Above: “Stroke Book” cover, back cover, author Jonathan Alexander.
Photo by Carla Wilson.
“Stroke Book: Diary of a Blindspot” by Jonathan Alexander
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Title: Stroke Book: Diary of a Blindspot
Author: Jonathan Alexander
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Publisher: Fordham University Press
Publication Date: Tuesday, October 26, 2021
ISBN: P 9780823297672
BISAC: SOCIAL SCIENCE /LGBT Studies / Gay Studies (SOC012000), BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY /Medical (incl. Patients), (BIO017000), HEALTH & FITNESS /Diseases / Nervous System (incl. Brain)(HEA039110)
Format: 5 x 8
Extent: 208 pages
Word Count: 21,000 words
Territorial Rights: World
Sales/Orders: Joseph A. Martino Hall, 45, Columbus Avenue, New York, NY, 10023, USA. 646-868-4206, Fax: 347-842-3083
Orders: Ingram Academic Services, 210 American Drive, Jackson, TN, 38301, USA. 800-343-4499
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Press Release: Author Jonathan Alexander Makes Lambda Literary October’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Books List
Press Release: The Queer Time Warp + Five Ways Queerness + Age = Power
Press Release: Being Queer is EVERYTHING! (That you “just happen to be” LGBTQ is a Lie.)
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Fordham University Press
While Jonathan Alexander’s books are available at the major online retailers, we strongly urge readers to support their favorite queer and independent bookstores, such as the Bureau of General Serviced–Queer Division in New York and Skylight Books in Los Angeles, both of which are supporting Jonathan with online events in November. Check “56 LGBTQ-Owned Bookstores You Can Be Proud to Support” (organized by state) from Oprah Daily to find a queer book shop near you.
In the aftermath of an unexpected medical crisis—a minor stroke—the author considers how a lifetime in a society still toxic to queer people has impacted his health as well as his perception of queer time. Untethered to the markers of heteronormative life (marriage, birth of a child, raising kids, grandchildren), how do we queers experience time? Our aging bodies?
“Stroke Book” Comparisons
Patrick Anderson’s “Autobiography Of A Disease” deals with a similar medical crisis and the author’s attempt to understand it in the context of his life. Christine Hyung-Oak Lee’s “Tell Me Everything You Don’t Remember: The Stroke That Changed My Life” recounts its authors handling of an unexpected stroke, particularly in relation to cultural issues as a Korean American, in much that same way that Alexander contextualizes his stroke as a gay man. And Herve Guibert’s “To The Friend Who Did Not Save My Life” recounts in fragmented form, much like Alexander’s, the trauma and possibility of confronting one’s mortality, Guibert from AIDS, Alexander from a stroke.
About the Author
Jonathan Alexander is a writer living in Southern California where he is Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author, co-author, or editor of twenty-one books. His cultural journalism has been widely published, especially in the Los Angeles Review of Books for which he is the Young Adult editor, where founding editor Tom Lutz called him one of “our finest essayists.” He lives with his husband and cat, and when not writing, dabbles in watercolors and plays piano in a music ensemble with friends. For more about Jonathan Alexander and his books please visit the Jonathan Alexander page at http://www.popularpublicity.com, http://www.thecreeptrilogy.com and his website, http://www.the-blank-page.com.
Excerpt (from two difference sections of the book)
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What does one do with time? Is there a more important question that is as difficult to answer? Of course, there is. But this is the difficult question most present in my mind right now, the one about which my life seems to pivot. What do I do with time, especially when I am made aware not just of how little I might have, but of how it might disappear at any moment?
Not everyone will understand this story. Not everyone should. And I’m actually glad for this. If you were born in a different time and place, perhaps later than I was and more on an East or West Coast, then you’re not likely to know quite the anxiety that has become my constant companion, my most trusted friend. Because I know he’ll never desert me.
And I’m glad for you. Truly. I hope this is you.
I heard a young queer writer, actor, and filmmaker recently talk about his coming out. He grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, so I initially thought that his story might be like mine. But no, he’s so much younger. Times have changed, even in Jackson, Mississippi. Sure, not totally. His parents weren’t happy. They sent him to a therapist. But not a reparative therapist, mind you; a legit therapist to help him cope with being gay.
I’m glad about this, even as I resent it just a little bit. Not that he got help. Not that he’s okay. But that, just a couple of decades earlier, my story seems so different, so fucking different.
Different times, different places. Stories shape us, but always in space and time, which shape the stories.
I cannot give you my space and time. I would not wish it on you. But I will tell you about it. I hope you won’t fully understand it, not in your bones, in your quaking bones, where it counts. But I still need to tell you about it.
Growing up in the Deep South, in the 1980s. Reagan’s America. The height of AIDS in America. The fear of dying from being homosexual. The fear of eternal damnation.
I say it again. I repeat myself. This is the history that never leaves me. These are the times and the places that are never far from me. I would say, this is the context that conditions my vision. These are the bits and pieces of my life that are rarely out of my sight.
They are also the bits and pieces that can become dislodged at times, and want to kill me. They are there even when I don’t see them, even when they look like a blindspot.
Perhaps what I have ultimately learned from the writing of this book is that there is no experience, no queer experience of health crisis, that is also not an experience of time as queered. The blindspot that my stroke left behind has become the fragmentation of my vision that has become the pieces of a narrative—of a self—that has been subject to continual temporal rearrangement, to a backtracking, a questioning, a speculation about my queerness in relation to my stroke, my stroke in relation to my queerness, but also an opening to a future, however now seemingly truncated, that demands, that beckons, that pleads to be felt and lived anew, made up, created, possible.
At least that’s what I have come to believe. None of this is easy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. There is so much to say, and only so much time in which to say it.
With that said, a final disclaimer: No time, no queer time, is consistent from person to person, from hour to hour, or even from hour to hour within the phenomenal experience of an individual person. Mine is not yours, just as yours cannot ultimately be mine. But this—this is mine, and, perversely, sometimes this isn’t even mine, and I invite you to experience what you will of it. •