In the Company of Solitude

In the Company of Solitude

In the preface to In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Epidemic, Michael Klein admits “When Michael Braziller of Persea Books asked me to edit this anthology, my immediate thought was, I can't. I can't read another word about AIDS...I just didn't think I could bear reading more testimony in this particular historical transcript.” It's a brave admission, and it sets the tone for the rest of the book.

In the Company of My Solitude was published in 1995. Consequently, many of the pieces in it were at least conceived before the full possibilities of long-term survivorship possibilities were known and the book provides an interesting insight into those moments of real fatigue that were so present in what one activist called “the last years of the worst years” of the epidemic.Another thing that makes In the Company of My Solitude a particularly interesting read is the fact that the editors chose people with such divergent stories of infection, affection and effection. In the used copy I got at a bookstore in Provincetown (where, it is likely that Klein did much of his editing work) there are annotations next to the names of the stories in the table of contents: “ Waiting for death, deteriorating environment” is written in highlighter and then “prostitute with AIDS who turned her life around” and when you turn the page “vampire lesbian who wants to get tested.” The slightly reductive comments in the margins inside, the former of the book did see really understand the power of it: the writing of people living (and in some cases, dying) with AIDS, diverse in circumstance but united in it nonetheless.