TO THE FRIEND WHO DID NOT SAVE MY LIFE by Hervé Guibert

TO THE FRIEND WHO DID NOT SAVE MY LIFE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An AIDS victim's impassioned refusal to go gently into that good night is the theme of this moving and often searing novel by French writer and journalist Guibert. In a series of diary-like chapters, reminiscent of Defoe's Journal of the Plague Year, the narrator, a homosexual writer in his early 30s, records his own first response to AIDS, as well as the way the disease insidiously begins to affect a whole community. He notes how friendships, families, and affections are tested, and sometimes--though rarely--found wanting. And he recalls how he watched an old and close friend, Muzil, die--a character based apparently on the renowned French philosopher Foucault--but thought himself immune. Finally, suspecting that he is infected, he reluctantly goes along with an old friend, Jules, a bisexual and father of two young children, to be tested. But when ``this certainty became official, even though it remained anonymous, it became intolerable.'' For a brief moment, when his blood count improves, he believes he'll survive, but then he worsens and plans his suicide. Meanwhile, despite his urgent appeals for AZT from a friend, Bill, who works for a drug company, Bill delays until it's too late. Bill, unlike his other friends, is too frightened to be a hero: ``The hero is the one helping someone who is dying, the hero is you, and maybe me as well, the one who's dying.'' He ends close to death--``my arms and legs once again as slender as they were when I was a child.'' As much as it's a story of one man, this is a novel of historic record in which not just AIDS but death itself becomes the enemy to be fought, denied even, but never defeated--no matter how strong the will or spirit. A relentlessly honest, extraordinarily truthful book.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-689-12120-2
Page count: 272pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1991




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