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288 pages, Paperback
First published May 7, 1991
"My queerness was a wedge that was slowly separating me from a sick society"Wojnarowicz's text opens with an essay about an adolescence where neglect, abuse, homelessness and prostitution drove him to hallucinations, and dives headfirst into a reality driven by grief and rage and hunger; by the degeneracy and lies of the family, the suburb, the Church, and the State. It is a manifesto against the silencing of minorities that questions the "pre-invented world" of the "one-tribe nation" that promises a life of security and support only to those who embrace its lies, illusions, and "hatred of diversity." In using language as a weapon, Close to the Knives is a raw and lucid statement of determination. It is gripping and beautiful and its violence speaks power to that which surrounds us all.
“With all these occurrences of death facing me, I thought about issues of freedom. If government projects the idea that we, as people inhabiting this particular land mass, have freedom, then for the rest of our lives we will go out and find what appear to be the boundaries and smack against them like a heart against the rib cage. If we reveal boundaries in the course of our movements, then we will expose the inherent lie in the use of the word freedom.
I want to keep breathing and moving until I arrive at a place where motion and strength and relief intersect. I don't know what's ahead of me in the course of my life and this civilization. I just don't feel I have reached the necessary things inside my history that would ease the pressure in my skull and in my future and in my present. It is exhausting, living in a population where people don't speak up if what they witness doesn't directly threaten them.”