No-Accounts: How the Novel Came to Be (6)

Suspense—trying to figure out how the story will end—is not a tool I use often in my fiction. The reader usually knows what will happen at the end. That’s true of Last of the Annamese (the reader knows Saigon will fall), and it’s equally true of No-Accounts (the reader knows that Peter will die). Indeed, the first line of the novel is, “Dying wouldn’t be so awful if he could find Johnny’s mother.”

As noted earlier in this blog, I don’t write to entertain; like all authors of literary fiction, I write to instruct. That goal can be achieved so long as I create beauty along the way.

One of the reasons I wrote No-Accounts was to let people know how ghastly death from AIDS is. And I wanted readers to understand the courage of the buddies I worked with who faced death after grisly death and yet kept going. They were willing to risk their own lives to help their brothers die. These men, all gay, belied the gay stereotype of the weak and effeminate male. They were strong, dedicated, and courageous.

Another purpose in telling the story of Peter and Martin was to show that some things in life are more important that staying alive. Both men grow from facing death. Both become men in the most positive and heroic sense of the word.

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