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Anatomy of AIDS by Rick Beck


Merkin

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I don't know how many of you are following Rick Beck's Anatomy of AIDS. I had decided not to--I've experienced and lost enough companions and friends to this tragic disease to put me completely off anything that looked like it would be yet another depressing and desperate recounting of circumstances I already knew too personally and too well.

Thankfully, I needed something from AD to read the other day and sampled, with great misgiving, the first couple of chapters. Let me say right off that Rick's title is somewhat misleading. His fully-formed characters and compelling storyline take over from the first chapter and drive the reader onward into a territory as vast as it is inspiring, for this is nothing less than a compassionate, deeply understanding, and learned recounting of the past fifty years or so of our shared background and inheritance. It encompasses and accounts for the changes to our society that have steamrolled onward from post-World War II American prosperity through to the present day, and it begins to suggest a vision for the future that, however quixotic and utopian, is thoroughly compelling and worth your consideration.

I've got up to his latest chapter, Chapter 13, where matters have reached something of a cliffhanger, and I'd like to encourage all of you who haven't yet investigated this rich narrative to do so now so we can all see where Rick's thoughts, ambitious and profound, will take him and us. http://www.awesomedude.com/rickbeck/AoA/index.htm It's well worth your time.

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Rick Beck has been a terrific writer for years, and I admire him for even trying to do a story about AIDS. AIDS is not something I even see mentioned very often in online fiction, and he has great courage and compassion to go out of his way to delve into this kind of very serious topic.

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I agree with the Pecman, there are few well written stories about AIDS on most of the fiction story sites. The disease colored gay life in the 80's and scared the hell out of everyone. I lost...we all lost...so many friends before there was any way to stop the dying and perhaps no one wants to write those stories anymore. Rick is brave to venture over that old ground.

Like so many of his stories, this one has a special human touch that preaches without being obnoxious and brings out the details of life. I like his characters even though one of them is a damn lawyer. My only criticism of the story is that it seems to have been written too fast and should have had another round of editing before posting. Typos distract us all and I am just as guilty of creating them.

As for writing abut AIDS, I included the disease in only one of my past stories and it was such an emotional journey that I may never revive it again. So many gay men alive today owe their existence to the heroes who combat that disease and develop the medicines. AIDS may never go away but smart people know how to avoid it.

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Rick is a brilliant writer and at first I recoiled from the topic as I did with Chris's Civil War era piece, the Boys of Blue and Gray and Nazi Germany era Vandervogel by Solsticeman... but again the magic is in the execution and all three of these stories are so well done despite their settings.

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Dude set me thinking... I hadn't fancied reading about AIDS... too depressing... but then I probably wouldn't have tackled a story set in WW2 Germany either... potentially just as depressing... so I thought "fair do's I'll give it a go if Dude says so!"

I'm hooked... six chapters in and I haven't got much work done today. It's catching... I want to see how it all fell into place. Well done Rick, here's another one waiting for the next instalment... of a story with AIDS in the title... Who'd have guessed!

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  • 2 months later...

SPOILER ALERT

I just read Rick's remarkable story and I agree that the title might be misleading. However that does subtract from the nostalgic journey into the sixties and beyond.

I found the depth of historical accuracy overwhelming as it reminded me of our hopes and dreams. Mixing the political forces of LGBTQ liberation and the counter-culture with the lives of the characters to reveal the need for human resources in the fight against the ignorance of the AIDS epidemic is a very serious matter. Rick's handling of it is masterful and, at least for this old flower child, reminiscent of the way life was in those days.

What I found so pleasing was the acknowledgement, and reminder, that the differentiation between the drug culture and the belief we had back then, that love was all we humans needed in order to overcome misguided political corruption and greed. Were we wrong about that? Not according to the way the characters in Rick's insightful and very entertaining story find themselves creating a modern commune of compassion.

It is in the reference to what did happen and could have happened without the peace, love and soul searching of the counter-culture that the title reveals its relevance. An anatomy of Aids is very much a valid backdrop for examining this period of human history. We must not lose where today's freedoms and demands for human rights came from, but Rick's story is so much more than mere history. It is a source of inspiration.

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