Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Grief: A Novel by Andrew Holleran

This is a book that, not surprisingly, explores the different ways people deal with grief. The main character comes to Washington D.C. to recover from the death of his invalid mother. While in D.C. he connects with a number of his gay friends and they talk about the AIDS epidemic that took so many of their friends. The main character realizes that his guilt at surviving the epidemic and the fact that he never came out to his mother are keeping him locked in the grieving cycle even as others move on into new lives. Paralleling this is his reading of a book of letters of Mary Lincoln, who let grief at the loss of her husband destroy her.

This was an interesting, spare book that provides an unusual portrait of the world of gay men in Washington D.C. however the grief of the protagonist never became real for me. Maybe this is because grief is such a personal experience or because no one can ever see another's grief in its fullness but this book did not have the emotional weight that the title suggested that it would have.

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