eglantine_br (eglantine_br) wrote,

Dec Books number one

I got a late start with my reading in December. I was busy with the dailiness of things-- I find that I read a whole lot more articles and news stories than ever before, now that I can get them online. And more widely too. How my journalist parents would have loved this online news world!

But I did get a book read in the last two days-- I have mixed feelings about it. I read Tom Eubanks 'Ghosts of St Vincent's'

St Vincent's is a famous hospital that used to be in Greenwich Village. It was founded in the 1840s to deal with the needs of a rapidly expanding city, in the days before anyone knew any way to deal with epidemic disease. New York was having a cholera epidemic.

The hospital took in the poor as well as the wealthy, before the days of insurance. It treated many famous New York people over the years. It was scrappy, gritty, practical. But mostly St Vincent's was ground zero for the emergence of AIDS in the 1980s.

St Vincent's was demolished in recent years to make room for luxury apartments. The land is too valuable for a charity hospital now.

So I picked up this book, thinking it would be a sort of story of the hospital itself. I thought the 'ghosts' would be the patients or the doctors or something. There was a little of that. It had little interjected chapters like that. But mostly it was a memoir of Eubanks himself, of his living through the 70's and 80's as a young gay man in New York. The 'ghosts' are the memories of the friends he has lost, the days that are gone, the frantic joy of being young, and how it all flew apart.

And of course it is the story of the hospital too. Where so many went and did not return. Where Eubanks himself went, and came home again. He is in middle age now, and has seen the city transform completely.

The book was not what I expected. But I read on, moved, saddened. The writing is beautiful, but not intrusive. it is not the kind of book where you stop and pace the room because a particular phrase makes your bones sing. It is the kind of book where you see it as you go, forgetting yourself, waking with a bump when the world intrudes.

I read the whole thing in two days. you guys might like to read it too.
Tags: books, from brooklyn

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