MOSES UNCHAINED by Marilyn F. Moriarty

MOSES UNCHAINED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The disturbing, candid biography of a man with AIDS who died in 1995. Moriarty, an award-winning author of short fiction, became personally involved with the book’s subject, Zack, in the final months of his life. Zack asked her to tell his story through this book (her first), which Moriarty writes in the first person, from Zack’s point of view. Zack comes across as a bundle of contradictions: a Jew who converted to evangelical Christianity; a New Jersey native who spent his entire adult life in the South; a tattoo-marked trucker and weight lifter who imagines himself a sensitive man. Zack contracted AIDS through his second wife, Shelley, who never told him that she had the disease. In fact, Zack didn—t learn the truth until after Shelley’s mysterious death from pneumonia. Their marriage rested on a series of lies; Zack discovered three years in, for example, that Shelley had several more children than she claimed. After her death, looking back on their marriage, Zack began to suspect that she had intentionally infected him, since she had insisted on frequent anal sex, and vaginal intercourse during her period. The marriage appears to have been mutually abusive (though this version casts Shelley as the primary abuser). But the rage that Zack expresses in telling his story indicates a more pervasive hatred of women, repeatedly calling himself a —pussy-whipped— man and referring to the wife of his best friend as a —cold, anus-mouthed woman.— Such revelations are intensely disquieting, as is his honesty about one of the ways he dealt with his illness—he strangled one of his daughter’s rabbits. As he coped with his disease, Zack became an AIDS advocate, speaking in Virginia schools and churches, where pastors were more willing to allow a heterosexual speaker but often cautioned him not to mention condoms in his speeches. Well told, crafted together with Zack’s own phrases and unique perspective, this is a terrible tale not soon to be forgotten.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1998
ISBN: 0-8203-1985-6
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Univ. of Georgia
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 1998