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Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story
by Paul Monette
ISBN 0062507249 / 9780062507242 / 0-06-250724-9
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Paul Monette first made a name for himself in 1978 with his debut novel, Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll, a comic romp with serious overtones. He established himself as a writer of popular fiction with three more novels before he and his lover were both diagnosed with HIV. In 1988 he wrote On Borrowed Time, a memoir of living with AIDS and of his lover's death. The passion and anger that fueled On Borrowed Time surfaces again in 1992's Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, his National Book Award-winning autobiography. Although it follows the traditional structure of the autobiography and bildungsroman--early family life, education, reflections on how art influenced the subject's view of life--Becoming a Man also filters Monette's story through two central facts: the closet and AIDS. Monette writes of the pain of being closeted, the effect it had on his writing, and how it shaped (and often destroyed) his relationships. Monette's fear and fury at AIDS and homophobia heighten the same skill and imagination he put into his fiction. This vision--poetic yet highly political, angry yet infused with the love of life--is what transforms Becoming a Man from simple autobiography into an intense record of struggle and salvation. Paul Monette did not lead a life different from many gay men--he struggled courageously with his family, his sexuality, his AIDS diagnosis--but in bearing witness to his and others' pain, he creates a personal testimony that illuminates the darkest corners of our culture even as it finds unexpected reserves of hope. [via]