Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Becomes of the Brokenhearted

For years I've been familiar with author E. Lynn Harris, but I always thought he was a woman who wrote cheap and corny romance novels for other young, lonely, black women.

But I was in Half-Price Books recently and came across a memoir whose title caught my eye, which also happens to be the title of this entry. (For those of you who know me at all know that I absolutely love memoirs; they're my favorite thing to read.) So I flipped through it and read the sleeve, and it turns out that not only is E. Lynn Harris a man, and a gay man, but that he grew up in Arkansas (Little Rock), attended school at the University of Arkansas, and now lives in Fayetteville and teaches! So that, combined with the title, made me buy it without hesitation.

I finished it last night, and while his writing is a bit saccharine and sentimental, even for my sappy-ass taste, I was moved to tears by the end of the book. He grew up in a much different era than I did, not only gay, but black, in Northwest Arkansas (which, really, must have been terrifying, even if he didn't consciously know it), but I found myself relating to so much of what he went through, in terms of coming to terms with himself, his homosexuality, and his existential crises at feeling burned-out, used up, and bitter by his late 20's. (Hmmm....)

He didn't turn to writing until his early 30's, urged on by a wonderful friend who was dying of cancer (in his late 20's, three of his best friends died of AIDS, almost back-to-back; it was the 80's), and he had to self-publish his first book, but the rest is history.

The book ends on an incredibly upbeat note, and he even finds a man for himself that wants to stick around. His depression still comes and goes, but after spending most of his 20's suicidal, depressed, and with his face in a bottle, he learns how to live a life of dignity, openness, and optimism. It's very inspiring.

So, I can't wait to start reading his novels, though I'm not sure how much I'll actually enjoy them. And I also want to start stalking him and find him by Christmas! :)

But not before I read this book,, which I started last night and is already so good I can't wait to finish it.

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