“I don’t know if I will live to finish this. … I’ve watched too many sicken in a month and die by Christmas, so that a fatal sort of realism comforts me more than magic. All I know is this: The virus ticks in me.”
WITH these challenging words, which would soon become famous, Paul Monette began his 1988 work, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir. In the same year he had published his poems, Love Alone: 18 Elegies for Rog. The two works together serve several purposes: they prove Monette’s love for Roger Horwitz, who died of AIDS in 1986; and they leave an indispensable record of the times. They prepare for Monette’s own death from AIDS in 1995.
Monette was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1945 and was educated in the east. His memoir, Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, whose title anticipated that he would live only “half a life” before dying of AIDS, won the National Book Award for 1992.