on 19 March 2000
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...
on 30 November 2000
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. The time his mother caught him fooling around with a friend, unsure about what they were actually doing but the silence that surrounded the episode deafening. The most compelling aspect of the book is the sense of loss for wasted years and it is here that we come full circle to his belief of life in the closet. "I can't conceive the hidden life anymore, don't think of it as life. When you finally come out, there's a pain that stops, and you know it will never hurt like that again, no matter how much you lose or how badly you die." Prepare to be challenged by the strong views that Monette asserts in the first few chapters and if you are not - reread them.
on 8 September 1999
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.
on 7 August 1999
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.
on 5 April 2000
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! :)
on 22 February 2014
A riveting and very moving read, I finished it in two days. It still speaks - twenty years after being written - to many who have undergone similar trauma in overcoming the self-hatred into which they have been conditioned by a repressive society. Things are no doubt immeasurably easier in some ways for young gay people born now compared with when Paul Monette was struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. But homophobia still lies just below the surface. Meanwhile, as events in Africa, the Middle East and even eastern parts of Europe (Walesa campaigned in his "free" Poland on a ticket of eradicating gays from Poland) show, countries where gains have been made are surrounded by witch-hunters all too ready to turn the clock back and condemn gays to the dungeon and the execution squad. But the constraints beneath the surface gentility of post-WW2 private school and Ivy League America were in their way as suffocating and productive of deceit as the more blatant prejudice visible elsewhere. It's easy at some points of this memoir to feel that one wants to shake Monette to overcome his evasions and self-deceptions but then it's necessary to put his struggles into context. Apart from the interest of the memoir as an historical and personal narrative, it is the impulse it gives to imaginatively re-construct the status of an outsider that gives this work its continuing resonance. Paul Monette has left a fine testament for others struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
on 30 March 2014
I wasn't too sure what to expect from this book so was wonderfully surprised when I started reading it. What an amazing journey to become a man, living a childhood still in the closet, going through the motions and hating yourself, detesting who and what you are and unable to allow the real you out because of ridicule and peers who would not understand that you are gay and only then you will be come a man, a gay man. Having gay male friends I understand this and it took them years to come out of the closet. Me I dont condemn anyone for the gender they are irrespective of straight or gay because at the end of the day they are just human beings and we should respect everyone and not be prejudiced.
on 6 September 2001
This has to be one of my best reads, I was completely absorbed by it like a sponge. The style with which it's written is beautiful and you travel with him through each chapter. I am now looking into reading all his other material. Because this is a personal memoir of his it saddens me to read of his death in 1995 which is stated in the book. It's like you almost know Paul Monette!
on 26 June 2007
I guess it's easy to pigeonhole most of the gay literature, but "Becoming a man" is different. It is real. As I was reading I was able to identify with Monette almost from the outset.The surroundings might have been different,yet circumstences always the same. Secret desires, loves, hidden life...Enormous pain and nobody to share it with, just the closet...What's interesting, once in it, he starts perceiving his life through the prism of own captivity...no way-out for him, barred entrance for everyone else. Only the time and the mounting omens will slowly break his shell... Poetry plays here a profound yet unappreciated role of leading him to the light, as it is a platform for all the actions he takes, including the one at the end of the book.
The ending is extraordinary! Neither happy, nor sad, but it's enough for Paul Monette as it is finally real.
on 29 May 2014
A stunningly beautiful book. His writing is captivating and his plight is so engaging; all exquisitely observed. A brilliant book!