Robert Glück: About Ed
The New York Review of Books, 2023, Softcover, 256 pages, 21.5 × 14.5 cm
About Ed is Glück's portrait of the artist Ed Aulerich-Sugai, his sometime lover, met in the seventies in San Francisco, when gay life emerged unabashedly from the closet. "I wanted to find in Ed something to latch on to that was outside my egotism and fear, my threadbare relation to the world--a leap through Ed into lyric time," Glück has said, and in this book that is both "a novel and my version of an AIDS memoir" he wanted to capture the full range of his feelings for Ed: "estranged from Ed, bored by him, moved by him."
It is a book about the life they lived together--art and writing and family and sex and death--and, composed over many decades, it is also a book about how the past continues to change in memory and to charge the present. "What is the right question to ask about a life?" Glück asks, describing About Ed as a "collaborative project," since "Ed helped me write this book." Ed gave him "notes to fashion a chapter about the day he was diagnosed so I could describe his experience from the inside," and "after Ed died, Daniel, Ed's partner, lent me Ed's dream journals. . . . He started writing them in 1970, the year that we met. We both used his journals, not as puzzles to solve the truth of a self but as a commons producing images that we harvested for paintings and poems. And fifty years later, there I was reading and copying out and running away from his dreams. Are they a condensed version of Ed? Shorthand? Distillation? Is he knowable and unknowable in the same degree sleeping or waking?"