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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Paul Monette (1945 - 1995)

added by ellholyday


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ellholyday November 14th, 2006 10:12 PM PST

Monette was highly accomplished as a writer both of fiction and of nonfiction. I would recommend reading one or more of his memoirs before reading his fiction, because the novels benefit from some understanding of his cultural background and point of view; however, the later novels are very good independently as well.

The three memoir-like books are (in order of writing):
"Borrowed Time"
"Becoming a Man"
"Last Watch of the Night" (actually a collection of essays, most of them autobiographical).

I originally read them in that order, which is fine; I could also make a strong case for reading them in chronological order:

"Becoming a Man" (birth through meeting longtime partner Roger Horwitz)
"Borrowed Time" (later relationship with Roger; his illness)
"Last Watch of the Night" (political thoughts, travel diaries, his dog, etc.)

If you want to jump right to fiction, start with my favorite, "Halfway Home," then I'd say "Afterlife" and "Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll."


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Paul Monette is one of the essential writers of what might be termed the gay identity movement and of the era of AIDS.

Monette was born in a well-off family in New England and grew up in the repressive 1950s (as he would later lament). He was a star student and as a young adult taught English at prep schools. Finally sickening of the closet, he moved to southern California in the 1970s, a setting that strongly influenced his life and work.

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