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Hardcover What I Did Wrong Book

ISBN: 0670034843

ISBN13: 9780670034840

What I Did Wrong

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Format: Hardcover

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Book Overview

Set in a rapidly gentrifying New York City determined to move beyond the decimation of a generation a decade earlier, What I Did Wrong is a day in the life of Tom, a forty-two-year-old English... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Lesson in Survival

This book, among many other magical things, is about survival. The survival of the terrors and bigotry of youth (is there any place on earth more full of hate and fear than a typical American high school?). The survival of the scourge of AIDS, especially AIDS in New York City in the 80's and 90's. The survival of never having self-esteem but creating a life in spite and because of this. The survival of loving people who are not wholy available; spiritually, sexually, psychologically. As another great writer named Joni Mitchell has said, "Lesson in Survival, Spinning out on turns, That gets you tough, Guru books---the Bible, Only a reminder, That you're just not good enough . . . " The main character of What I Did Wrong tells us what he sees in the world around him: lost skinny boys becoming poets, found muscle gay boys digging their heals in to avoid death but not avoiding death. This book at times feels like a balloon that is floating up out of reach, what the hell is this story about? It can be exasperating. This book contains---hands down---some of the most gorgeous prose of the last decade but it is seemingly wasted on characters who are insufferable in their lack of direction. But that is the point, yes? All survivors are smarter than where they land. They are bigger and brighter and more full of screaming feelings that no one hears until a wonderful writer like John Weir comes along. The main character of What I Did Wrong, Tom, is a survivor. A gay survivor. An AIDS survivor, though he is not infected. He is affected, as they say. That being affected is the soul and spine of this great book. Thousands of beautiful, hopeful, scarred young men were drawn to New York City in the late 70's and 80's because it was a place to be free to be. And yet so many died before their freedom blossomed into real self-actualization. And each death of each Zach affected a Tom, who lives on with a head and heart full of stories, moments, once were's and might have beens. John Weir is the real deal. I don't want to wait 10 more years for writing that is this astonishing. Astonishing because it is true. One thousand bravos.

Author Blasts His Snarky Readers

Yo, it's me John Weir. I wrote this book! It's true. My mother told me never to respond to critics - she meant my 6th grade gym class - but, whatever, I can't stop myself, and so I just want to ask: What's all this about my novel, *What I Did Wrong*, not having a plot? Or "much of a plot?" For one thing, it has a lot of plots. Somebody dies, somebody has sex in a doorway, somebody gets a job in Queens, somebody boxes naked with his high school best friend: Is that not enough action for you? Second of all, who says plots have to be all about physical action in the world? Can't plots also have to do with a character reflecting on his or her life and seeing connections between and among events - learning what her or his life has been about, in other words? Does it always have to be, like, "And in the end it turned out that Rosebud was his sled?" Or, you know, "Guess what? Bruce Willis is dead!" Alfred Hitchcock himself admitted that a plot was a kind of giant false lead that mattered very little in terms of the overall arc of the story. Ever see Hitchcock's *The 39 Steps*? The big mystery is, Who killed the overdressed German lady who picks up Robert Donat at a magic show? That's the ostensible plot. And: What are the 39 steps? Watching the movie, though, you realize pretty quickly that Hitchcock couldn't really care less about murderers and mysteries. Mostly, he wants to show you how a man and a woman who hate each other get handcuffed together and end up sharing a bed and then falling in love. It's kind of a (very) soft-core porno film in the middle of this supposed mystery. Really, it's Hitchcock's wet dream - being handcuffed to a pretty blonde! What does big old Alfred care about "plot?" It's a device put there in order to let us have our sex guilt-free, a roll-in-the-hay in the guise of a "plot." And, I mean, "plot?" There must be a *plot?* What about the whole history of 20th century art? Ever see a movie by Michelangelo Antonioni? *L'Avventura*! A bunch of rich Italians get on a boat and lie around in early '60s swimwear until one of them disappears. They dock alongside a craggy island and search for her for a while, but, whatever, sooner or later they sort of give up, they never find her, and, in any case, wouldn't you rather watch Monica Vitti wander around Sicily in sleeveless tailored sack dresses than search for someone you hardly know on a cold and rainy island? The movie lets go of its big plot point really early on, just drifts away from it, and then you're free to forget about plot and think about more important stuff, like, "Why are these people so unhappy?" Or, "What's happening under the surface of their everyday ordinary lives?" Or, "Who knew Sicily had so many big empty town squares?" Or, "If you were Monica Vitti, would you sleep with *that* guy?" Antonioni's movies tease you with plot and then wander away from it. It's deliberate: Once you're denied the traditional conventions of "plot," you

An extraordinary novel

I was expecting great things from John Weir's "What I Did Wrong," having been a fan of his first novel, published in 1989; I didn't imagine, however, the novel would be even more powerful and affecting than I had anticipated. It is, quite simply, the strongest recounting of the experience of AIDS in the lives of urban gay men that I've read since Allen Barnett's masterful "The Body and Its Dangers." Moreover, Weir's handling of time--the novel's intelligent and restless movements between present and past, between what is still here and what is gone--is at once bold and entirely assured. This is the novel that I'll be pressing upon all of my friends this year.

I loved it

fluid and funny and charming -- and smart about who we are and how we get there. I loved this book! the structure felt completely natural to me, like thinking

Wonderful, Funny & Moving

I'm not sure how anyone could feel the form of Weir's novel is problematic - it's discursive structure perfectly suits this tender and acerbically witty work. The narrator, Tom, (a subtle nod to Tennessee Williams, perhaps?) wrestles with the arc of his life and his choices - a neat, condensed story with a linear time frame would not only miss the point, but be a damn sight less entertaining as well. There's not a page that goes by without at least one genuine laugh, insight and heart rending insight - often all at once. Leave aside its rather prodigious poignance and intelligence (both of which steadily stream from the pages), Weir can flat out write with a command and relish few can match.
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