(Review originally posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/34669.html)Why I Read It:
Required reading for my Religious Themes in Literature class.
This is the second work of non-fiction (outside of textbooks) that I've read in as many years. This is a disclaimer I want to make because having read so little non-fiction will affect my review of this book.
Hospital Time chronicles Amy Hoffman's struggle while taking care of her friend Mike who's dying from AIDS. It also touches upon Hoffman's frustrations with watching many of her friends within the gay community suffer and die of AIDS.
This may potentially sound redundant, but one of the most striking things about this memoir is how unflinchingly honest it is, in all its facets: Hoffman's contradictory and less than noble feelings regarding being Mike's caretaker, her mourning process and her frustrations with the way other people mourn Mike's passing, her less than flattering memories of Mike and his behaviour, etc etc. I have to applaud Hoffman's bravery for writing so honestly, about herself and about others. It can't be easy recognizing such undesirable traits within one's self, nor could it have been easy putting out a book that talked about Mike so candidly when other people who loved him were probably still alive and potentially reading the book.
While I really appreciate Hoffman's brutal honesty, I'm sad to say that I never really connected with her writing. I can't put my finger on exactly what it was that didn't jive with me though. She writes very fluidly, jumping from scene to scene and rarely in any kind of chronological order. It felt very stream-of-consciousness, like Hoffman wrote things down as she remembered them and left it that way. I don't think it was the unchronological order that threw me off though.. it just felt like.. I don't know. Like it was TOO personal. It feels like you're RIGHT in Hoffman's head, and while I can appreciate that from afar, it somehow hampered my reading experience.Final Verdict:
If you're at all interested in reading literature concerned with the AIDS epidemic, I wholeheartedly suggest reading this. It's a very intimate look at a woman's struggle to cope being a care-giver for her friend with AIDS and not doing so completely selflessly. Hoffman's brutal honesty is easily the highlight of this book and is something I applaud Hoffman for (there's no way writing and coming to terms with the stuff Hoffman does could have been easy). Despite this though, I still didn't find myself really connecting with the book, though I'm still not sure why. Either way, it was a fairly engaging read and I'm not sorry to have read it.