A collection of columns Levithan—a contributor to The Huffington Post and the Good Men Project Magazine—wrote about approaching and reaching the age of 60.
At first glance readers might wonder what is so singular about this milestone, but Levithan’s story is extraordinary. In 1984 he tested positive for HIV, grew increasingly ill and sat parked at death’s door before he won a lifesaving medical lottery a decade later: He was chosen to participate in a trial for an antiretroviral cocktail to fight HIV. Levithan is not short on gratitude for being alive and beating the long odds; he talks about his work as a volunteer counselor for many experiencing health crises or struggling with gay issues. He discusses society’s internalized prejudices—homophobia, ageism, anti-Semitism—and dreams of a time when differences will be celebrated. His most compelling stories are those he tells about others—quirky relatives or talented, true friends. Sadly, these anecdotes are too few and the predominant thrust of the book lies with the author. Many passages read like excerpts from a schoolboy’s diary: He recounts successful and disappointing dates (readers may wince at his lack of discretion when describing them) and how he frequently gets hit on by men in their early 20s. Missing from the frank discussions of sex—despite his life-threatening, life-changing experience with AIDS—is any mention of condoms or the importance of safe sex. Thematically, these columns center on celebrating and coming to terms with turning 60. Even so, the repetition can be wearying when read in toto. The author admits being told he could be “more discrete in content and tone” and states “I have been accused of bragging, of flaunting my sexuality and physical attributes—my privileges.” The collection could have been stronger if the author had heeded this advice.
Intriguing columns best read in small doses.