Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis


Product Details

$22.95  $21.34
Arsenal Pulp Press
Publish Date
5.8 X 8.9 X 1.0 inches | 1.25 pounds

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About the Author

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore is the author of two nonfiction titles and three novels, and the editor of five nonfiction anthologies. Her latest book, The Freezer Door, was a New York Times Editors' Choice, one of Oprah Magazine's Best LGBTQ Books of 2020, and a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Award. Her memoir, The End of San Francisco, won a Lambda Literary Award, and her novel Sketchtasy was one of NPR's Best Books of 2018. Her anthology Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform was an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book.


"An exciting and important collection that reconvenes community and brings our hidden feelings and experiences of HIV again to light and to consciousness." --Sarah Schulman, author of Let the Record Show: A Political History of ACT UP New York, 1987-1993

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future is a must-read for this moment, yet another juncture where we face the collision of brutal inequality, right-wing resurgence, and pandemic. This book is deeply personal, moving, and evocative, and at the same time has an enormous amount to teach us about the political and social conditions that have produced the social meanings of AIDS and sex that have shaped our lives. --Dean Spade, author of Mutual Aid: Building Solidarity During This Crisis (and the Next)

I thought I knew everything about how the queer generation after mine was impacted by AIDS, but Sycamore's eye-opening anthology pierced my naive cockiness. I remember my life and sexual coming out before the AIDS crisis, but what if AIDS is all you've ever known? How did that define your queerness? Sycamore breaks open a dam of suppressed stories centered on stigma, from wildly diverse voices, pouring forth with startling honesty and resilience. --Peter Staley, author of Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism

Between Certain Death and a Possible Future is an essential contribution to AIDS literature because it invites the reader to wrestle with the unceasing impact of HIV beyond the 'crisis years, ' beyond heroic activism, into under-explored narrative terrain where effective medical treatments redefined the ongoing epidemic from certain death to something else we're still figuring out, damaged but resilient, in search of a possible future. --Tony Valenzuela, writer and former executive director of the Foundation for the AIDS Monument and Lambda Literary

We've grown up reading and seeing the stories of those who lived through the AIDS crisis--and those who didn't--but what of the generation in the middle that grew up in the immediate wake of AIDS but before the promise of PrEP. The generation that, as Lambda Award-winning writer Bernstein puts it, 'came of age in the midst of the epidemic with the belief that desire intrinsically led to death, internalizing this trauma as part of becoming queer?' Bernstein's necessary and thought-provoking anthology amasses dispatches from writers and activists who weathered the fallout. --Oprah Daily