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You Are Here: A Memoir of Arrival    by Wesley Gibson order for
You Are Here
by Wesley Gibson
Order:  USA  Can
Back Bay, 2004 (2004)

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* *   Reviewed by Sally Selvadurai

Wesley Gibson's memoir - about moving to, and rooming in, the Big Apple - reads more like a work of fiction than a real-life story. Wesley shares with the reader his struggle to get a place to stay in New York after his long-term relationship failed. He made the decision to go, 'led ... here with all the other people, who have been led here too by the myriad happenstance of their own lives, all the sedimented accumulations ...' so that he could be more inspired to continue his writing. As is often the case, the words came slowly and the need to feed and clothe himself led to a catering job, a telemarketing interlude and a job teaching creative writing at the Gotham Writer's Workshop.

Gibson comes across as a fatalistic hypochondriac, first believing that his new roommate John is a serial killer, only to discover later that John is deathly ill. However, Gibson finds that his feelings for, and empathy with, John are stronger than he has enjoyed with his own family. When we are isolated from kin, strangers often become family and family slips back into those people who never really understood lifestyle choices but tried to accept them to the best of their abilities ... because, of course, Wesley Gibson is gay, and has learned to live with the constant threat of sickness and loss. Gibson certainly found the words for his book in the end. In fact at times he reminded me of one of his students who ... 'was already a problem since there didn't seem to be any way to shut her up short of surgically wiring her jaw shut.' There was a feeling of verbal diarrhea occasionally, as though Wesley had to put all his thoughts down on paper, though he did manage to do this with a great deal of humour, and sometimes rancour.

Reading You Are Here was entertaining, with a fictional feel to it, despite its being a memoir. At the same time the account is tinged with a sadness and despair that has become a part of the lives of many homosexuals who often have to face their mortality earlier, and more frequently, than the rest of us.

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