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Book Title: Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise|
The author of the book: Paul Monette
ISBN 13: 9780156002028
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 22.32 MB
Edition: Mariner Books
Date of issue: April 15th 1995
Read full description of the books Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise:...I've been visiting my own grave for years now--pre-need, as they call it--and I don't require any further vigil from anybody. Unless it is some kind of safety zone. And as long as there's no piety in the gesture. I don't like flowers, but the deer do. Keats and Lawrence and Stevenson all died of their lungs, robbed by a century whose major products were soot and sulfur. We queers on Revelation hill [in Forest Lawn Cemetery], tucking our skirts about us so as not to touch our Mormon neighbors, died of the greed of power, because we were expendable. If you mean to visit any of us, it had better be to make you strong to fight that power. Take your languor and easy tears somewhere else. Above all, don't pretty us up. Tell yourself: None of this ever had to happen. And then go make it stop, with whatever breath you have left. Grief is a sword, or it is nothing. (115)
Last summer, I went on a bit of a book binge: at the monolith flagship Powell's, I bought (among maaaany other things) Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir and this volume, having been so deeply moved the previous year by Monette's 1992 National Book Award Winner, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story. This last title became so important to me and my own coming out, that I felt that these two books could do nothing but help me grow.
Well, ONE YEAR LATER, I finally read them, and I can safely report that the entirety of Paul Monette's autobiographical writing is irreplaceable in the LGBTQ movement, and the fight against AIDS.
And yes, I think they did help me grow.
I regret feeling this way, but I think Monette's abysmal prospects at the time of writing Last Watch of the Night eradicated some of the problems I was having with Borrowed Time: the delicate, precious (read: uncomfortable) style of writing I found in the latter is replaced by a sense of immediacy in the former, as if Monette had to record his rage as quickly as possible before succumbing to his infection. I wasn't distracted by his "fauxhemian" lifestyle awash with Hollywood big shots; rather, I get erudite, impactful, and occasionally terse glimpses of Paul Monette's final thoughts and his enduring passions.
I think the variegated nature of this volume helped as well. While centering on homophobia, AIDS, and death, Monette's stories span across his lifetime, and run in the order that he wrote them rather than the chronology of their subjects; he waxes elegiac on Roger's deathbed in one chapter, and resurrects him for a jaunt in Europe in the next, and I enjoyed the unpredictability. Furthermore, I was able to learn more about Stevie and Winston, his post-Roger partners, than I was allowed to learn in his earlier works. Paul Monette died a little with Roger, but the rest of him went on to love again and again, until the very end.
But the heart transformed in the process [of loving another person], no longer just a thing that ticks and no longer simply mortal, though half in shadow already. There's a cautionary tale in there as well, perhaps, involving a soul-deep self-delusion--but not worth the caution anyway. Something lasts, firm as the pen in my hand. Jackals and buzzards cannot get at it. Its price doesn't translate into dollars. Saved as it is in the spending, till nothing's left in the vault. Invisible in the blinding shine of the setting sun, weightless as a mid-ocean breeze. To have greatly loved is to sail without ballast--with neither chart nor cargo, not bound for the least of kingdoms. Nothing remains, except this being free. (300)
Buy this title from Powell's Books.
Read information about the authorInterviews:
Documentary: On Brink of Summer's End 1996
Online Guide to Paul Monette's papers at UCLA:
In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.
Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1945. He was educated at prestigious schools in New England: Phillips Andover Academy and Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1967. He began his prolific writing career soon after graduating from Yale. For eight years, he wrote poetry exclusively.
After coming out in his late twenties, he met Roger Horwitz, who was to be his lover for over twenty years. Also during his late twenties, he grew disillusioned with poetry and shifted his interest to the novel, not to return to poetry until the 1980s.
In 1977, Monette and Horwitz moved to Los Angeles. Once in Hollywood, Monette wrote a number of screenplays that, though never produced, provided him the means to be a writer. Monette published four novels between 1978 and 1982. These novels were enormously successful and established his career as a writer of popular fiction. He also wrote several novelizations of films.
Monette's life changed dramatically when Roger Horwitz was diagnosed with AIDS in the early 1980s. After Horwitz's death in 1986, Monette wrote extensively about the years of their battles with AIDS (Borrowed Time, 1988) and how he himself coped with losing a lover to AIDS (Love Alone, 1988). These works are two of the most powerful accounts written about AIDS thus far.
Their publication catapulted Monette into the national arena as a spokesperson for AIDS. Along with fellow writer Larry Kramer, he emerged as one of the most familiar and outspoken AIDS activists of our time. Since very few out gay men have had the opportunity to address national issues in mainstream venues at any previous time in U.S. history, Monette's high-visibility profile was one of his most significant achievements. He went on to write two important novels about AIDS, Afterlife (1990) and Halfway Home (1991). He himself died of AIDS-related complications in 1995.
In his fiction, Monette unabashedly depicts gay men who strive to fashion personal identities that lead them to love, friendship, and self-fulfillment. His early novels generally begin where most coming-out novels end; his protagonists have already come to terms with their sexuality long before the novels' projected time frames. Monette has his characters negotiate family relations, societal expectations, and personal desires in light of their decisions to lead lives as openly gay men.
Two major motifs emerge in these novels: the spark of gay male relations and the dynamic alternative family structures that gay men create for themselves within a homophobic society. These themes are placed in literary forms that rely on the structures of romance, melodrama, and fantasy.
Monette's finest novel, Afterlife, combines the elements of traditional comedy and the resistance novel; it is the first gay novel written about AIDS that fuses personal love interests with political activism.
Monette's harrowing collection of deeply personal poems, Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog, conveys both the horrors of AIDS and the inconsolable pain of love lost. The elegies are an invaluable companion to Borrowed Time.
Before the publication and success of his memoir, Becoming a Man, it seemed inevitable that Monette would be remembered most for his writings on AIDS. Becoming a Man, however, focuses on the dilemmas of growing up gay. It provides at once an unsparing account of the nightmare of the closet and a moving and often humorous depiction of the struggle to come out. Becoming a Man won the 1992 National Book Award for nonfiction, a historical moment in the history
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