Melanie Brooks presents "A Hard Silence" with Andre Dubus 111
A simply superb memoir of growing up in the shadows of the secrecy surrounding Aids in the 80's, Melanie Brooks shares her heartbreaking journey in A Hard Silence, One Daughter Remaps Family, Grief, and Faith When HIV/AIDS Changes It All.
Andre Dubus 111, author of Townie and House of Sand & Fog and his most recent novel, Such Kindness, will join Melanie this evening to discuss her work. Of her work, Andre has said, "Brooks is that rare writer who can delve as deeply into the world of ideas as she can the pitted terrain of the human heart."
In the mid 1980s, Canada's catastrophic mismanagement of the country's blood supply allowed contaminated blood to be knowingly distributed nationwide, infecting close to two thousand Canadians with HIV. Among them was Melanie Brooks's surgeon father who, after receiving a blood transfusion during open-heart surgery in 1985, learned he was HIV positive.
At a time when HIV/AIDS was widely misunderstood and public perception was shaped by fear, prejudice, and homophobia, victims of the disease faced ostracism and persecution. Afraid of this stigma and wanting to protect his family, Melanie's father decided his illness would be a secret. A secret they'd all have to keep. They did not know that her father would live past that first year, but he did. And for ten years before his death in 1995, from the time she was thirteen until she was twenty-three, Melanie's family lived in the shadow of AIDS. She carried the weight of the uncertain trajectory of her father's health and the heartbreaking anticipation of impending loss silently and alone. This is her story and her reckoning of the cost of lies and secrecy .
The reviews have been amazing: "This beautifully rendered memoir asks important questions about the complexities of loss and grief, the roots of stigma and shame, and the courage necessary to endure that resonate in this new and unfortunate age of social exclusion." Richard Blanco, author of The Prince of los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood "A profound and riveting journey through shame and grief, A Hard Silence is, quite simply, unforgettable." Monica Wood, author of When We Were the Kennedys "Fills me with a sense of urgency, gratitude, and awe." Abigail Thomas, author of Still Life: The Next Interesting Thing
Melanie lives in Nashua, New Hampshire, and teaches creative nonfiction in the MFA program at Bay Path University in Longmeadow, Massachusetts, and professional writing at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts. She is also the author of Writing Hard Stories: Celebrated Memoirists Who Shaped Art from Trauma.