Saturday, June 14, 2003

No Joke

I have just finished what is perhaps the most depressing book ever written. April Fool's Day by Australian author Bryce Courtenay is the story of his son Damon's battle with hemophilia, and subsequently, HIV and AIDS which he acquired through one of the 5000 blood transfusions he had throughout his life time. Being the early 80s, his son was one of the first wave of AIDS patients in Australia at a time when it was still very much considered "the gay plague" and not getting an overwhelming amount of support and attention from the medical community. I went to Australia about 8 years ago, right when Tom Hanks' Philadelphia opened there. I stayed with a host family - a nice group of people with typical middle class values - and after watching the movie they turned and said to me, "well, if he wasn't gay, he never would have gotten AIDS and died, and therefore it's his own fault." I stood shocked, afaid to insult a family that had opened their home to me, but at the same time wondering how they could say something so stupid. When I got back to the States, I discovered statistically AIDS in that Australia was still very much isolated in the gay community. Basically, they were going through what people here went through a generation before me when nobody knew anything. It's an upsetting book, but also a very powerful one because it's all about the strength it took to survive each day - not just by Damon, but also by the people the around him. For anyone who has read The Power of One, which is without hesitation my all time favorite book, April Fool's Day was great at shedding light on so many of the autobiographical elements that run through The Power of One.


Post a Comment

<< Home