Read Halfway Home by Paul Monette Free Online
Book Title: Halfway Home|
The author of the book: Paul Monette
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1362 times
Reader ratings: 4.2
Date of issue: August 1st 2002
ISBN 13: 9780758201898
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 9.13 MB
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“Home is the place you get to, not the place you came from.”
Well this was brilliant!!
But I am not surprised because it was written by a man who lived a courageous and brilliant life. A champion!
This book for me is the best of Paul Monette's writing that I have read so far. It is even better than his memoirs because the writing and experiences from his memoirs can be found here in the lives of his very real characters.
Paul Monette's fiction and his non-fiction testify about love between men and the way in which this love endures, supports and brings life. Not just erotic love but also fraternal love and the love between friends. His writing also testifies about the challenges of all kinds of love, of growing up gay, of living in a society which worships the fittest and the whitest, and worships the strong man, the successful man and in this worship neglects and derides those do not fit in or who fail to reach those so called emblems of societal recognition or success.
In this story Paul Monette goes beyond the love of two men to explore the wider family and the love of friends. Tom Sheehan has AIDS is and slowly, slowy dying. He has abandoned the theatre he used to manage and left that work to his friend Mona and he is staying in a beach house owned by his friend Gray.
Tom is coming to terms with the deaths of so many of his friends and his own ill health, but Tom also has a history of hurt from his childhood and mourns the loss of what he would have liked his childhood to have been. The pain inflicted on him by his brother and the rejection from his mother and judgement and violence from his father have left their shadows in Tom's life. Now as he grapples with ill health he relies on the love and support of friends but he constantly lives under the shadows and pain of the past.
But things happen and Tom's brother comes back into his life in a most surprising way and not just his brother, but his nephew and sister in law. At the same time love finds its way back into Tom's life, both the love of friends and a new romantic love. Both Tom and his brother find that they have to learn to love anew and come to terms with their childhood and their lives and the things that have happened to bring them to this point in their lives.
It is a time of great change and time of truth for both of them as the past is revisited and the truth of their lives in revealed.
Tom comes to see that he is wrong about the so called gilded life of entitlement his heterosexual brother has been granted. It isn't as easy and as privileged as he thought. Tom begins to see that beneath the golden sheen of his brother's life is full of cracks and blemishes, dishonesty and violence. His brother lives with the same kind of blemishes that now appear on Tom's skin as he battles the virus.
Tom also begins to see the beauty that is in his own relationships and the way in which his own life has brought him love and joy. He begins to realise that it is he who is blessed and this his honest life has been life giving and that he is stronger than he thought.
As he battles with his health he finds strength as he begins to think through and come to terms with the hurts of his childhood and opens himself to his brother and his new lover. Of course this doesn't mean that things are all neatly resolved because they aren't. The story doesn't try to resolve feelings and events but instead it journeys through them. Tom relives his hurts but he comes to see that the nice 'nuclear family' of man, wife, children is not all it is cracked up to be and this his own family of Gray and Mona is just as valid and loving.
I enjoyed this. I had a wonderful childhood myself but I am often nonplussed by people who look at the family as the be all and end all. I think real family includes blood relations and non blood relations. I also think family can be a place of great joy but also great pain and fear and I enjoyed reading this because as Tom reflects and thinks of his past it seems as if he comes to a similar realisation.
Tom also realises that life is precious and to be appreciated and that he should live fully in the time left.
This story is just so beautifully written. Paul Monette manages to convey the confusion and emotions of a person who now struggles with AIDS having also struggled through childhood, but this is not a painful story but a triumphant one because of what Tom realises about himself.
The story also reflects Paul Monette's personal experiences: his criticism of the Roman Catholic church and it's position on homosexuality, his experiences of living with Irish people and the bullies of his childhood. The characters in this book are brought up in the Roman Catholic church but this does not bring the young Tom any peace as an adult or any protection from abuse as a child. This haunts him but at the same time as an adult on stage he creates a monologue where he himself is Jesus and in some way portrays the Jesus that he believes in. The Jesus of true liberation, the wounded and broken shepherd and not the triumphalist condemning Jesus of the Roman Catholic instituition and his childhood.
Later it is an ex-Roman Catholic nun who steps into the upheaval and Tom finds it in himself to create peace and some sense of true reconciliation. In this way Paul Monette provides the readers with glimpse of the true compassion and love that can be found in some people of faith, but which is often lacking in the public face of the religious institution.
The author also explores the darkness of family life and so called 'family values' showing that sometimes the inside of family life is dark and painful whilst the outside and what is seen externally is shiny and appears full of light. I enjoyed this because family life can also be a place of great danger and oppression and injustice, but institutions and churches can so often assume that family is best. Love, being cherished, supported and valued is not always automatically found within birth families but it can be found in the families of friends and in other communities.
And of course there are echoes of Paul Monette's own loves in this book. His struggles trying to keep Roger (his first partner) alive and the many tests and hospital visits Roger endured are glimpsed here as Tom and Gray anticipate Tom's declining health and recognise that their first tests in hospital will increase as time goes on.
There is a tribute here to Steven Kolzack (Paul Monette's second partner) and his activism when Tom meets a fellow ACTUP activist in hospital and recalls a protest they were both involved in. Indeed the book is dedicated to Steven Kolzack and in this way recalls the activism that pushed Governments to act and continues to save lives to this day.
Above all the story shows that the love of friends and the care people show for one another crosses the traditional family boundaries and is just as important for life. In an age in which family breakdown is high and in which social isolation is so common it is important to remember this and to value all kinds of relationships and friendships.
Paul Monette's best writing was born out of the furnace of the 1980's AIDS pandemic and his own personal difficulties growing up gay in 1960/70's America. I could see all his own personal experiences reflected in the actions and lives of the characters and this made the story richer for me.
He explores homophobia and neglect within families and he does so without telling but by showing in a most powerful way. Tom's sister in law shows her prejudice and hatred for him even though she is reliant on Tom for shelter. The way in which the author shows her hypocrisy and her short comings was excellent and we get to contrast this with the way in which Tom interacts with his nephew Daniel who shows no judgement at all, only a willingness to live and let live.
This story has a similar feel to Michael Thomas Ford's Full Circle, in that there is a kind of coming to terms or growth, away from the hurts and challenges of the past and an appreciation of the present.
In this story we hear the echoes of Paul Monette's personal story through Tom Shaheen's desire to be a 'man'. To be the kind of man his brother is, one who has his father's love, one who plays all the sports, one who is accepted instead of being left on the margins, brutalised and ignored. Paul Monette eventually found his own way to becoming a man and through the furnace of AIDS became more than a man. In this story Tom Shaheen does so too and comes to terms with his desire to be like his brother and finds a new love and respect in his relationship with his nephew and affirmation and acceptance in his relationship with Gray but he also finds reconciliation and love for his brother and the rift between them begins to heal.
Tom is a multi dimensional character with his own whims, anger and resentments, but also he has courage, passions and love, and all of these emotions overflow in the story. It is just such a meaningful story which touched me and gave me such a fulfilling reading experience. Exquisite!
I knew this book was going to be special and I was right. Paul Monette will always be one of my favourite authors and a real hero. My deep appreciation of this story comes from a deep appreciation of Paul Monette's life and his other writing. This story had so much more meaning for me because I could understand the life of the author. This doesn't always happen because we are not always privileged to understand the authors behind our books. When we have an opportunity to do so, not only is it a privilege it makes for a monumental reading experience and the author becomes a friend and conversation partner and sometimes a hero.
The AIDS pandemic has robbed the world of millions of phenomenal people, men women and children. We can only imagine at what might have been if all these people were still alive today. It is impossible to imagine but I always imagine this when I think of Paul Monette. What might have been if we didn't lose him twenty years ago?
I wonder at this because I love Paul Monette's writing and I wish he had lived, and lived to tell us more stories with such beauty, depth and emotion like this one. The writing was simply beautiful, painting pictures in my mind. The end was lovely and so quietly satisfying.
So I leave this book determined to return to it at some point and thrilled to know a bit more about the life of my hero and the hero of many - Paul Monette.
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Read information about the authorInterviews:
Documentary: On Brink of Summer's End 1996
Online Guide to Paul Monette's papers at UCLA:
In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.
Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1945. He was educated at prestigious schools in New England: Phillips Andover Academy and Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1967. He began his prolific writing career soon after graduating from Yale. For eight years, he wrote poetry exclusively.
After coming out in his late twenties, he met Roger Horwitz, who was to be his lover for over twenty years. Also during his late twenties, he grew disillusioned with poetry and shifted his interest to the novel, not to return to poetry until the 1980s.
In 1977, Monette and Horwitz moved to Los Angeles. Once in Hollywood, Monette wrote a number of screenplays that, though never produced, provided him the means to be a writer. Monette published four novels between 1978 and 1982. These novels were enormously successful and established his career as a writer of popular fiction. He also wrote several novelizations of films.
Monette's life changed dramatically when Roger Horwitz was diagnosed with AIDS in the early 1980s. After Horwitz's death in 1986, Monette wrote extensively about the years of their battles with AIDS (Borrowed Time, 1988) and how he himself coped with losing a lover to AIDS (Love Alone, 1988). These works are two of the most powerful accounts written about AIDS thus far.
Their publication catapulted Monette into the national arena as a spokesperson for AIDS. Along with fellow writer Larry Kramer, he emerged as one of the most familiar and outspoken AIDS activists of our time. Since very few out gay men have had the opportunity to address national issues in mainstream venues at any previous time in U.S. history, Monette's high-visibility profile was one of his most significant achievements. He went on to write two important novels about AIDS, Afterlife (1990) and Halfway Home (1991). He himself died of AIDS-related complications in 1995.
In his fiction, Monette unabashedly depicts gay men who strive to fashion personal identities that lead them to love, friendship, and self-fulfillment. His early novels generally begin where most coming-out novels end; his protagonists have already come to terms with their sexuality long before the novels' projected time frames. Monette has his characters negotiate family relations, societal expectations, and personal desires in light of their decisions to lead lives as openly gay men.
Two major motifs emerge in these novels: the spark of gay male relations and the dynamic alternative family structures that gay men create for themselves within a homophobic society. These themes are placed in literary forms that rely on the structures of romance, melodrama, and fantasy.
Monette's finest novel, Afterlife, combines the elements of traditional comedy and the resistance novel; it is the first gay novel written about AIDS that fuses personal love interests with political activism.
Monette's harrowing collection of deeply personal poems, Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog, conveys both the horrors of AIDS and the inconsolable pain of love lost. The elegies are an invaluable companion to Borrowed Time.
Before the publication and success of his memoir, Becoming a Man, it seemed inevitable that Monette would be remembered most for his writings on AIDS. Becoming a Man, however, focuses on the dilemmas of growing up gay. It provides at once an unsparing account of the nightmare of the closet and a moving and often humorous depiction of the struggle to come out. Becoming a Man won the 1992 National Book Award for nonfiction, a historical moment in the history
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