MY MANSERVANT AND ME
by Hervé Guibert
Translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman
Nightboat Books. 82 pages, $15.95
BEFORE his death from AIDS in 1991, the French writer Hervé Guibert wrote several novels and a hospital diary, all of which chronicled his life with the disease. Of his most important work in this category, To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life, the novelist Nina Bouraoui noted that Guibert had effectively told “how life with the virus became an existential adventure … when AIDS transformed our relationship with desire and sexuality forever.”
My Manservant and Me was the last novel that Guibert saw published. While not specifically referencing AIDS, it is the story of an aging homosexual whose bodily decline and dependence on a young, delinquent caretaker depict “an unrelenting and derisory hellscape of terminal illness,” in the words of Shiv Kotecha, who provides an excellent foreword to the English-language edition. Readers, beware: this little novel refuses to depict the aging process through rose-tinted glasses.
Philip Gambone is the author of five books, including the memoir As Far As I Can Tell: Finding My Father in World War II.