Edwards-Stout, Kergan. “Never Turn Your Back on the Tide: (Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic Wannabe Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell)”, Circumspect Press, 2020.
The Ideal Life or So He Thought
As a writer shares his life during the AIDS crisis, Kergan Edwards-Stout also writes about his husband’s double life in this memoir, “Never Turn Your Back on the Tide: (Or, How I Married a Lying, Psychopathic Wannabe Murderer and Kinda Lived to Tell”. It is just the book I needed to get me through the dark days we are going through.
As Edwards-Stout reads his “civil-union” husband’s (aka Eyes) email in 2001, he learns that he was about to be left for someone else. Then we move in a different direction. We read of the author’s growing up in Southern California as a gay man in the 1970s and hoping to find a career as an actor. He writes of the people he met including Loni Anderson, Jennifer Beals, and Darren McGavin, Mariska Hargitay and Jack Black. Becoming an activist, he worked for AIDS Project Los Angeles as the epidemic raged. He took care of his lover Shane while he died from the disease in 1995 and these words are hard to read with dry eyes. The writing here is sensitive and poignant and beautiful. It does not take long before the mood shifts again to some of the funniest writing I have read in a long time in whch Edwards-Stout shares what he learned on his journey through life thus far. We read about Eyes and what was going on with him.
He was having affairs and lying about his health. What we have really are two different novels in the same book. I thought I would be reading about a no-count liar; a psychopath so I was surprised to be part of the emotional roller-coaster of remembering what we suffered during AIDS.
Most of us who lived through the epidemic had experiences with dealing with someone who was dying and I firmly believe that this is something that we should not be allowed to forget. (Neither do I want to forget the way this memoir reminds us of that terrible time. It is part of who we are today).
While accepting his sexuality was easy for Edwards-Stout, it was his time in Hollywood that really made him awareof the intolerance toward gay people. He saw his gay friends die of AIDS and especially felt the pain of losing Shane. The care for Shane was beautiful but unfortunately, it was not replicated in his relationship with Eyes and it took him a long time to realize that his relationship was, to say the least, one-sided.
The two men adopted a son yet even with the happiness that a child could bring, his years with Eyes and afterwards were filled with distrust and heartbreak. He became the father to another adopted son and we see what a wonderful and caring father that he is.
I doubt that I can put down on paper how much this book means to me. I laughed, I cried, I cursed and I beamed as I read. Edwards-Stout has developed a beautiful style that was becoming evident in his previous books but that now completely took me to a new place. I am so glad that, of late, we are getting more gay memoirs since it is so important to remember from where we came in order to reach where we are today. There is gorgeous sincerity here. By bringing together the horrors of AIDS with the suffering on an untrustworthy husband, we really get to know the writer and want to give him the biggest hug possible.