An obvious labor of love for the author and a moving tribute to the unsung heroes of the AIDS crisis.




Public speaker and activist Noe (Friend Grief and Men, 2016, etc.) chronicles the sometimes-overlooked efforts of women who helped battle the AIDS epidemic.

In 2014, the author attended a panel discussion that featured gay and straight women who played prominent roles in the fight against AIDS. She felt that their impassioned stories needed more widespread attention. In this book, she informatively writes about tireless support workers, such as Terri Wilder, who dedicated her life to AIDS activism and awareness, and the late activist Iris De La Cruz, as well as more famous public figures, such as Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Diana. Other chapters focus on other women who were hospice volunteers, caregivers, mothers, pioneering researchers, and medical educators who were trained on the front lines of the epidemic. Many of these women were HIV-positive themselves and found that the system, with its consistent “lack of accurate, stigma-free sex education,” failed them, as it had the gay male community in the 1980s and ’90s. Noe writes proudly and engagingly of her own social and political advocacy and activism, including her work at a residential program for AIDS survivors, lobbying on Capitol Hill for the Ryan White Care Act in 1990, and joining ACT UP/NY in 2013. She remembers being known as a “fag hag” then, but she tells of how she learned to embrace that moniker. This essential book is most poignant when Noe channels the pain, loss, and helplessness of the 1980s, when AIDS-related hospital programs “did not have unanimous workplace support” and half of most primary care physicians refused to treat AIDS patients. Instead, she points out, men and women with AIDS had to rely on the kindness of strangers—people who nursed the ill, defended them, and, above all, loved them unconditionally. Noe’s book celebrates one sector of this compassionate network of caregivers with empathy, appreciation, solidarity, and immense pride.

An obvious labor of love for the author and a moving tribute to the unsung heroes of the AIDS crisis.

Pub Date: March 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9903081-9-5

Page Count: 226

Publisher: King Company Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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An extraordinary true tale of torment, retribution, and loyalty that's irresistibly readable in spite of its intrusively melodramatic prose. Starting out with calculated, movie-ready anecdotes about his boyhood gang, Carcaterra's memoir takes a hairpin turn into horror and then changes tack once more to relate grippingly what must be one of the most outrageous confidence schemes ever perpetrated. Growing up in New York's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960s, former New York Daily News reporter Carcaterra (A Safe Place, 1993) had three close friends with whom he played stickball, bedeviled nuns, and ran errands for the neighborhood Mob boss. All this is recalled through a dripping mist of nostalgia; the streetcorner banter is as stilted and coy as a late Bowery Boys film. But a third of the way in, the story suddenly takes off: In 1967 the four friends seriously injured a man when they more or less unintentionally rolled a hot-dog cart down the steps of a subway entrance. The boys, aged 11 to 14, were packed off to an upstate New York reformatory so brutal it makes Sing Sing sound like Sunnybrook Farm. The guards continually raped and beat them, at one point tossing all of them into solitary confinement, where rats gnawed at their wounds and the menu consisted of oatmeal soaked in urine. Two of Carcaterra's friends were dehumanized by their year upstate, eventually becoming prominent gangsters. In 1980, they happened upon the former guard who had been their principal torturer and shot him dead. The book's stunning denouement concerns the successful plot devised by the author and his third friend, now a Manhattan assistant DA, to free the two killers and to exact revenge against the remaining ex-guards who had scarred their lives so irrevocably. Carcaterra has run a moral and emotional gauntlet, and the resulting book, despite its flaws, is disturbing and hard to forget. (Film rights to Propaganda; author tour)

Pub Date: July 10, 1995

ISBN: 0-345-39606-5

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1995

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