We came together online to celebrate Paul Lisicky’s memoir of coming of age in Provincetown during the AIDS crisis. He was joined by Andrea Lawlor, whose novel Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl also travels through the LGBTQ haven at the end of Cape Cod. They discussed both of their books, queer communities, queer aesthetics, and community in a time of crisis.
Later: My Life at the Edge of the World
By Paul Lisicky
Published by Graywolf Press
With his newest book, Later: My Life at the Edge of the World (March 17, 2020), Lisicky gives us an incandescent, mold-breaking memoir that is equal parts coming-of-age story and portrait of an extraordinary, far-flung haven of artists and outsiders—roughly 3,600 in number—facing a dire AIDS crisis, with several funerals being held weekly.
Lisicky brings us to a very specific place and time—Provincetown in the first half of the 1990s—but he writes about the human condition so exquisitely that the book transcends specificity and becomes a meditation on what it means to be human—to love, to lose, to hurt, to yearn, to be afraid, to be accepted and embraced. In prose that is at turns sumptuous and strikingly original, uncannily perceptive and laugh-out-loud funny, Lisicky ruminates on community and belonging, art-making, family dysfunction, love, joy, sex and sexuality, illness, grief, doubt, anger, loneliness, and the sublime landscape and wildlife in far-eastern Massachusetts (“the edge of the world”).
“Later is a vital, dazzling memoir not just of a passage in one life, but of a place, a time, an ethos. Both telescopic and microscopic, this story challenges and illuminates—and, as only the best books do, leaves the reader fundamentally transformed.” —Rebecca Makkai