Life Sentences: Writers, Artists, and AIDS

Thomas Avena, Editor Mercury House $14.95 (304p) ISBN 978-1-56279-051-6
Avena, the founder and editor of the Bastard Review , has compiled a stunning collection of poetry and prose by 14 artists and writers who (with the exception of one) have AIDS or are HIV-positive. Among the gifted and controversial contributors are Severo Sarduy, who, like Avena, draws parallels between AIDS and the Holocaust; William Dickey and Edmund White, who compare AIDS with aging; Marlon Riggs, who says of the simultaneity of living and dying, ``we are simultaneously diminished by what enlarges us in life--a seeming contradiction that defines the fundamental meaning of existence''; and David Wojnarowicz, who describes his growing despair: ``I am all emptiness and futility . . . a dark smudge in the air that dissipates without notice.'' Other contributors include Tory Dent, Thom Gunn, Essex Hemphill, Bo Huston and Tony Kushner, who express rage against those who see the disease as retribution, anguish as their bodies seem to turn against them and freedom once they accept AIDS as an integral part of their lives. Much of the book's language, like the experiences portrayed, is brutal and graphic; yet many pieces sear with elegance in the face of death. Huston, Sarduy and Wojnarowicz have since died from complications of AIDS. Illustrated. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/04/1994
Release date: 04/01/1994
Genre: Fiction
Hardcover - 978-1-56279-063-9
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