Learn more Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop now Learn More Shop now Learn more Shop Fire Shop Kindle Learn More Shop now Shop Women's Shop Men's
Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading, but perhaps not for those new newly diagnosed with HIV, 31 Jan. 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival (Kindle Edition)
This book, which I’d eagerly awaited since learning of its impending publication, is one of the most difficult books I’ve read. Not because it’s written in an impenetrable style, or full needs a dictionary of drugs or a medical qualification, but because of its matter-of-fact accounts of the confusion, terror, hope, tears, love, support, defiance and strength that we people with HIV have lived with for the past thirty-odd years.

I bought the Kindle edition on Tuesday morning and found myself surprised to have finished it on Saturday evening. Although the Kindle edition doesn’t have real page numbers, the final 25% of the book consists of the most detailed index I think I’ve ever seen, and though the index uses page numbers, they take you to the correct place in the book. You will need paper hankies: I think I cried about every five page turns.

It’s largely a memoir, but with one hell of a slice of history. The history of HIV in America seen through eyes of the author. Details aren’t spared: Sean’s description of his pulmonary KS reminded me of a friend who had to sleep sitting upright for fear of a KS lesion blocking his windpipe. (If it seems over-familiar to refer to the author by his first name it’s because there’s so much of himself in the book that I feel I know as much about him as I do about some of my closest friends.)

The memoir and broader history are intermingled. Naturally I can’t comment on the memoir, not knowing Sean, but the broader history tallies exactly with what I remember as we pored over imported copies of The Advocate and other imported US magazines. Details are spot on in the 80s, but more sparse in the 90s as Sean’s health declined.

From the introduction of protease inhibitors, and “the Lazarus effect” the book becomes more memoir than history as Sean rebuilds his life from being at the point where he had a CD4 count of 1. There’s a lot of name dropping, but then he was at one point before HIV looking to political office. And unlike many people with HIV in America he was never homeless or so poor he struggled for food.

Read it: there are times when it hurts like hell; for myself I found myself running almost a side-window of what was going on in the UK at the same time, remembering people and incidents I haven’t thought about in years. It’s not a wallow in nostalgia: it’s the story of the fights it took to get to today.

I don’t believe in summarising a book in reviews (as you’d see if you looked at my other reviews here), but prefer to reflect on how a book has affected me. And this one cuts deep. I started keeping notes of things to mention in this review, but quickly realised that it would be invidious to mention one fact over another. I’m going to need time to absorb what I’ve read, and I’m going to have to read it again, perhaps, with slightly drier, more critical eyes.

If you’ve just been diagnosed with HIV, wait. You need to have found your balance with your new life before you read this as it’s so blunt, at times, in its accounts of illness. Illness that you’ll probably never see. If you’ve reached an accommodation with your little passenger, you’re comfortable with your drugs and you’ve got used to your clinic visits, then this really is essential reading.

This review was originally written for the online magazine [...], hence the assumption that the reader is HIV positive.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking on the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
  [Cancel]


Review Details

Item

Reviewer


Location: Neath

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,647