elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Paul Reed (May 28, 1956 - January 28, 2002)

Reed's biography helps illuminate his work, especially as it reflects his intimate experiences with the emergence and evolution of AIDS.

He was born Paul Hustoft to Sigurd William and Melva Hustoft in San Diego, California on May 28, 1956. Reed, whose biological father died when he was five months old, also had a sister, Karen Hustoft, and a stepfather, who was a Baptist preacher. Reed legally changed his last name in 1969.

As a child and adolescent, Reed studied the organ and harpsichord, and as an adult, he obtained a B. A. in Sociology from California State University, Chico in 1978 and an M. A. in Social Anthropology from the University of California at Davis in 1981.

Reed attended his first gay pride parade in San Francisco in 1980, and moved to the city in July 1981. He remained in the Bay area for the remainder of his life.

Reed's move to San Francisco occurred one month after the Centers for Disease Control published "Pneumocystis Pneumonia: Los Angeles" in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the report that introduced the medical world to what would become known as AIDS.

Reed entered the Castro gay urban subculture as post-Stonewall gay liberation zeal gave way to the sobering realities of the AIDS epidemic. The sense of this change is reflected in his somewhat autobiographical novel Longing (1988), which narrates its protagonist's similar move to San Francisco. The specter of the epidemic looms within the novel and, indeed, permeates all of Reed's writing. This consciousness is a direct result of Reed's life experiences, for in addition to writing during the emergence of the HIV virus, Reed also survived the transformation of AIDS from an acute to a chronic condition.

Reed claims in The Redwood Diary: A Journal (1995) to have known he had AIDS at least as early as 1981. Reed's understanding may well be retrospective, however, since AIDS was not named until midyear 1982; nonetheless, Reed HIV-seroconverted during the early years of the epidemic.

Surviving until 2002, Reed lived to witness and benefit from progressive advances in antiretroviral therapies. More specifically, when Reed's T-cell count dropped to 120 in late 1987, he benefited from the Federal Drug Administration's approval of AZT, the reverse transcriptase inhibitor he credited for his recovery. Similarly, when Reed's viral load (the amount of HIV in the bloodstream) rose to an incredible 1.1 million in early 1996, his health was restored through the use of Saquinavir, the first protease inhibitor to receive FDA approval in 1995.

In addition to being a person living with AIDS, Reed participated in experimental HIV treatments, such as the Compound Q trials, which he recorded in his diary The Q Journal (1991).

Reed also experienced the waves of AIDS bereavement common to the early years of the pandemic, having lost his lover Tom in 1990 and several acquaintances, peers, and friends--notably his intimate long-term friend Cap in 1996. This personal history and epidemiological context informs all of Reed's writings, as they document the changes and challenges facing a writer living with AIDS.

Reed himself succumbed to complications of AIDS on January 28, 2002.

Author: Isola, Mark John
Entry Title: Reed, Paul
General Editor: Claude J. Summers
Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Culture
Publication Date: 2007
Date Last Updated June 13, 2007
Web Address www.glbtq.com/literature/reed_p.html 
Published in 1984, Facing It was acclaimed by Rita Mae Brown and others as the first AIDS novel. Longing, the tale of a young man's search for love in San Francisco's gay community, was praised by the New York Times for its evocative style. Vertical Intercourse, his final novel, deals with aging and loss in the gay male community and was praised by media ranging from Publishers Weekly to the Bay Area Reporter and Frontiers, to The Stranger, Seattle's weekly alternative newspaper. — From Paul Reed's obituary, Bay Area Reporter, Feb. 2, 2002
As an incisive chronicler of social upheaval, and an author skilled at depicting internal states with ringing honesty, his humanism transcends the spirit of his times. Thus, many may yet find his tone enjoyable, his vision acute, and his wisdom instructive. --Bill Brent in Paul Reed, Longing, Celestial Arts, 1988 for The Lost Library, Gay Fiction Rediscovered, edited by Tom Cardamone

Paul Reed, 1994, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1124026 )
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html)

Further Readings:

Vertical Intercourse by Paul Reed
Paperback: 201 pages
Publisher: Black Books (October 1, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1892723069
ISBN-13: 978-1892723062
Amazon: Vertical Intercourse

Here, with Vertical Intercourse, comes Paul Reed`s long-awaited third novel, a stunning, stylish, and deeply moving tale of nine friends. Set in San Francisco - with all the haunting lyricism for which Reed is known - this novel examines the beauty of romance, the challenges of relationships, and confrontations with the past. As the novel opens, the narrator is meeting with his new therapist for the first time, hoping to find meaning as he approaches his fortieth birthday. His rich social life involves an intriguing group of men and women, each filled with enthusiasm and the joy of living fully, despite difficulties and setbacks - from the ebullient young woman called `Mad Mama,` to AIDS patient Michael, and the narrator`s housemates and best friend Charlton, an older gentleman with all the wisdom and grace of having seen it all. But the inevitable challenges of life intervene, and each character must confront the meaning of aging in the gay community, of health crises beyond the epidemic, of masculinity, dashed dreams, and hope.

More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices

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Tags: author: paul reed, particular voices

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