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Becoming A Man: Half a Life Story [Paperback]

Paul Monette
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Price: £10.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

19 May 1994

He grew up in a small town in New England in the 1950's, watching lassie, going to church, getting straight A's at school, a scholar destined for success. But he already had a secret, and his public life with family and friends was already a constant round of ventriloquism as he played the joker and pretended to be the same as everyone else. For Paul Monette was gay.

BECOMING A MAN is about growing up gay, and about the tyranny and self denial of the closet - one man's struggle, for half his life, to come out. From the white-bread 1950's through the rebellious 1960's to the self-creating 1970's and beyond, it forms a passionately honest and unsparing account of the tortures of living a lie, a naked protrait of one man's fight for freedom in a time of ignorance and bigotry.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; 1st ed. edition (19 May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349105499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349105499
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 39,094 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


A profound tale, wrenching as it is life-affirming, poetic as it is uncompromisingly real. (VILLAGE VOICE)

A daring and heartbreaking memoir. (BOSTON GLOBE)

Affirmative and ultimately celebratory. (NEW YORK TIMES)

Everyone can learn about courage and self-discovery from BECOMING A MAN. (SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE)

Searingly honest and lyrically unforgettable account of growing up gay in America. (Esquire)

About the Author

Paul Monette was the author of six novels and three colections of poems. Becoming a Man was the 1992 National Book Award for non-fiction. He died in February 1995.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
EVERYBODY ELSE HAD A CHILDHOOD, for one thing - where they were coaxed and coached and taught all the shorthand. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
When I reached the end of this autobiographical account of Paul's life, the only thing that I could do was turn back to the beginning of the book and start it again. I found this book one of the most powerful influence on my life. The story of a young man, who at almost thirty-years old comes out of the closet and starts to live a full life. I gained a new insight into how other gay men and women have had to suffer their own personal misunderstanding and denial. I found that the images Paul uses show how a life can start off so narrow, and then gain such width and height, such acheivement in a book is turely amazing. This book gave me a personal history; an understanding into to the way that society squach gay people into a small whole, but most especially, the way that I have allowed people around me to push me into that whole and hide my own identity, including my sexuality. Through this book, I was able to gain a great deal of courage and realised that I am no the only gay person in the world. This book should appear on everyones shelf, but especially those of us in the world that are gay...
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey from a loveless closet. 30 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Paul Monette's book has one overriding theme - liberation from the closet. The inescapable message that shouts itself from the pages of this book is the regret at internalising his feeling for over two decades. Monette paints a picture of a closet that is needlessly built, one that will leave his feelings and guilt buried for nearly twenty years. It is in this way that we begin to understand a little of what makes Paul Monette so assertive in his beliefs about a wasted life in the closet. Monette suggests that those of us who live in the dark and hide behind the façade of sexuality - believing it easier to be outwardly "Straight" are collaborators with those in society who seek to repress, separate and destroy gay people - although this he leaves to our own consciences, the message is clear and powerful. The books strength lies in ability to make the reader feel the frustrations of young Monette - who is unable to make the step between sex and love, firmly believing for years that the two cannot co-exist. "That as long as I kept them apart, love would be sexless and sex loveless, endlessly repeating its cycle of self-denial and self-abuse." Thus Paul sacrifices a friend he loved for another he did not - believing sex to be the greater of the two emotions. The conflict between his desires as a young gay teenager and the self-image that he constructs for those close to him leave him unable to relate - never truly getting intimate with friends or family. Monette felt that those around him had built most of his early life on a conspiratal silence. The frustration of realising that all those years of believing that he was passing as straight had actually fooled very few people. Read more ›
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Each time I pick up this book I feel like I'm reading a letter from a friend. Paul Monette writes like you or I, in his most colourful autobiography, which pulls you in from the outset and doesn't let you go until the end. If you've read Borrowed Time, Monette's simple sentence at the conclusion strikes you with amazing insprition - "Paul Monette, say hello to the rest of your life" as he meets Roger for the first time, his partner of many years to come. You realise that events that change your whole life can happen in an instant, with no warning.
This is the story of his life up until that moment, filled with honest stories and no apology recollections. For anyone that has ever doubted whether it's worth it, this book is a must. If only for that brief moment at a party that changes the rest of your life, your past was definately worth it.
Read this book!
PS The boy on the cover is dead cute! :)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Monette tells it how it is. 8 Sep 1999
By A Customer
A book dealing honestly with the issues of being gay in America to the present day. Monette in this biography (part of a trilogy) writes with remarkable clarity and insight and isn't afraid to tell you how it is. This is perhaps the most accessible of the trilogy charting the authors coming to terms with his own sexuality until the point in his life (late 20's) when he was strong enough to be true to himself and then the desperate and angry attempts to make up for what he saw as the "lost years". A man of obvious courage and strength, who watched friends and lovers die from AIDS (amongst other things) and then fell prey to the disease himself. Although Monette wrote much fiction it will be his biographical work which, in my mind, will mark him out as a great writer.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brave, honest, heart breaking 7 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Paul Monette bared his soul to describe growing up thinking he was gay and trying not to be in 1950's-60's America- unfortunately many of the hurdles he overcame are still there today. This is a wonderful book for anyone who wnats to understand what gay people go through, though if not gay yourself you may find occastional passages too detailed. Monette was an eloquent and angry writer, since dead of Aids, like so many of his friends and contemporaries. This is not a book to read in public, it will drag you through so many emotions and, if you have an ounce of compassion, leave you an emotional wreck. Please read this book and try to understand your fellow human beings, whatever their life style. Monette's "Borrowed Time" is another testimony to his courage, a truly heart breaking story.
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