MICHAEL CUNNINGHAM

‘Til Human Voices Wake Us: Dale Peck’s ‘Visions and Revisions’ in the Age of AIDS

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Visions and Revisions, the title of Dale Peck’s new memoir about coming of age as a writer — as a person — during the AIDS crisis, might seem like a strange one from a novelist, critic, and essayist who once maligned literary modernism and its descendants. Only it isn’t. The title comes, as many readers will know, from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” perhaps the 20th century’s greatest literary work devoted to sexual indecision. This is fitting for Peck, whose memoir is embroidered with the sexual indecisions brought about by the AIDS crisis, which, the book reminds us, was a matryoshka doll of other crises, both public and private, theoretical and practical, cultural and political — all of which threatened to overwhelm the writer. The subtitle of the first section: “And in short I was afraid.”
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