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Paul Monette (1945–1995)

Author of Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story

31+ Works 4,110 Members 42 Reviews 10 Favorited

About the Author

Paul Monette was born on October 16, 1945 in Lawrence, Mass., and has published numerous poetry collections, novels, novelizations, memoirs, and nonfiction works. A distinguished author of both poetry and prose, Monette's writings often explored issues relating to homosexuality and AIDS. After show more receiving critical acclaim in 1975 for a poetry collection The Carpenter at the Asylum, he veered away from his mainstay theme and produced an unlikely pair of books that demonstrated his poet's way with words. The books were No Witnesses, a collection of poems featuring imaginary adventures of famous figures, written in 1981, and The Long Shot, a mystery in which an avid shopper and a forger team to solve a murder. However, his following mystery, Lightfall, written in 1982, was not well-received by the critics. Monette next wrote Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction in 1992. His last work, Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise, was a collection of 10 moving and uncompromising essays dealing with topics such as his beloved dog Puck and the 1993 Gay and Lesbian March on Washington, D.C. Paul Monette died as a result of complications from AIDS on February 18, 1995. (Bowker Author Biography) show less

Includes the names: Apul Monette, Paul Monette

Image credit: Photo by Robert Giard, New York Public Library Digital Gallery

Works by Paul Monette

Afterlife (1990) 300 copies
Halfway Home (1991) 280 copies
The Long Shot (1981) 150 copies
The gold diggers (1979) 149 copies
Nosferatu the Vampire [novelization] (1979) — Author — 100 copies
Predator (1987) 62 copies
Scarface (1983) 51 copies
No Witnesses: Poems (1981) 29 copies

Associated Works

Growing Up Gay/Growing Up Lesbian: A Literary Anthology (1993) — Contributor — 284 copies
Men on Men 3: Best New Gay Fiction (1990) — Contributor — 202 copies
The Vampire Omnibus (1995) — Contributor — 78 copies
The Grim Reader: Writings on Death, Dying, and Living On (1997) — Contributor — 60 copies
The Name of Love: Classic Gay Love Poems (1995) — Contributor — 50 copies
Something Inside: Conversations with Gay Fiction Writers (1999) — Contributor — 33 copies
Persistent Voices: Poetry by Writers Lost to AIDS (2010) — Contributor — 32 copies
American Review 20 (1974) — Contributor — 11 copies
Antaeus No. 18, Summer 1975 — Contributor — 2 copies

Tagged

AIDS (200) American literature (17) autobiography (108) biography (125) Biography & Autobiography (29) biography-memoir (39) coming out (34) death (17) essays (56) fiction (283) first edition (20) gay (308) gay fiction (72) gay male (20) gay men (104) Gay men > Fiction (28) glbt (42) grief (16) hardcover (16) health (21) HIV (28) HIV/AIDS (114) homosexuality (26) lgbt (65) LGBTQ (34) literature (17) love (16) memoir (242) Monette (17) National Book Award (20) non-fiction (179) novel (31) Paul Monette (18) poetry (103) queer (54) read (17) relationships (26) romance (25) sexuality (24) to-read (100)

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Reviews

A very moving story and a remarkable man! After reading this I wanted to know more about Monette. Written while he was struggling with AIDS, which made his story that much more powerful.
 
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dale01 | 11 other reviews | Apr 4, 2024 |
Enjoyably Good
 
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saltyessentials | Dec 23, 2023 |
when paul monette reports that he lost his temper and said, "I'm not interested anymore in talking to anyone who doesn't have AIDS," it isn't that I don't blame him (and who am I anyhow), but that I think he was right. as in righteous.
 
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alison-rose | 12 other reviews | May 22, 2023 |
So it turns out there's a novelization of Werner Herzog's 1979 film based on F.W. Murnau's 1929 film loosely based on Dracula. Both of those movies are brilliant, and it's no surprise that the book isn't, since novelizations are produced for strictly commercial reasons—and this particular movie has fairly little in the way of dialogue or plot, it's all about the tone and the performances, so any attempt to pad it out to book length can't help looking like just that: padding. No one really wanted to make this book, and probably few people wanted to read it.

However, there are plenty of writers who could've approached this gig as a straightforward exercise in "Describe what happens in the movie, and make up some extra stuff of the same kind, plus maybe some things the director didn't have the budget for." Paul Monette doesn't exactly do that. There's certainly plenty of excess verbiage in a faux-19th-century style, as he describes this German town and various details of the characters' backgrounds that don't really matter but make it seem more like a novel; yet you get the sense that there's a point of view there, and every so often a genuinely good and surprising sentence will show up, and it's an effort he wasn't required to make, he just felt a little more inspired right then. My favorite of these is when Lucy Harker (the most pure-hearted woman in the world) decides she's not at any risk of losing her soul, because to be a vampire you need "a cast of mind she simply didn't possess—a sense of secrecy and guilt, of longing without a name, of terror to live in time." There are things going on in that ambiguous and allusive sentence that are both perfectly appropriate for the story and also clearly the work of a queer writer who had been closeted until just a few years earlier. At such times you can see the author briefly imagining what his own supernatural novel might be like, if he wrote one.

While he clearly hasn't seen the film—these books are usually based on early script drafts, and the plot is the same in this case, but this more ferocious characterization of Dracula has nothing in common with Klaus Kinski's strikingly sad performance—Monette gets at some of the same themes that I think Herzog had in mind, so there's some imagery about nature being out of balance, and some dry satire of the conformist townspeople, and a clear sense that what really seals Jonathan Harker's fate is just wanting a little more money. So anyone expecting an action-packed horror story with some kind of romance angle (which, by the way, the back cover copy tries to play up by totally giving away the ending) will be confused and disappointed, which is also true of the film, and in that sense mission accomplished! Monette also seems to know the Murnau film and throws in some nice details from that, like how Dracula's handwriting is just a bunch of unintelligible symbols; or maybe Herzog had that in the script and cut it, I don't know.

I haven't read Monette's later work, the stuff he's known for, which only started after his partner's death and his own illness. Apparently he didn't like any of his earlier books, not the more personal novels and I'm sure not the four novelizations he wrote for 20th Century Fox and Universal: this, and Scarface, and the SF/action Schwarzenegger vehicle Predator (read this review), and the cop comedy Midnight Run—all totally unsuited to [my impression of] his style and concerns, but I presume the main criteria for authors of these things are "Tells a story, doesn't need a lot of copyediting, turns in the job on time." I can't imagine how he would've approached Nosferatu—with its apocalyptic scenes of a community being destroyed by a semi-supernatural plague, presided over by an ancient demented aristocrat and the mad businessman who serves him—if he'd written it a few years later in the time of AIDS and Reaganism. But presumably this book helped him to pay the rent in 1979 and I'm fine with that.
… (more)
 
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elibishop173 | 1 other review | Oct 11, 2021 |

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