What do you say to a young man who is dying? And if that young man is dying of AIDS and was your lover whom you’ve left one year past, what do you then do? In Ted Wojtasik’s complex novel of gay love, the problem isn’t one of coming out of the closet—it’s one of maturing into responsible love. And Wojtasik superbly mixes the unlikely combinations of Central European history, Admiral Peary’s North Pole Expedition, the artistry of collage, a cross-dressing singer, an upcoming gay playwright thwarted by the national onset of AIDS, and homo-erotic love into just such a life object lesson for his young protagonist, Zee.
To reach such responsibility and understanding, Zee must shuffle memories of his grandfather, a resistance fighter in World War II; his research at the National archives into Admiral Peary’s letters; his collage art; his obsessive sexual encounters, and mostly his leaving Matthew for . . . "Oh, Matthew, everything. Everything seemed such a burden. The relationship, the city, the Archives, my father’s carping about job security. Just everything. I couldn’t separate one thing from another. It all just formed a huge rectangle of burden when all I wanted to do was to have the time to make collages." Of course, Wojtasik’s controlling metaphor is just that: a collage. By the time you finish this sometimes harsh, always heartwarming novel, you will, along with Zee, discover the importance of piecing together.
ISBN, trade paper: 978-1-931982-34-4 price: $14.95 Sale $5.50
ISBN, library edition: 0-942979-33-3 price: $25.00 Sale $10.50
Ted Wojtasik is the chairman of the Creative Writing Department at St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, NC. He holds an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University and a Ph.D. in 20th-century American literature from the University of South Carolina. In 2003 he served on the Literature Fellowship Panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2003 he also conducted research and taught for the fall semester at the Ezra Pound Center for Literature at the Brunnenburg Castle in Merano, Italy. His short story "Scars and Frost" received an honorable mention in O.Henry Festival Stories 2000, a national fiction competition sponsored by Greensboro College. His first novel, No Strange Fire, based upon Amish barn fires in Pennsylvania, received a 1997 Silver Angel Award from Excellence in Media and "Editors' Choice 1996" from Booklist. He has also published short stories and book reviews in various literary journals and newspapers.
What do you say to a young man dying?
The name starts the visibility.
Zee, for short—pronounced just like
The name is Yugoslavian.
the last letter in the American
That night, after work,
alphabet. I rode the Metro from downtown Washington to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, to see
In the hall I saw Nurse Scott frowning at a chart on a clipboard.
I called her name and abruptly she looked up and over.
When she saw me, her face discomposed, her eyes tilting into sorrow.
“When?” I asked.
“This morning, Zee. At ten o’clock.”
The same time Commander Robert Edwin Peary, Jr. stood for the first time on
“I’m sorry, Zee.”
the North Pole.
I stood there on the third floor. In the hall. Not moving.
Dr. Thornton stepped out of a room and walked over to me.