Look Away Silence
by Edward C. Patterson
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Review by Kassa at Rainbow Reviews:
4 1/2 stars
This is an intensely emotional story about a young couple that falls in love, only to face the AIDS crisis instead of matching pink rockers on the porch. At a time when the government was refusing to acknowledge the crisis and the immortality of youth cast a protective pall over young gay men, this couple must cope with a horrible disease and the ramifications within their family and larger community. A very intensely moving story that packs an incredible punch, the last half left me crying all the way through it and beyond for some time. This is not a light-hearted tale but combines several important themes and a deeply romantic and fulfilling, yet heart breaking relationship that will resonate and stay with the reader for some time.
Martin Powers meets Matt, a shy blue-eyed cowboy on Christmas eve and although Martin expects the relationship to barely last to New Years, it turns into a permanent partnership. Their happiness in each other create a small bubble around their love and world that is all too soon popped when the horrible specter of Matts dead lover and the crisis of AIDS invades their world. All of a sudden Martin is confronted with issues and problems he has never imagined and struggles with the intense emotions that come along.
The book is divided into four parts. The first depicts how Martin and Matt meet and the first year and a half of their relationship followed by the second part dealing with the AIDS crisis and how it becomes personal and affects their happy world. The third part covers Martin and Matt as they cope with illness and the intense emotions that impact both men and their friends and family. The final fourth part is an epilogue. Each of these is moving and intense as the story is told in first person narrative from Martins point of view. The writing is instantly engaging and engrossing as Martins character is likable and relatable. The pacing is well done and the book is incredibly easy to read, even for all the intense emotion elicited.
The choice of first person narrator makes the story intimate and engrossing, as the reader is able to connect with Martin through his humor, whimsy, fears, and later strength. Although this leaves the other characters with less of a well defined characterization, most notably in Matt, Martin is a strong and sympathetic voice.
Martin is a wonderful character as he is first introduced through his love of laundry and cleaning attachments through his surprising affection and love for a small, blue eyed cowboy that loves snow. Martins maturity, humor and intelligence are at odds with his young age, only twenty years old. Martin is not perfect and struggles through the story with his jealousy, fears, manipulation, and selfishness. His dysfunctional childhood has changed the way he views relationships and although he can look back on his faults, he makes numerous mistakes. However, for all his faults he truly and deeply loves Matt and that love is returned, creating the first solid and meaningful relationship young Martin has ever had. As Martin matures and finds strength and courage where he fears none exist, its easy to forget that he is only twenty three by the end of the story, and Matt was only twenty five. These are incredibly young men who should have been able to grow old together but instead live a full, loving life as best they can.
Woven into the romance between the men are multiple themes about the gay community and the impact AIDS has upon the country and various individuals. Several couples from past works by the author make brief cameos in this story, although the focus never waivers from Martin and Matt. Martin slowly becomes aware and involved in activism and a support group for AIDS caregivers and patients. There are several brief but moving stories told from strangers as they deal with the impact this devastating epidemic had at that time. The supporting characters from both families, their friends, and the perfect stranger all give context and help both men understand the far reaching impact beyond their tragedy. Along side are the realistic concerns about money, insurance, hospital bills, drug costs, jobs, and the reality that life almost stops to care for someone debilitated with AIDS. Although this is fiction, it easily is a depiction of so many couples.
This is certainly not an easy book but undeniable emotionally masterful. The depth of the characters and their story is an important tale that transcends gender and race, highlighting a time that had and continues to have devastating effects. The title is so appropriate and fitting to the characters and the topics. Be sure to have some tissues handy as Martins story is sure to move you to tears numerous times while also giving laughter, love, joy, and happiness beside the sorrow. This is one story that will resonate for a very long after the incredibly beautiful final page.
Review by R.J. Keller
'Look Away Silence' is a beautifully written, intensely emotional novel. The characters are three dimensional and wonderfully flawed. Best of all, Patterson's narrative manages to zoom in on this tragic couple's love and life, then to zoom out on an entire hurting community, and back again without resorting to soapboxing. One word of warning: don't forget to have your tissue box handy.
Review by Ellen
George (Atlanta, GA)
A love story for the ages
Review by Leslie Nichol (Westbook, ME)
Intense and emotional;
a definite "must read"
I have just finished Look Away Silence by Edward C. Patterson. It is an intense and emotional story. I started crying at the 85% point and didn't stop until the end of the book.
I started my career as a professional nurse in 1977 and I remember very vividly the wrath that was AIDS in the 1980s. Mr. Patterson captures that horror well. For those reading this who remember those days, this is a timely reminder; for those who are too young, you should read this book so that we can continue to learn from our mistakes and not make the same mistakes again (especially relevant in these days of gay rights and health care reform).
Even with the sad story, Mr. Patterson is a funny and engaging writer and I found this book hard to put down -- always a sign of a five-star read for me.
Review By Mireille Reyns (Belgium)
Beautiful love story
I'm normally not keen on giving a review, I think I'm not good at it besides I'm a reader not a writer so... But for Edward Patterson I always like to make an exception. Because I truly think he deserves a bigger audience. It would be a shame and a huge waste if his talent should be overlooked.
Why I highly recommend Look
Away Silence ?
You have done your fallen angels proud, Ed !
Review By Todd A. Fonseca
Look Away Silence - A Beautifully
Written Novel (Minneapolis, MN)
Look Away Silence by Edward C. Patterson is a beautifully written novel. Honestly, I'm not sure I can write a review that will do it justice. As in all of Patterson's novels, his characters are incredibly well developed. In Silence the reader is taken on a journey of Martin and Matthew's romance, from their "meet cute" first encounter in the department store, to the tragedy that befalls them during a family Thanksgiving dinner. Patterson lovingly describes the very real and conflicting emotions of commitment, hardship, anger, anguish, and love one must manage while watching the person they love slowly die in before their very eyes.
Holding out hope for a cure all the while intellectually knowing it unlikely torments the soul and anyone who has experienced the loss of a loved one, especially one stricken by a chronic disease or cancer that robs them slowly of their former self, experiences the very heartache that this book so eloquently conveys. I remember the 1980s when AIDS was very much a part of everyday discussions and life, but honestly this has not gotten nearly the press it once had and Patterson's book is a great reminder of a tragic disease that is still in need of a cure. However, Patterson does not play to politics or get preachy in any way. This is really a story of Martin and Matthew, of love, of tragedy, of commitment, and of hope. Few books can touch such a strong emotional chord and I would put Look Away Silence up there with books by Nicholas Sparks such as The Notebook.
Well done Mr. Patterson, well done indeed.
The essence of Love, January
I never was homophobic. I always felt that no one would choose to be a victim of society's hatreds. If anything, I felt sympathy that some people are born so unlike the majority that they become victimized. I was disappointed when I read Ed's book about surviving an American Gulag. I may be a little dense at times but I thought the army had judged him unfairly when they assigned him to the group of misfits. I was hoping he would show the army that they were wrong about him.
Then I read Ed's Indian poems and was completely captivated by their beauty and sensitivity. They made me want to learn more about this man. I finally decided to read "Look Away Silence." After reading this beautiful love story, I completely accept and understand that the essence of love is more than the differing ways that gays and straights express their love. The characters in Ed's story are so real that they must be part of Ed's personal life story. I was so absorbed in "Look Away Silence," that I didn't notice even one error (if there was one),
I have been the
caretaker of three family members during the last year of their lives
(two from lung cancer and one from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma). I felt Martin's
agony and wept as he dealt with all the sorrowful aspects of his lover's
dying experience. A well-written and deeply felt story. Help other customers
find the most helpful reviews
I cried and cried,
March 30, 2011
Let Us Not Forget,
January 2, 2011
I found a book
that made me cry ;-), September 26, 2010
LOOK AWAY SILENCE
by EDWARD C. PATTERSON, September 7, 2010
LOOK AWAY SILENCE is the story of two young men who meet at the tie counter of a major department store in a New Jersey shopping mall at the height of the Christmas season. Within a month they fall in love and set up house together. They share a small group of friends, travel and enjoy life to its' fullest. Tragedy strikes when Matthew is diagnosed with AIDS. Martin was crushed. Now he knew why Matt had always insisted on 'safe-sex'. Did Matthew know his condition when he first took Martin to bed? How could he not have told him? Martin was now faced with a choice - should he just run and get as far away from Matthew as possible, and pray he had not contracted the dreaded disease? Martin dismissed such thoughts immediately. He not only loved Matthew, he was IN love with Matthew. He chose to stay and to face the inevitible with Matthew.
As Matthew's health declines and his condition becomes known to their close friends and to Matt's family it is Martin who takes on the tasks of being a full-time caregiver. This book cannot help but reach out and touch one's heart. It is a sad tale, but all too true in every community around the world. I recall in the early eighties when HIV and AIDS was discovered, and it was called "the Gay Men's Disease". Then all of a sudden women began contrating it too and it was discovered one could get it by intravenous needle sharing, and all kinds of other possibilites were expoused. Needless to say, no vacine and no cure has yet been discovered and far less money is channeled for aggressive research into a cure.
This book needs to be on the Best Seller List of THE NEW YORK TIMES, USA TODAY and all other meaningful "Best Seller" lists. Perhaps a MOVIE? This book makes one search his mind and find understanding and hope.
One cannot help but hold both Martin and Matthew in high regard. I was genuinely touched by this magnificent Author's ability to tell such a heart-rending story.
I could not put the book down; and yes, I admit it made me cry - - - and that is not an easy thing to do.
Look Away Silence
is a must read., July 20, 2010
Their story, set during the onslaught of the AIDS epidemic, conveys the import of family and its many shapes and sizes, the meaning and value of community, the realization that love is a gift not always neatly wrapped with a bow. And, that silence equals death.
Written with an acerbic wit, the story and supporting cast of characters are richly drawn; Martin's somewhat raunchy, but always gritty mother, a friend and mentor in the guise of an aged and wise drag-queen, Matt's tough and compassionate parents, the tried and true lesbian best friends and others literally haul Martin through the pains of self discovery and the duties of unconditional love until he's unbrave no more.
To say Look Away Silence is heart-wrenching is an injustice. This story will double-fist-grab your entire body from the very beginning and may never loosen its grip. Which is apt. We must never forget.
A Tale of Love
and Courage, July 15, 2010
Edward C. Patterson's "Look Away Silence" is a story about many kinds of love besides the romance between Matt and Martin; it is about loving communities and families, and volunteers who take on the difficult duties in order to provide respite to caregivers. It is about people who find strength during crises that they believe will take them down: people who are phenomenally courageous.
I have admired Patterson's novels for some time now, but honestly believe this one to be his best. Inspiring, though-provoking and, yes -- one that will make you cry.
Amazing Book, July