It’s not long but George Seaton managed to have me caring for all the men we briefly met, all of them, even the one who are clearly fated to tragedy, actually maybe even more for them. Michael Cardona, the barman, always searching for a good lay, not really caring for names and faces; 51 years old Maynard and 21 years old Brad, Daddy and kept boy, a relationship not destined to last; Jack O’Hayre, who I think, is only needing to find the right man, someone who can really take care of him; Jaime Guzman, the drag queen; Richard Smith, the nurse with a big heart (wouldn’t be he right for Jack?); Ronnie Jensen, the Vietnam veteran, who is searching in an horse, Joe, the way to put all his love in a place where it’s safe, where it cannot be taken by him; and then two of my favourite, college kids Matt and Shawn, so young and in love, so much into each other that I have hope for them it will be different, since there is no danger lurking for them outside, there is no “outside” in their relationship.
We know (or at least I think I know) that, even if the writer and David hadn’t it easy, and they went through some very bad situations, they managed to have their happily ever after; we also know, from the words of the writer, that many who were living in the Palisade where not so lucky, but the writer is not ready, or willing, to share the names of who didn’t make it. What of Ronnie, Matt, Shawn, Richard? They seemed to be the luckier, they seemed to have, even if from different ages and experiences, found the meaning of life. Did they manage to fully live that meaning?
The Palisade is like a metaphor of life in the ’80: gay people managed to build inner circle, closed environment where they could be safe and live as they felt they wanted to live. It wasn’t the real world, the real world scared them, and the real world was scared by them. But they were happy inside closed door. But then AIDS entered their safe haven, and at the beginning they didn’t know the danger was among them. After AIDS there weren’t safe havens nor more, on the contrary, sometime it was right those close environments that were even more dangerous than the real world, sometime, going outside seemed less scaring than staying inside.
Amazon Kindle: The Palisade
Publisher: MLR Press,LLC (August 26, 2011)
Reading List: http://www.librarything.com/catalog_bott