Be Safe by Doug Weaver is a stream-of-consciousness tennis match between Bert and Korn (told in first-person from Bert’s perspective) and Gallagher and Rogarth (told in close third-person focused on Rogarth), with a little bit of an aging Jimmy thrown in toward the latter half. All of these men are gay and addicts (some recovering, some not), and all are HIV-positive as well. They are of an age where their first diagnosis was terminal, but thanks to advancing medicine, they now have a chance at a long and healthy life. Most would consider this a blessing, but when your life is structured around the imminence of your death and you find yourself on a detour, it can be a difficult readjustment.
The beginning of the novel is a bit rough, and it is at first hard to switch between a first-person and third-person stream-of-consciousness narrative. Understanding just whom precisely the author is talking about for the first few chapters is difficult, but after a while it is easy enough to settle into the flow of it. I definitely recommend giving it a chance as the satisfying and almost whimsical ending makes the journey well worth it.
The setting of the novel in Hollywood is wonderfully detailed and gritty, giving the reader a truly immersive feeling. Weaver also does an excellent job of portraying the five characters we stay close to, defining them not by their addictions or diagnoses but by their personalities and choices. All five men are unique individuals with their own motivations and feelings, making for a highly realistic, relatable, and engaging read. While these men all share a particular situation, there is a set of universal truths explored that all readers could benefit from and that could help them to further understand themselves as well as the lives of Bert and his friends.
|Page Count||175 pages|
|Publisher||Black Rose Writing|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|