Tender and passionate autobiographical essays by the National Book Award–winning author of Becoming a Man.
“Does it go too fast?” Monette asks about life at the beginning of one piece. The answer is a resounding “yes” for the individuals who populate this stunning work of nonfiction. These ten autobiographical essays memorialize those whose lives have been claimed by AIDS. Following Becoming a Man and Borrowed Time, Last Watch of the Night is Monette’s third and final self-portrait. In this collection, he confronts death—those of lovers and friends, and even his own eventual demise—with both bravery and compassion.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Paul Monette including rare images and never-before-seen documents from the Paul Monette papers of the UCLA Library Special Collections.
Monette, a brave and impassioned gay activist, won a National Book Award in 1992 for his autobiography, Becoming a Man. However, the essays collected here--some are original, others are reprinted from Frontiers magazine, the New York Times , etc.--are not uniformly satisfying; Monette's prose is mannered, at turns maudlin and splenetic. The pieces are wide-ranging: Monette pays tribute to his loyal dog, Puck; to gay priests; and to an unidentified former grande dame of Broadway, who is gay in both senses of the word and full of gossip about Garbo and Katherine Cornell. He also writes about the 1993 march in Washington for gay and lesbian rights. Recurrent themes--the galvanizing impact of the AIDS crisis on both the gay movement and its enemies; love's ability to transcend the fragility of a body weakened by disease--hold the collection together. But Monette's attempts at lyricism and humor are awkward, the outbursts at the opponents of gay rights splinter almost every essay. Certainly one cannot be too angry about the homophobia that pervades American society, but some of Monette's subjects would be better served by more nuanced and self-effacing prose.