"Sullivan offers [a] profound, often beautiful appreciation of friendship. . . . [He can] fascinate us with the range and depth of his mind."–San Francisco Chronicle
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
"One of the great pleasures of this book lies in watching Sullivan’s mind at work . . . [his essays] are filled with a passion and heat that most cultural criticism lacks." –Katie Roiphe, The Washington Post
When former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan publicly revealed his HIV positive status in 1996, he intended "to be among the first generation that survives this disease." In this new book, a powerful meditation on the spiritual effect AIDS has on friendship, love, sexuality, and American culture, we follow Sullivan on his path to survival.
A practicing Catholic, Sullivan reflects on his faith in God, and expresses his bittersweet joy upon learning about new AIDS treatments that he believes led to the virus’s recent transformation from a plague into a chronic illness. He revisits Freud to seek the origins of homosexuality and reviews the works of Aristotle, St. Augustine, and W. H. Auden to define friendship for a contemporary, post-plague world. Sullivan’s last essay extols the virtues of friendship, elevating platonic love over the romantic, as he memorializes his best friend, who died of AIDS. Intensely personal and passionately political, Sullivan’s essays are not just about his own experiences but also a powerful testament to human resilience, faith, hope, and love.
"Sullivan has found meaning in chaos. . . . With its paradoxical sense of beauty amid pain, Love Undetectable has something of the quality of a war memoir." –The New York Times Book Review
"On display here are all of the author’s many strengths–compelling, poetic prose style, some keen observations on faith. . . . Sullivan offers a moving defense of the open gay male urban sexual culture and his participation in it." –The Boston Globe
About Love Undetectable
"I intend to be among the first generation that survives this disease." That was former New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan’s first public statement about his HIV diagnosis. Speaking to heterosexual and homosexual audiences alike, this book is about the first steps in that journey of survival.
If Sullivan’s acclaimed first book, Virtually Normal, was about politics, this long-awaited sequel is about life. In a memoir in the form of three essays, Sullivan asks hard questions about his own life and others’. Can the practice of friendship ever compensate for a life without love? Is sex at war or at peace with spirituality? Can faith endure the randomness of death? Is homosexuality genetic or environmental?
Love Undetectable, then, refers to many things: to a virus that, for many, has become "undetectable" in the bloodstream thanks to new drugs, and to the failed search for love and intimacy that helped spread it; to the love of God, which in times of plague seems particularly hard to find and understand; to a sexual orientation long pathologized and denied any status as an equal form of human love; and to the love between friends, a love ignored when it isn’t demeaned, and obscured by the more useful imperatives of family and society.
In a work destined to be as controversial as his first book, Sullivan takes on religious authorities and gay activists; talks candidly about his own promiscuity and search for love; revisits Freud in the origins of homosexuality; and makes one of the more memorable modern cases for elevating the virtue of friendship over the satisfactions of love. Scholarly, impassioned, wide-ranging, and embattled, Love Undetectable is a book that is ultimately not about homosexuality or plague, but about humanity and mortality.
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"He wants to see same-sex love fully accepted as a dignified form of human relations… This book can only help the cause" -Andrew Delbanco, The New York Times Book Review
"On display here are all of the author’s many strengths–a compelling, poetic prose style, some keen observations on faith, an evocative retelling of his friendship with a man felled by AIDS" –Liz Galst, Boston Globe
"Love Undetectable proves that Sullivan has a voice and a heart that can reach across the borders of experience and politics" –Michael Bronski, Amazon.com