cover image Heaven's Coast: A Memoir

Heaven's Coast: A Memoir

Mark Doty. HarperCollins Publishers, $24 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-06-017210-7

In this luminous study of illness and loss, the acclaimed poet (author of My Alexandria and Atlantis) recounts how his lover of eight years, Wally Roberts, learned from a Vermont social worker in May 1989 that he was HIV-positive (while Doty tested negative). In chapters that range impressionistically over the years that followed, Doty presents a kind of AIDS journal, tracing the gradual onset of the disease to which Roberts succumbed in 1993 and the painful healing process that engulfs Doty to this day. During this period, Doty also lost a close male friend to AIDS and a female friend to a car accident. After the diagnosis, the two men adopted two dogs, bought a cabin in the Vermont woods and, when Roberts began his gradual physical deterioration, moved to Provincetown, Mass., where there was a strong gay and lesbian support network. Mourning Roberts's loss, Doty finds powerful sustenance in poetry, letters from friends (excerpted here) and his own meditations on the New England landscape. Doty's love for Wally and the inner strength that sustains him lend this memoir a vitality that is sure to appeal to readers outside the AIDS community. Author tour. (Mar.)