ALL THE RAGE
A Partial Memoir in Two Acts and a Prologue
by Brad Fraser
Doubleday Canada. 342 pages, $26.95
All the Rage
is appropriately structured as a two-act play with a prologue (covering Fraser’s boyhood and early youth) and an epilogue titled “Disappearing the Queer,” which functions as a kind of politico-artistic manifesto. It is a passionate polemic on the ways in which LGBT people have been and continue to be erased, and it provides a succinct statement of Fraser’s stands on art and politics. Fraser came of age as a gay man and began his career as a playwright just as the AIDS epidemic erupted in the early 1980s. “I knew many of those men,” he writes. “Many of them were discarded. Forgotten. Disappeared. This book is for those people, whether they’re named in these pages or not.” Had the AIDS epidemic not coincided with the beginning of his career, Fraser almost certainly would not have become the playwright that he did. The angry young Brad Fraser had more than his own childhood and youth to be angry about.
All the Rage tells the story of how the young Bradley Fraser successfully channeled the emotions arising from an upbringing in an impoverished family, in which he endured emotional, physical, and sexual abuse, to become the award-winning Brad Fraser: “I knew that my upbringing had instilled a tremendous anger within me,” he writes at the end of the prologue, “and that if I didn’t find a way to channel that anger constructively it would end up directed at those around me or myself. I also knew it would trap me in the world I came from. Creative activities had always been the best way for me to channel my negative emotions and I knew my salvation would be with them.” It is that story that makes All the Rage read at times like an autobiographical novel.