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Last Watch of the Night: Essays Too Personal and Otherwise

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  439 ratings  ·  26 reviews
With Borrowed Time and Becoming a Man-the 1992 National Book Award winner for nonfiction-this collection completes Paul Monette’s autobiographical writing. Brimming with outrage yet tender, this is a “remarkable book” (Philadelphia Inquirer).
Paperback, 320 pages
Published April 15th 1995 by Mariner Books (first published 1994)
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Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
...I've been visiting my own grave for years now--pre-need, as they call it--and I don't require any further vigil from anybody. Unless it is some kind of safety zone. And as long as there's no piety in the gesture. I don't like flowers, but the deer do. Keats and Lawrence and Stevenson all died of their lungs, robbed by a century whose major products were soot and sulfur. We queers on Revelation hill [in Forest Lawn Cemetery], tucking our skirts about us so as not to touch our Mormon neighbors,
Aug 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This is a collection of essays that Monette wrote the last years of his life, while he was fighting against AIDS.

Various are the themes he discusses, each more important than the other.

There is "Puck", named from his dog. Here he describes how the simple core of walking the dog at night has somehow helped Paul and Roger during a very difficult moment in their relationship. At the same time, when Roger is gone, the dog will be the loyal companion and a sort of "family" who has to "approve" as wel
Confession: I've actually never finished this collection (the two last essays and afterthoughts remain unread), because I know that when I do, I'll have read everything Paul Monette wrote from the 1980s on. And I'm not emotionally prepared for that yet. But I've read the majority of it, and it's just. so. good. Almost every single essay is a knockout, though I'm particularly partial to "Puck" and "A One-Way Fare." It's almost unbearably sad to think how much more beautiful writing we might have ...more
When Borrowed Time came out in 1988, I was deep into my life as a librarian, wife, mother. I was expecting my second child and I believed like so many others that AIDs was a disease that would never touch my life. However, for whatever reason, I read Monette's memoir Borrowed Time, of his life with Rog and found the book touching and the events tragic.

More than 25 years later, I was reading about the books published by Open Road Media and there was Paul Monette's name. I had not thought of him i
Apr 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: morbid-books
I bought this collection of essays because it contains my favorite essay about visiting a grave: "3275." That is the number of the author's own grave, beside the first love of his life, whom he lost to AIDS, and beneath the grave of the second, lost several years earlier. Monette wanted his own epitaph to read "Died of Homophobia, Murdered by His Government." It's the only essay I've read written by a dying man contemplating the hole that will swallow him.

Monette didn't believe in life after dea
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I just re-read the short story, Gert from Paul Monette's Last Watch of the Night. I think it's one of the best short stories ever written. The fact that its memoir makes it even more intimate and important. What a beautiful voice in Paul Monette which we lost during the AIDS crisis.
Jun 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
These essays by my second favorite writer ever were written right before he died. They are angry, funny, moving, elegiac. He reaches in and grabs your heart and doesn't let go until you are transformed. Corny? Sue me, I am madly in love with this writing.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Read three in a row by Monette, with this one coming last. Loved it. Reading all three together made it feel like reading a really comprehensive memoir.
Apr 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Excellent collection of essays as Monette deals with the final stages of AIDS. Nicely captures the March on Washington.
Hank Stuever
Jul 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Sort of like a sad epilogue to "Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story" -- in a sense "more" from an author you wanted to read much more of, knowing, tragically, the rest of it was never to come.
Mar 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Monette's voice will move you to a reality that will awaken your soul.
Susan Emmet
Apr 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
More than two months into self-quarantine in Maine, with the library closed and the downtown shut down, we are mining our small home library. COVID led me to decades of memories of friends lost to AIDS which led me to Monette again. Decided to begin with the last essays which choke me and release so much.
As so many have said, things have changed, but the truly entrenched forces, religious and political and corporate, remain in place. This is true for so many (yet and still) marginalized "others.
Beautifully written. Reading this in mid 2018, it's sobering that the religious and political anti-gay forces of the early 1990s have changed so little. I guess the upside is that the book still feels very current. Or, now that I think about it, maybe that's a downside—but if so, it's a negative reflection on society itself, not on the book.
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, lgbtqa
Still written beautifully, still full of love and rage.
Sep 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
After reading this third book by Paul Monett in a row I find myself becoming a huge fan of his work. This volume of essays is a third, I've not read the first two volumes, but loved reading this after reading his two memoirs. It fills in parts left out of the memoirs and weaves through during and after the time when his first partner, Roger, died of AIDS. His writing is deep, wide, and smart. He writes about his travels, which to some extent were driven by the great writers Keats or Edmond Wilso ...more
Neil Mudde
May 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Another wonderful and well thought out book, by Paul Montette, having been involved in being a volunteer in palliative care, sitting besides bed-sides of persons who had barely begun to live dying, back in the nineties I can so relate, to the pain and sorrow, and often being abandoned by their own family,watching other friends die, I am amazed this plague passed me by ( now being 72) as I certainly did not take any of the precautions, and am amazed at the lack of care many of today/s gay active ...more
Clayton Greiman
Dec 26, 2014 rated it liked it
The subtitle is the key to why I ranked the book only three stars. Some of the chapters are too personally related to Mr. Monette's life; they do not engage a reader who was not an intimate acquaintance or a current seeker of a Paul Monette autobiography. A chapter devoted to a re-telling of a friend's encounter with Greta Garbo. An account of travelling to obscure ruins. I kept reading for the clinical details of HIV, of the early struggles to get a grasp of the disease; however, I found I reg ...more
Jennifer Collins
A collection of essays written by Monette in '92 and '93, Last Watch of the Night chronicles his thoughts on family, spirituality and the church, health and disease, writing, and AIDS, primarily as connected to being gay in America in the 1970s and 1980s. All personal and heavily anecdotal, the essays veer between being sorrowful, angry, and celebratory, though Monette's sarcastic humor often comes through as well. While a few of the essays come off as being overly self-indulgent, most of them a ...more
I really enjoyed this and I am interested to read more of Paul Monette's work. It's very honest which is quite refreshing. Being all short stories/essays it is easy to put down and pick up again when you're ready to read a bit more, without feeling like you're leaving something behind. Being written in the 90s it also shows us how far we have come as a society in regards to challenging homophobia and understanding HIV/AIDS. We still have a long way to go, and it feels like things are moving slow ...more
Scott Morrison
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
4 stars, just, somewhat varied in quality.
Jan 21, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Humorous, serious, touching, deeply moving
Inge B
May 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful & poignant book ...more
Brian Rodriguez
Good. Sad book about AIDS.
Keith Bernardo
May 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Again, some of the best prose you will ever read...
Brooks Graham
rated it it was amazing
Jul 16, 2019
Dave Awl
rated it it was amazing
Mar 16, 2008
rated it liked it
Aug 15, 2013
rated it really liked it
Jun 27, 2010
Marisa Miller-McDowell
rated it it was amazing
May 03, 2018
rated it it was ok
Jul 19, 2019
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Documentary: On Brink of Summer's End 1996

Online Guide to Paul Monette's papers at UCLA:

In novels, poetry, and a memoir, Paul Monette wrote about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.

Monette was born in Lawrence, Massac

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“Don't let anyone tell you that the truth can't disappear. If I believe in anything, rather than God, is that I am part of something that goes all the way back to Antigone, and that whatever speaks the truth of our hearts can only make us stronger. Can only give us the power to counter the hate and bigotry and heal this addled world.
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“You need only to have glimpsed it once to know there's a window out of all this black and sleepless night. Then you must use it to hope on. Key to the dream country where all your people are whole again, and the gunboats can't reach you, and the Empire of Hate is rubble. You and your secret dream of freedom are the tidal wave. Keep watch, every night if you have to. As for sleeping, you can sleep when you're dead.” 6 likes
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