Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 367
Paul Monette lost his partner, Roger Horwitz, in 1986. Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir chronicles the journey from the weeks before they met to Monette's heartbreaking loss. While the book is a personal memoir, between the personal stories Monette paints the context of the times. HIV and AIDS were devastating the country during the late 1970s and 1980s, with homosexual men at the forefront of the disease. Throughout the tale of love and loss, Monette describes symptoms, medications, doctors, protocol, and any advice or information he can impart. Part memoir, part informational text, Borrowed Time is a raw and vulnerable testimony of the struggle with AIDS at its start.
When the story begins, Monette and Horwitz are acutely aware of HIV as an option. They've had friends contract the disease, and they live in a time when men like them are especially susceptible. They suspect every cough might be a sign of disease, and Horwitz is ultimately diagnosed in 1985. He fights against the disease, refusing to let it take his life before he's even dead. A lawyer, Horwitz works until he literally cannot after he goes blind. It is only at that juncture that he sees the end is coming. Once his work is no longer a part of his life, he begins to accept that he will soon die.
Monette, himself, is diagnosed with AIDS, a disease which ultimately took his life in 1995. He expels all of his energy caring for his friends, including Horwitz, and fears he'll have nothing left for himself. He met Horwitz in 1974, and the two became close friends and partners. Together, they watched friends get diagnosed and die, but they thought they were different. Even from inside the community, it seemed AIDS was being blamed on promiscuity among homosexual men. Horwitz was misdiagnosed with another STD, and Monette stood by his side through his treatment. They thought they were okay until Horwitz's misdiagnosis was realized, and AIDS was named as the culprit. While Horwitz continued to work and live his life, Monette was initially frozen by the grief that came from facing the death of a friend. He rose to the occasion, however, and served as caretaker and emotional support for Horwitz.