June Thomas of Slate reports on newly released book titles and the world of publishing in "The Book Reader."
In the 1980s, at the dawn of the AIDS health crisis, being diagnosed as HIV-positive seemed like a death sentence. For most people back then, it was, but two new books — one fact, one fiction — tell the stories of gay men who survived.
Ever since he left Iowa at the age of 17, Sean Strub has demonstrated a talent for making famous friends. His new book, "Body Counts: A Memoir of Politics, Sex, AIDS, and Survival," published by Scribner, chronicles a rage-inducing chapter in recent political history. Strub lost dozens of friends, lovers and business associates to AIDS, and in 1995, it looked like he, too, was going to die. And then new drugs came on the market. Just as you'd expect, getting a new lease on life had a profound effect on Strub, but he's still a committed activist and entrepreneur, and a tireless name-dropper.
“The Days of Anna Madrigal," out later this month from HarperCollins, is the ninth, and apparently the last, novel in Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City" series. We've heard that before, of course. Maupin halted the series after book number 6 because by then, Michael, his main protagonist, was HIV-positive, and Maupin didn't want to write a series in which the gay man died at the end. But Michael lived, got married, and settled into the role of a wise gay elder. The new book involves a wild trip to the Burning Man festival and a journey to 92-year-old Anna Madrigal's childhood home. But wherever they roam and whatever they get up to, it's always great to be reunited with these characters. By now, they're like old friends.
Look for reviews of more new releases on the Slate Book Review at slate.com/books.