Review: Delany’s The Mad Man

The Mad Man

The first Delany book I read, and what an introduction. There’s no point in starting this review off with anything other than the obvious  – this book is full of detailed sexual adventures of men with other men. It is graphic, and there are portions (including accounts of corporphila and more) that are likely to turn off most readers. But, while large portions are given over to descriptions of gay male sex, the book is much more that.

Ostensibly, it’s a sort of supernatural literary thriller / journey of self discovery/self destruction in which the narrator, researching the murder of a philosopher, finds himself engaging in more and more risker and risker sex as the age of AIDS dawns.

But really, this is a book about the AIDS crisis and, I think, a way for Delany to deal with his guilt about surviving it. Delany has spoken repeatedly ( and most directly in 1984) about his own unprotected sex during the AIDS crisis and I think this book was, in part, a way of explaining what is was like in those days, when a whole community thought it might be headed for death. Some fought back, some took precautions, and some dove headlong into risk. This is a story of a man diving headlong into risk and possible death. It isn’t always an easy read, but its worth the time.

Recommended for the enthusiast.

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  1. holladaisy

    You should read Tweak and/or We All fall Down by Nick Sheff

    1. seanv2

      Thanks I hadn’t heard of these but I’ll look into them!

      1. holladaisy

        They’re amazing

      2. seanv2

        thanks for the tip!

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