King, Jeremy Jordan. “Night Creatures”, Bold Strokes Books, 2013.
Set in New York in 1981, we meet Bryant whose recent move there was to be a new beginning. However, all the men that he meets seem to be threatened by a strange and mysterious illness. He wonders if transitioning into a night creature might be what will save him from death. For those of you remember, the 1980s were a dark time for the gay community.
The next we know, Bryant has become a vampire. After meeting a guy at a bathhouse, he gets sick and since this was the heyday of AIDS, Bryant was very worried. At first he thought it was the flu but when his boyfriend and others die, Bryant realizes that it was much worse. Somehow, Bryant was not affected. Suddenly, Jonathan, the guy that Bryant had met at the bathhouse and he is a guy with eternal life and Bryant joins him and learns to become adjusted to a new life. He also becomes an AIDS activist.
I am glad that AIDS is again part of our literature—we should never allow ourselves to forget how much it cost us in lives. I was reminded of the beginning of the epidemic when doctors had no idea what they were dealing with and the death toll grew daily. At first we do not realize the allegory of the AIDS crisis. This is much like it was with the disease; no one knew what was going on. Now that we know so much more, reading this book is a reminder of a period in time that we never want to repeat. I have an eerie feeling that AIDS is being forgotten or just not talked about. Here is a simple and entertaining way to learn about HIV/AIDS and what it meant to individuals and to the LGBT movement. It is so different today as it once was and there are ways to live with the disease.