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A Place Like This: A Memoir Paperback – October 19, 2007
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Top Customer Reviews
In my experience, these memoirs follow a typical arc: Young Innocent enters into a self-destructive fun house, tells harrowing stories of what he saw on the inside and describes how it almost killed him. Eventually, he has an illuminating epiphany and emerges back into the light, a wiser (and usually unbearably smug) being who will go on to lead a life of unbridled success now that his demons are behind him and that pesky monkey is off his back.
This book, thank God, isn't like that. It does follow an arc similar to the one described above--a young man moves to the Big City with dreams of cinematic stardom but then finds The City a less than congenial place and he is forced to make several sacrifices to his integrity along the way in order to survive. He goes through an addiction hell, and eventually does emerge better off. Sort of.
The first inkling that this book will be something different comes early on when the author recounts his experience as a nineteen year-old contestant on that sad daytime perennial, The Price is Right.Read more ›
It can't be easy to be as blatantly forthcoming as the topics of this book require, but in taking the step of sharing candidly, the book succeeds as a memoir and a history. I recently had someone in his 20s say he wanted to know what life was like in America when AIDS was first spreading and before we knew all the prevention/treatment options that are available now. I feel I could help him understand at least in part by handing him this book.
As someone who volunteered on an AIDS hotline in the late 80s, I particularly related to the author's description of volunteering for AIDS Project Los Angeles. There was a brief exploration of people's motives for volunteering ( "But how can volunteering be insincere, anyway? You did it or you didn't..." page 96).
I am glad I read it. The content was in your face with sexuality and drug use, but accompanying that was the power of friendship, the rugged demands of caregiving, and the determination to find joy in life.
And make no mistake, Mark King knows how to tell a terrific story!
(One is wanting a sequel long before the final pages are read.)
But they also tell us something about ourselves.
If you wonder what you might have in common with with a gay, drug and sex addicted narcisist turned AIDS activist King would probably share your question. Sure, his story is bravely honest, his scorn reserved for himself, but what makes this story so insightful is the ability of the author to put into memorable words
the universal experience of being isolated within an intense intimacy.
He shows us three worlds of ersatz intimacy...drugs, sex and sex for hire.
But more than a behind-the-scenes look at an all American boy's debasement into those worlds, is the experience of looking at it all close up... breath-to-breath close ...while feeling like you are looking at the rest of the world through a thick glass. Everyone knows what it is like to feel lonely with someone who is right in the room. King has the courage to explore that.
Anyone who has followed King's award winning writing knows he has been featured in the documentary, "Meth" and has been seen on CNN and in TIME magazine. There is much more to know here.
His one fault is the lack of compassion he shows himself.
Let's hope the natural sequel will take us there.
A must for anyone seeking to better understand our culture and evolution without being hypocritical about it; I kept being reminded of the line "it was the best of times, it was the worst of times". One feels themselves experiencing the ups and downs as their own - and to shout Bravo! you survived....
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Like Mark, I have lived through the 80's and 90's devastation caused by AIDS while trying to keep my sanity and humanity. Read morePublished on April 22, 2011 by Nelson Vergel
I tend to avoid memoirs, especially Hollywood memoirs, because they are so often pretentious and tedious. Some people, though, have stories worth telling. Read morePublished on November 6, 2009 by The Subversive Librarian
"I loved reading the memoirs of Mr. King. His writing is filled with candor, wit, great depth and compassion. I couldn't put it down!"
Trent Blanchard, M.A. Read more
I read this book and found it to be very up front and honest. Mark S King is a wonderful writer and I love the way he puts it out there, telling it like it is. Read morePublished on April 19, 2008 by W. N. Bennett Jr.
I didn't think I had much in common with the author when I scanned A Place Like This at the book store, but I am glad that I opted to carry the book to the register. Read morePublished on April 16, 2008 by J. Timothy Ricker
I loved this book. As someone who also lived his 20's in the big-eighties, King's chronicle of the era brought me back to those heady days, reeling in new adulthood, without a care... Read morePublished on March 26, 2008 by T. David