Landscape without Gravity: A Memoir of Grief
Book: Landscape without Gravity: A Memoir of Grief , by Barbara Lazear Ascher, ISBN10: 0140234950, ISBN13: 9780140234954, Penguin Group (USA), May 1994, Paperback
The first book on AIDS to be writen from the point of view of a gay man's heterosexual sister. And what writing it is! "The mark of a good writer is that when she invites you to take a trip with her, you do not hesitate," wrote Phyllis Theroux about Barbara Lazear Ascher, and the trip Ms. Ascher takes us on is to the land of grief. It is a hero's journey, she says, one that must be made alone, yet hers, as anyone's, is also universal. Go with her, and she will lead you not only into danger, but to a safe resolution, a safe return. The impetus for Ms. Ascher's trip was the death of her brother Bobby at age thirty-one. A "wild thing," brilliant and unpredictable, he found happiness in New Orleans with a permanent lover and in a society that welcomed him and loved him. He was often alien to Ms. Ascher, and one of the glories of this book is her self-appraisal about the relationship, her coming to terms with their differences while maintaining her love. Indeed, her portrait of him reveals both how difficult and lovable he was. Lyrical, impassioned, vivid, moving as few books have the ability to move, Landscape Without Gravity is a wonderful writer's most deeply felt work. It is one of the most beautiful books you will ever read.
The death of her younger brother from AIDS at age 31, only months after he revealed his diagnosis to his family, sent Ascher on the unexpectedly wrenching journey of grief that makes up this unflinching and often lyrical chronicle. Acknowledging the distance that had developed between Bobby, a gay man and ``a wild thing,'' and his family, who were ``trained in New England restraint,'' Ascher ( The Habit of Loving ) determines to explore the love for him that she rediscovered in the profound loss she felt upon his death. A few months after attending his memorial service in New Orleans, she returns there on a ``pilgrimage'' to connect with Bobby's lover and his other friends; later, she joins a grief support group at her Manhattan church. But mostly, her book records the shifting shape and process of her sorrow. Marked by candor, humor, vivid imagery and a spirit of affirmation, this memoir covering a year's time expands upon a widely discussed ``Hers'' column Ascher wrote in the New York Times in 1989. (Mar.)
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