Paul Monette Biography


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

When Paul Monette died he left a legacy of writing that spanned some twenty years, yet it seems clear that his enduring contribution to gay literature in general, and to the literature of AIDS in particular, will be the books he wrote during the last seven or eight years of his life. From 1987, when he lost his longtime partner Roger Horwitz, until his own death, Monette focused all of his creative energies on documenting the lives of gay men living with AIDS, on challenging homophobia in American culture, and on articulating a progressive vision for the gay community. He moved from provincial author of moderately amusing gay novels to national spokesman for gay people and passionate chronicler of the AIDS crisis.

In Becoming a Man, winner of the National Book Award for nonfiction, Monette reveals that he began writing at Philips Academy, Andover, turning to art as a way to escape the puritanical burden of his New England upbringing and the isolation he felt as a young gay student. The struggle to embrace his true identity lasted until his mid-twenties, when he met Horwitz. Only then did he leave the closet for the light of a satisfying life partnership and a career as a gay writer.

Monette’s first critical recognition came for his volume of poems, The Carpenter at the Asylum (1975). His first novel, Taking Care of Mrs. Carroll (1978), is representative of the gay romances Monette wrote before AIDS upended his life...

(The entire section is 438 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Suggested Readings

Clum, John. “‘The Time Before the War’: AIDS, Memory, and Desire.” American Literature 62, no. 2 (1990): 648-667.

Roman, David. “Paul Monette.” In Contemporary Gay American Novelists, edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1993.