The Way We Live Now

Susan Sontag

BACKGROUND

Susan Sontag is a modern author. She wrote this story in the 80’s. This story is about someone dying of AIDS.

MAIN CHARACTERS

This story has too many damn characters to list. This is a weird story because there is only one main character. The main character is the guy dying of AIDS. But we never learn his name. All the other characters are all the rest of his friends. Some of the names are Max, Ellen, Greg, Tanya, Orson, Donny, Kate, Xavier, Lewis, Paolo, and Quentin (Quentin has the biggest part in the story. He moves in with his AIDS friend and helps him out.

PLOT

This is a story that basically follows the life of a man dying of AIDS. The book sounds like a big gossip column. There is no narrator; it is a 3rd person account of how all his friends are dealing with this illness. The whole story is just friends "gossiping" back and forth about how his condition is, and how the group of friends is.

The AIDS patient starts off in the hospital. All of his friends come to visit him. The story gets each person’s point of view on the situation. They talk about the sick guy and his condition. They also talk about how everyone is calling everyone to update each other in his condition. The sick dude is happy at first that everyone comes to visit. Then he kinda gets tired of the heavy traffic of people in his hospital room. The sick guy gets out of the hospital and his pal Quentin moves in with him to help him around the house. Then the friends all talk about how much each one has visited them and they all kinda compete against each other for the sick guy’s affection. They also talk about how the sick guy has stopped all the fighting between friends because they all have to come together because of the sick guy, and forget about their squabbles.

Then the story has all the friends still talking about his condition. The friends then talk about AIDS, and how some people in France are close to a cure. They are constantly trying to cheer up the sick guy and give him healthy living tips. His friend Quentin does the most for him, including persuading the sick guy’s mom from flying up from the south to visit her sick son. The friends bicker more about who visits the sick guy more. Then his health gets worse and the story ends.

THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART

  • I really urge you to read at least a paragraph of this story so you can understand the weird way it is written. Just so you understand how the story sounds when discussing in class.
  • This is a story about AIDS. But, the author never mentions the word AIDS once in the story. IT is kinda obvious though from the description of the sick guy (thin, sick, got the disease from sex)
  • The friends in this story look genuine at first, but they are really shallow. They say they go to visit the sick guy because they care about him. In reality they visit just to be considered a good friend of his.
  • IT ends up that each friend does nice things for the sick guy just to out-do the other friends.