He grew up in a small town in New England in the 1950's, watching lassie, going to church, getting straight A's at school, a scholar destined for success. But he already had a secret, and his public life with family and friends was already a constant round of ventriloquism as he played the joker and pretended to be the same as everyone else. For Paul Monette was gay. BECOMING A MAN is about growing up gay, and about the tyranny and self denial of the closet - one man's struggle, for half his life, to come out. From the white-bread 1950's through the rebellious 1960's to the self-creating 1970's and beyond, it forms a passionately honest and unsparing account of the tortures of living a lie, a naked protrait of one man's fight for freedom in a time of ignorance and bigotry.
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(196mm x 132mm x 19mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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US Kirkus Review »
From "the cauldron of the plague" comes a bitter memoir by the author of Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1988) and six novels (Halfway Home, 1991, etc.). "Twisted up with rage," Monette is urgent to tell his story: "the fevers are on me now, the virus mad to ravage my last hundred T cells." He begins with his straight-A childhood, darkened by his brother being crippled by spina bifida. But the source of Monette's fury comes from growing up in "the coffin world of the closet," losing a "decade of being dead below the belt," and now finding himself a victim of what he calls "the genocide by indifference that has buried alive a generation of my brothers." Clearly, Monette wants to berate and shock this "Puritan sinkhole of a culture" with crude language ("Roger was up to his tits in therapy" is a printable example) and explicit accounts of his homosexual encounters, starting as a nine-year-old. After describing a one-night stand, he mockingly asks, "Is this more than you want to know?' and then explains that a late lover advised, "rub their faces in it." Monette does. Later, he writes, "I was so sick of hearing myself talk about sexuality - hetero, homo, and otherwise." But despite the pose of no-holds-barred honesty, the author's diatribe offers only a predictable view of his elite schools (Andover and Yale) and little on gender theory beyond the statement that "gay is a kind of sensibility." The offhand prose veers from the flip ("I try not to be gayer-than-thou about bi") to the melodramatic ("I have to keep my later self on a short leash as I negotiate those hurricanes of feeling that propelled my time with women"). A deliberately self-absorbed manifesto from the AIDS battlefield, angrily slicing the world into us and them. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Paul Monette
Paul Monette was the author of six novels and three colections of poems. Becoming a Man was the 1992 National Book Award for non-fiction. He died in February 1995.