1984: Selected Letters
I have a Samuel Delany fetish. I have a google alert on the man’s name for Christ’s sake. I have read a bunch of his work, and hope to one day read it all, so I think I can say with some confidence that if you’re interested in Delany and his work, you have to get this book. This is a collection of letters Delany wrote to friends, fans and business acquaintances in the year 1984. He talks about his interests in post structuralism and how it was informing his work, about what movies and films he is seeing, about problems with his partner and in detail about his incredibly risky sex life at the time.
The parts of the book that document Delany’s continued unsafe sex in the cruising scene in New York,right when the AIDS epidemic was really getting going, are harrowing. Delany should be championed for his honesty in portraying this world. No edits appeared to have been made to these letters so we get what Delany was thinking about AIDS at a time when no one really knew what it was. He thought for a while he might be immune, he thought maybe you couldn’t get it from oral sex, he though a lot of things that turned out to be totally wrong. And reading him talking about how he and his community were thinking about this disease as it was first being discussed gave me chills. With all the unprotected sex Delany had in those days, it is amazing he survived, and we are better off because we have had another twenty five years of a brilliant write. Aand we have this book — an amazing document of a crazy time in downtown New York and a remarkable look into one of my favorite writer’s life.