIDS and a very close friend who dies in a car accident. While all this sounds tragic, it's Doty's hopeful message that shines through. Parts of the story literally had me close to tears, but the articulation of hope and peace beyond grief - and survival through it - left me hopeful.

As an "AIDS" memoir, this is an important book to read for the younger generations of gays that didn't necessarily have to watch their loved ones struggle and die with this disease. It's important to remember a time when medicine wasn't as good as it is now, and to know what this plague has meant to the gay community. That being said, I think anyone who has ever lost a loved one can relate to the struggle through grief Doty so poetically describes. I can't say enough good things about this book.
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on May 3, 2016
I have always felt that sorrow and loss are like a wallet you want to know is securely stored in your back pocket-- out of sight but with a little pat you are aware it is still there-- secure. This book finds the beauty in that image-- the beauty in the loss through which you gain a deeper understanding.
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on March 3, 2013
I consider this one of my most memorable reads - a treasure to be read slowly and thoughtfully, and again.
I will purchase the hard copy to keep, and anticipate reading his poetry with pleasure.
Thank you Mark Doty for that reading experience that is rare and priceless: an intimacy with the writer, a comfort and transportation into that, for want of a better word 'zone' that we all need.
Thoroughly recommended.
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on March 11, 2007
Doty's memoir shimmers with love, with joy, with pain, with grief. His prose is as rich and lyrical as his poetry. He invites us into his soul as he describes in unsparing detail his lover's journey through HIV. Doty honors his partner with every word; the love and respect is obvious, as well as the despair that results from knowing what is to come and being totally powerless to prevent it.

This book is certainly a tangible gift from Mark to Wally, but the sheer beauty of the writing is a gift to the reader. I draw no sustenance from the ocean, yet I found myself longing to walk across the dunes of Cape Cod-Doty's use of language is that powerful.

Heaven's Coast should be required reading for all healthcare workers.
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on September 5, 2013
I first read this book many years ago, and time has not diluted Mark Doty's impact in the telling of the death of his beloved Wally. The language is beautiful, even when the subject may not always be. I envy both Mark and Wally for having this lovely and complicated relationship; I'm sorry both Wally and the wolf are gone.
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Mark Doty is one of the most sensitive poets and writers we have. His books of poetry continue to garner awards, his memoirs are uniquely important literary pursuits, his meditations on art are becoming the Gold Standard. HEAVEN'S COAST is on one level a penetrating diary of the diagnosis and progression of AIDS as it affects Doty and his lover of 12 years Wally Roberts. Yes, there have been many books written about the devastation of this heinous plague, but few writers have found the path to beauty that such a universe-clanging calamity can bring. No Pollyanna treatise here: Doty couldn't write that way under any outside direction. He writes from his heart, from his experience of having loved so deeply that even death does not separate him from the bliss he has know with Wally.
From this elegantly written memoir we learn much about why Doty is able to see the world and its contents in such a special way. He pauses to muse and observe where others would flee in terror. He is able to relate the gradual physical decline of Wally as AIDS slowly but surely consumes his body. He shares his feelings about the medical profession, about friends and family response, about the moments he identifies to incorporate into his soul for food after he is alone.
HEAVEN'S COAST is a factual representation of the course of a still unreal viral disease and its impact on the victim and those around the vitim. But because this memoir is written by the brillant poet Doty is, this book is more about life, learning the meaning of life by embracing death, and ultimately connecting with the cosmos. "Ongoingness, vanishing: the world's twin poles. Each thing disappears; everything goes on. The parts pour into nowhere, the whole continues. And to be nowhere is to be in heaven, isn't it, in the boundless, loose from the limits of time and space? Isn't the whole world heaven's coast?"
This is a book to read and re-read, to share with those whom you love, to offer to those who find no meaning to existence. In short, this book is a miracle.
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on June 9, 2016
Only a poet like Mark Doty could write in a prose that reads like poetry, a highly personal story of love and loss, and grief and carrying on.
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