Lauren Albert's Reviews > The Blackwater Lightship

The Blackwater Lightship by Colm Tóibín
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's review
Jan 09, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction
Read in January, 2010

I've always disliked segmenting literature: "Jewish American fiction"; "Gay fiction." Good fiction is as close to universal as is possible no matter who the characters are. Toibin shows an estranged family coming together over the impending death of one of its members. The fact that Declan, the ill brother, has AIDS mostly matters only in that it is a terrible terminal illness that causes suffering. The central fact is that Declan is loved by his family and friends and that love they have for him breaks through long-standing estrangements and anger. It would be cliche (and oversimplified in this case) to say that tragedy brings them together. But their love for him does remind them of how easily we can lose what we never appreciated enough.
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