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Hospital Time

Hospital Time is a memoir about friendship, family, and caregiving in the age of AIDS. Amy Hoffman, a writer, lesbian activist, and former editor of Gay Community News, chronicles with fury and unflinching honesty her experience serving as primary caretaker for her friend and colleague, Mike Riegle, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1992. Hoffman neither idealizes nor deifies Riegle, whom she portrays as a brilliant man, devoted prison rights activist, and very difficult friend.
Hoffman became central to Riegle’s caregiving when he asked her to be his health-care proxy, and although she willingly chose to do this, she explores her conflicting feelings about herself in this role and about her involvement with Riegle and his grueling struggle with hospitalization, illness, and, finally, death. She tells of the waves of grief that echoed throughout her life, awakening memories of other losses, entering her dreams and fantasies, and altering her relationships with friends, family, and even total strangers.
Hoffman’s memoir gives voice to the psychological and emotional havoc AIDS creates for those in the difficult role of caring for the terminally ill and it gives recognition to the role that lesbians continue to play in the AIDS emergency. A foreword by Urvashi Vaid, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, offers a meditation on the politics of AIDS and the role of family in the lives of lesbians and gay men.

Hospital Time is necessary, powerful, full of the detail of authentic struggle, and beautifully done. Hoffman is right out there naked in real life with all her convictions and full sense of her community. Her book is a revelation.”—Dorothy Allison

“Amy Hoffman details, without flinching, what it feels like to be responsible for a friend who is dying. From the middle of an experience most of us avoid at all costs and against a backdrop of far too many deaths, Hoffman constructs a sharp political memoir about the experience of lesbian and gay families in the time of AIDS. This insightful and disquieting book delivers a moving elegy on the quality of queer friendship, straight culture’s abdication on AIDS, the meaning of mourning, and the possibility of redemption.”—Urvashi Vaid, from the foreword

“Hospital Time is a brilliantly crafted memoir about the writer's struggle to bear witness to the death of a friend. Hoffman's story, written in short, breathtakingly compressed chapters, chronicles life at the center of the AIDS epidemic: intense, terrifying, simultaneously suffused with meaning and empty. Hoffman avoids any cliche of the noble death, instead offering us a relentless view of her own excruciating moral struggles in the face of her disintegrating family. Hospital Time moves, not in a straight line, but like life does—like AIDS does—unpredictably, unforgivingly: as a series of overlapping losses, each more devastating than the last.”—Stephanie Grant, author of The Passion of Alice

Amy Hoffman is a writer living in Boston.

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Named to the 1998 Books for the Teen Age by the Young Adult Services Division of the New York Public Library

Finalist, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Book Award
Social Responsibility Roundtable of the American Library Association
Finalist, Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction
Publishing Triangle