Monthly Archives: November 2013

The Annual Holding Breath World AIDS Day Free Book Promotion

I’ve decided to make a tradition that I actually care about, now that Thanksgiving is over (as far as holidays are concerned, Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day are the only ones I really love; don’t even get me started on how I feel about Columbus Day).  Last year, shortly after I published Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, I realized that it would be appropriate to give free Kindle versions of the book away for World AIDS Day (December 1st).

This year, the book will be free starting tomorrow (11/29/13), and the offer will be good through Sunday, which will be World AIDS Day.  After that, I won’t be giving it away again until next year.

So far, the book has a 4.6 out of 5 star rating from 21 reviews on Amazon.com (and another 5-star review on Amazon U.K.).  As usual, if you download the book (or buy the print version) and read it and feel like leaving a review, I’d really appreciate it.  Every one helps, and they’re fun to read (except for that one 2-star one…).

Here ya go (and then I’m done with the book giveaways!):

http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Breath-Memoir-Wildfire-ebook/dp/B009TV4CE6/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1377225007&sr=1-1&keywords=holding+breath+bevilaqua

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An Excerpt From Holding Breath

Some recent comments about life on the street, and about homeless shelters, on what I consider perhaps the best and most important blog on WordPress, Dennis Cardiff’s “Gotta Find a Home” (http://gottafindahome.wordpress.com/ ), reminded me of a part of my own book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days.  Since I haven’t posted any excerpts here in a long time, I thought I’d like to post that section here.

The section recounts a description–probably partially fictionalized where my memory of what David actually told me failed me, but, I think, accurate nevertheless–of a night David (the book’s hero) spent after leaving the hospital “against medical advice.” Here it is:

Swaying, he looked up toward First Avenue and then back down toward Tompkins Square Park.  He had to get inside somewhere and get some sleep so that he’d have the strength to get himself set up in the morning.  There was a shelter on 3rd Street, but even if he had a chance in hell of talking someone into letting him in this late he’d be up all night with cockroaches crawling on his face and crackheads and thieves roaming among the cots, looking for something they could sell or keep.  The hospital, he told me, had spoiled him for all of the things he could have put up with as a junkie.

There was a bandshell in the park, but by then Sam knew that he had to be inside somewhere, safe and unmolested so that he could really sleep.  It occurred to him that the subway station on Fourteenth and First was his best bet.  It would be warm and if anyone bothered him it would probably be a cop, giving him a wake-up call by beating a nightstick on the wall next to his head.  He could stretch out on one of the benches at the back of the station.  And if there was a problem he could just jump on the L train and ride all night.

First Avenue looked warmer and brighter, somehow, than Avenue A, so he went that way, stopping often, his arms crossed around him so that the chills wouldn’t split his chest open.  Passing NYU kids dressed up as bikers or junkies or punks, or young bankers downtown to drink and see the sights, all traveling in confused packs in and out of the little Polish-run bars and restaurants, he noticed that most ignored him or gave him a quick up-and-down look.

“Like I just crawled out of a manhole looking for money or drugs,” he put it.  It made him feel safer to know that they were more afraid of him than he was of them—that they couldn’t see his weakness.

By the time he made it to the subway entrance he thought that he might die before he got downstairs.  He was exhausted and sick to his stomach from shivering and not eating, and his chest felt like there was a fire inside.  His legs were numb, and as he hung on to the banister and put one foot after the other down the stairs it was as if he was walking on crooked stilts.

The air inside the station was so thick and hot that it seemed he could grab a handful of it.  There was no one down there except for a token-booth clerk, counting money.

This was the last obstacle.  Sam went to the window of the booth, trying to look as earnest and respectable as he could, and waited until the clerk had finished counting the wad of ones in her hand.  Eventually she looked up at him, expressionless.

“Hi,” he said.  She lifted her chin a little.  He smiled in his gentlest way (the eyes in the photograph, only a little more desperate, more calculating).  “I was wondering if you could help me.  I’m sick and I lost my wallet and I have to get across town or my wife is really going to worry.  Can you just let me through the gate and I promise…”

“You got to pay your fare,” said the clerk, clearly, with a rhythm she obviously used to say the same thing a hundred times a day.

“I just told you, I don’t have my…”

“I just told YOU, you got to pay your fare.”

“Look, please just give me a break.  I’m really sick.  I can’t walk any more.”

“Pay your fare.”  She went back to counting her money.

Sam felt that he might cry.  He’d been arrested once for jumping a turnstile, and he’d spent the night in a bullpen so crowded that he couldn’t sit down, and stinking so much of piss that he didn’t want to.  At the time, having been locked up once or twice before, he’d taken it pretty much in stride; that night he thought it might kill him. He started to walk back over to the stairs, just to sit, but someone was coming down.  It was a teenage girl.  He considered asking her for a token but he was afraid that the only thing that would come out would be a whine or a sob.  The girl went to the token booth.

“Fuck it,” Sam whispered to himself, and he turned and quickly ducked under one of the turnstiles to the other side.

Behind him he heard, “Pay your fare, sir,” but he ignored it and walked to a bench at the end of the platform.  The station smelled almost as bad as the bullpen but he didn’t care because he was going to sleep.  He cleared some pages of the Post off of the bench, took his shirt off and made a pillow out of it, and lay down.  He slept, as he put it, like a dead man.

There the memory ends, not with the image of Sam sitting across the table from me, reciting his story with the attention to detail of a man to whom nothing has happened in a long time, but with that last one, the picture that my mind supplied as illustration:  Sam, viewed from a point far up the subway platform, curled, oblivious and half-naked, mouth slightly open and hair clinging to his damp, smooth forehead, on the bench nearest to where the track goes dark and curves away. 

http://www.amazon.com/Holding-Breath-Memoir-AIDS-Wildfire/dp/1480164518/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1377225007&sr=1-1

The Best Story I’ve Heard in a LONG Time

I just came across this on CNN.com–it’s just wonderful.  I just wrote to Omni Hotels’ corporate offices to commend the manager of their Atlanta Hotel, Scott Stuckey, for doing such an amazingly wonderful thing to reward Joel Hartman–a homeless man who, while dumpster-diving, found a tourist’s wallet and went from hotel to hotel to find her so that he could return it (Mr. Hartman also freely admits that he has problems with drugs, which makes his act even more commendable, for obvious reasons).  If I ever go on vacation again, and I can afford it, I’m staying at an Omni (I actually did stay at the one in NYC when I was actively doing travel writing, and it was awesome–especially for a New York hotel!).

http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/11/23/homeless-stolen-wallet-hero-hotel-thanksgiving?hpt=hp_t3

Free Kindle Book–A Reminder and a Note

I’m posting this for those who might have missed it yesterday.  The Kindle version of my new book of poetry (which contains the five poems included in my first book, Holding Breath: A Memoir of AIDS’ Wildfire Days, along with many others), A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is FREE on Amazon through this Sunday (11/24/13). The link is below.  I’m hoping to get some reviews on the Amazon page and elsewhere by doing this; it really makes a big difference.  After Sunday the price of the Kindle version will go back up to $3.99.  The print version will be available within the next few days (and will be eligible for the new “MatchBook” program, through which someone who buys the print version can also get the Kindle version for a substantially discounted price–in this case, 99 cents).

For those who already downloaded the book early yesterday, when the promotion started, I wanted to let you know that I made some late changes to the text a little later in the day–I changed the Preface, and added a list of the poems at the beginning to make them easier to find within the book.  If those things matter to you, you may want to re-download the book.

OK–no more changes any time soon!  Here’s the link:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

A Rough Deliverance (Kindle version) Now Free on Amazon

I could swear that I posted this last night (maybe things are catching up to me after all!), but it’s not here now.  So, again, the Kindle version of my new book, A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013, is now free (its usual price is $2.99), and will be through this Sunday, 11/24.  I’d love to have as many people as possible read it now that I’ve finally put it together.  If you do pick it up, it would be especially helpful if you would leave a review on its Amazon page (or anywhere else, really!).

For something of a preview, you can read a few of the poems in some of my recent posts here. The poems are about things like love, music, AIDS (and losing someone I loved to it), travel, God, suicide, alcoholism, chance encounters, sex, ambition, hope, and many other things–I’ve had a lot to think, and write, about in the past thirty years.

Here’s the link again.  I hope that I’m not dreaming that I’m posting this one too!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

A Rough Deliverance Ebook Now Available on Amazon

So I got ambitious and got the manuscript for A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013 ready for publication much earlier than I thought I would.  The Kindle version is now available on Amazon.com (the print version will be out shortly as well).  This is how I’ve described the book:

A Rough Deliverance begins with poems the author wrote as an ambitious, conflicted, and sometimes naive 22-year-old college student just learning to navigate her life on her own,a young woman who wanted nothing more than to be a “famous poet.” 

It closes with poems written by a woman thirty years older–in some ways very different, in some ways very much the same, perhaps wiser and perhaps not. She is not a famous poet, but she is someone who has loved deeply, witnessed the ravages of an epidemic from the “front lines,” grieved, traveled extensively, made terrible choices and perfect ones, over-indulged and abstained, raised a wonderful son, wrestled with anger and shame about the past and fear of what’s to come, and finally learned to see all of it as absolutely worthwhile. 

This is a collection of poems that documents a ragged, imperfect, and ultimately joyful life lived one deliverance at a time. 

The poems are about love, family, alcoholism, suicide, travel, chance meetings, sex, AIDS, and many other things.  If you read poetry, or if you’ve liked some of the poems I’ve posted here recently, I hope you’ll take a look (as always, reviews on the book’s Amazon.com page, and elsewhere, are greatly appreciated!).

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GREJ626

A Rough Deliverance

I’ve decided that the title of my new book will be A Rough Deliverance: Collected Poems 1983-2013.  The title is taken from this short poem, which is part of a longer series called “12th and Willow” (an intersection in Hoboken, NJ):

 

October Toast

How the night parades. How wretched all

the milky stars a million years

erupting, the dry cicadas,

silent, sliding

among leaves, this glass

I said I wouldn’t have. Here’s to

a rough deliverance, the fire in the chest.

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