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The Normal Heart

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4.29  ·  Rating details ·  2,967 ratings  ·  186 reviews
THE NORMAL HEART is the explosive drama about our most terrifying and troubling medical crisis today: the AIDS epidemic. It tells the story of very private lives caught up in the heartrendering ordeal of suffering and doom - an ordeal that was largely ignored for reasons of politics and majority morality.

Filled with power, anger, and intelligence, Larry Kramer's riveting p

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Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 29th 1985 by Plume (first published 1985)
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Average rating 4.29  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,967 ratings  ·  186 reviews


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Michael
Dec 24, 2019 added it
Shelves: 2019
Enraged and exhilarating, The Normal Heart takes a lurid look at the early years of the AIDS epidemic in New York City. The plot’s transparently autobiographical, with a brash activist protagonist who’s a clear stand-in for Kramer himself. Again and again, through impassioned speeches and theatrical antics, Ned Weeks seeks to bring to the surface other gay men’s repressed anger toward a political establishment indifferent to their mass suffering and illness. A hastily constructed romantic subplo ...more
Leo Robertson
May 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If anything, understandably soapboxy, but assuredly fucking heartbreaking.
ElphaReads
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So I've mentioned my person David before. For the past few months, David has been reminding me that HBO is making a TV version of THE NORMAL HEART, the emotional, angry, passionate play about the outbreak of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and how it was handily ignored, devastating the gay community. I had been getting facebook posts of teasers, of articles of when it would come out, and finally, last Sunday during our weekly GAME OF THRONES date, the trailer aired. To which he and I started fre ...more
Sookie
Apr 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: plays
Kramer's play is brimming with anger, anguish and anxiety. For a modern reader the anger will set in a little later. For those who have lived through the 90s, will understand the anguish and anxiety having grown up seeing public service announcements about AIDS. We have come far from the days when an entire community's struggle was sidelined because who they chose to love. The struggles the men in this play undergo is real and there are many who struggle the same way to this very day.

This play
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TimInCalifornia
Jan 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Reading this one year into the COVID-19 pandemic made this play not just a piece of history about the start of the AIDS epidemic but something immediately relevant. It made me somehow less angry and more understanding of the spectrum of responses people have when confronted with a deadly virus. Human beings are just wired certain ways. Anger, action, fear, complacency, compromise, conservatism, willful ignorance. All of these are responses and they can come from anyone.

My takeaway? You can’t sa
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charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
Rep: Jewish gay mc, wheelchair using character, gay cast
Theo Chen
Dec 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
2nd go round: I reread The Normal Heart in honour of Larry Kramer, who left us last week. Of course, he never really did or will leave us since he gave us this absolutely incredible call to arms: this blistering, unforgiving, unscrupulous, take no prisoners, fireball of a play with an enormous, gorgeous, still-beating heart at its center. The Normal Heart must be one of the most emotionally affecting, stirring, magnificent works of art I've ever accessed, even in revisits. Its life and vitality ...more
shar
Sep 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
i think i am utterly destroyed ....

• "I'm afraid to be with him; I'm afraid to be without him; I'm afraid the cure won't come in time; I'm afraid of my anger; I'm a terrible leader and a useless lover."

• "Can't you see how important it is for us to love openly, without hiding and without guilt? We were a bunch of funny-looking fellows who grew up in sheer misery and one day we fell into the orgy rooms and we thought we'd found heaven. And we would teach the world how wonderful heaven would be.
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Aldi
I'd seen the film (everyone watch it, please do), so I thought I entered into reading this with some idea, but there isn't really any such thing as "some idea." I went into reading this the same way I went into reading Dancer from the Dance - in high summer, a little intoxicated, a little heart-broken, a little angry; conditions, it turns out, that augment every facet of stories like these; conditions that lend more oppression to the heat, more clarity than one might comfortably welcome to the i ...more
Jennifer Co
hah waaaaaaait I'm sad.

I get that the ongoing stalemate is an integral part of the plot//point being made but it did feel a bit stagnant on the overall.

But this is me demanding development from a screen play. so.

@mattbomer @markruffalo I'm significantly less ready than estar and feeling quite vulnerable atm but here we go (!)
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amomentsilence
Jan 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: ppl interested in plays, activism, historians & history buffs, evr1
Actual rating is both...
3.75 Stars (mostly due to the unremarkable writing)
and 5 stars (for the incredible, heartbreaking tragedy that can't even be described as a "story," for it effected too many lives, brings rage to my heart some thirty years later, and tore apart a man who was simply trying to be the voice of a denied people)

Thus, to be fair, it's gets a rounded 4 stars so we're even.

Review:
Now, I want to say something about this understandably powerful play - I think... seeing it wou
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maria
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
"I belong to a culture that includes Proust, Henry James, Tchaikovsky, Cole Porter, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Marlowe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Tennessee Williams, Byron, E.M. Forster, Lorca, Auden, Francis Bacon, James Baldwin, Harry Stack Sullivan, John Maynard Keynes, Dag Hammarskjold… These are not invisible men. Poor Bruce. Poor frightened Bruce. Once upon a time you wanted to be a soldier.
Bruce, did you know that
...more
Ryan
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, theatre
In light of Larry Kramers death I felt I couldnt put off reading this play any longer. I have read his novel "Faggots" and have had "Thr Normal Heart" on my to read list ever since.

The play is not easy to stomach just as his novel wasnt. Kramer is not a writer that sugar coats or plays it safe in his works
This play is angry, and rightfully so. It confronts the early years of the AIDS epidemic as seen through the protagonists Ned Weeks, who is based on Kramer himself. It shows us a time when the
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Emma Getz
Oct 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-plays, drama
“ It's all there—all through history we've been there; but we have to claim it, and identify who was in it, and articulate what's in our minds and hearts and all our creative contributions to this earth. And until we do that, and until we organize ourselves block by neighborhood by city by state into a united visible community that fights back, we're doomed. That's how I want to be defined: as one of the men who fought the war.”


The Normal Heart is political theatre at its absolute best. Not only
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Roderick Vincent
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Angels in America was better, but still a powerful play on the AIDS epidemic.
Esther
Aug 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think I'm gonna start reading more plays :)

ready for you @markruffalo & @mattbomer
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elle buss
Jul 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
i liked this SIGNIFICANTLY more than the movie adaptation. it broke my heart and brought up extremely valid points
Anna
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt-reads
Heartbreakingly beautiful. Incredibly sad!

I don't even know what to say beside that. Kramer managed to get me invested in these characters in a mere 93 pages and feel their pain as if it were my own. It shed light on some very dark times, times and struggles many people would like to pretend didn't-and still aren't-happening all around the world.
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Nathan
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this play. It had some touching scenes and some wonderfully and unexpectedly funny moments. It was preachy at times, but in a good way. It does a very good job capturing in two hours of dialog what Randy Shilts did in 650 pages in And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic. On its loudest level, this play is a scream for justice. But I kept coming back to the title - The Normal Heart. In between the passion, grief and frustration of the characters' lines, th ...more
Inga
Jul 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Devastating, heartbreaking, brutal, true, educational, witty, warm, sharp, angry - I so felt with Ned and his urge to yell at everyone responsible non-responding and just to yell in general into the face of the insanity of it all. Can´t even begin to imagine what it must have been like to live in this crazy, scary, unreal deadly time and weirdly closed-off bubble, left alone in this fight and not knowing what could come next and who to lose next. This should be required reading. Since it´s a pla ...more
Theresa
Mar 26, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I nearly bawled reading this last night.
Samantha (AK)
The star rating is especially meaningless on this one. Plays aren't really meant to be read; they're meant to be performed and/or observed, and that makes it harder to judge them on the script alone. The bad news is that I haven't seen a stage production of "The Normal Heart." The good news is that I did get to watch The Normal Heart (2014), which I found to be not only a faithful adaptation, but actually richer than its source material. (More on that later).

Larry Kramer's work, near as I can te
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Shivani Maurya
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Only about a week after reading The Normal Heart did I realize that Goodreads wasn't the first place I came upon the play..And the epiphany had me dropping my broom (I was cleaning at the time) and rushing top-speed to my laptop to drudge up the articles on the Broadway production..Turns out I was right..What I had recalled was Jim Parsons' Instagram post about his excitement at taking part in the production..At the time I had no idea what it was about nor did I look into the details..But with ...more
Shanti Boyle
Dec 03, 2019 rated it liked it
There's a kind of guilty discrepancy that accompanies reading about an atrocity that has little to no bearing on your life. Larry Kramer does a lot of good things here: his wrought emotion, complex relationships, and psychologically interesting characters, for instance. But his treatment of women within the play leaves something to be desired. All in all, I could not get past the fact that he kept referring to the doctor as "Emma" instead of "Dr. Brookner". It felt like he was ignoring her own s ...more
Ashton
May 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very quick, and although I am not a big fan of screenplays, this was a very nice read.
Rafi
Jul 05, 2020 rated it liked it
More memoir / agitprop than literary , if that’s a fair distinction
Keith Moser
Jun 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, plays, e-book, 2016
Read this in prep for a staged reading I'm a part of next week since I'm missing the impromptu rehearsal/read-thru with the cast today.

Holy crap.

First, I didn't realize my character, Ned, is both the lead (he's basically in all but two? scenes) and an author surrogate for Larry Kramer. Second, I knew the script was chosen for Pride Month and had gay themes but I knew nothing about its plot. Did not expect to end up crying at work while reading the second act...

For anyone else who didn't know, T
...more
Casey M.
I was first exposed to this play in a dramaturgy workshop this past summer. In the workshop, we read the first scene and analyzed it. We discussed the context and the characters, and I realized that I was very interested in reading it further, so I picked up the book this fall. I had never read plays for fun before, and I found that I really enjoy reading them. I was drawn to the strongly opinionated characters and the way the dialogue worked, and I thought it was especially intriguing since it ...more
Eric
May 04, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a loosely autobiographical play about Larry Kramer's AIDS awareness crusade of the early eighties. Ned Weeks (the Kramer character) had two difficulties: first, the straight media was unwilling to give headlines to what was perceived as a "gay disease", and gay journalists and officials were unwilling to come out of the closet and say what needed to be said. Second, the gay community, fresh from its own sexual revolution, was rebellious against any idea of abstinence.

I'm of two minds her
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Julie
Jul 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
I read A Normal Heart in an hour or two in the midst of my read-obsessively-about-AIDS-in-the-1980s kick. This kick is a very depressing one, as is A Normal Heart, a one-act play chronicling the experiences of Ned Weeks, an outspoken gay man battling government bureaucracy and community alienation during the earliest years of the outbreak.

Yet strangely, and wonderfully, ANH is also funny, poignant, poetic, brash and, well, just wildly human. To characterize Kramer's story as thinly-veiled autob
...more
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Larry Kramer (born June 25, 1935) was an American playwright, author, public health advocate and gay rights activist. He was nominated for an Academy Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and was twice a recipient of an Obie Award. In response to the AIDS crisis he founded Gay Men's Health Crisis, which became the largest organization of its kind in the world. He wrote The Normal Heart, th ...more

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“I belong to a culture that includes Proust, Henry James, Tchaikovsky, Cole Porter, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle, Alexander the Great, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Christopher Marlowe, Walt Whitman, Herman Melville, Tennessee Williams, Byron, E.M. Forster, Lorca, Auden, Francis Bacon, James Baldwin, Harry Stack Sullivan, John Maynard Keynes, Dag Hammarskjold… These are not invisible men. Poor Bruce. Poor frightened Bruce. Once upon a time you wanted to be a soldier.
Bruce, did you know that an openly gay Englishman was as responsible as any man for winning the Second World War? His name was Alan Turing and he cracked the Germans' Enigma code so the Allies knew in advance what the Nazis were going to do — and when the war was over he committed suicide he was so hounded for being gay. Why don't they teach any of this in the schools? If they did, maybe he wouldn't have killed himself and maybe you wouldn't be so terrified of who you are. The only way we'll have real pride is when we demand recognition of a culture that isn't just sexual. It's all there—all through history we've been there; but we have to claim it, and identify who was in it, and articulate what's in our minds and hearts and all our creative contributions to this earth. And until we do that, and until we organize ourselves block by neighborhood by city by state into a united visible community that fights back, we're doomed. That's how I want to be defined: as one of the men who fought the war.”
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