Hot Reads: Sean Strub’s “Body Counts”

Sean Strub promises “a memoir of politics, sex, AIDS and survival” and overdelivers with Body Counts. This captivating new book from the POZ magazine founder grabs your attention with stories of Strub’s college years in D.C., of standing on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic and all the sex, heartache and growth along the way.

And it’s a powerful read. “Certain that if I am to die of AIDS,” Strub promises early in the book, “I will die a fighter, not a victim.” But unlike many previous works in the genre, Body Counts doesn’t get too weighed down in sadness.

Instead, Strub manages to keep this memoir as interesting as it is entertaining. The cast of characters—from congressional aides and lobbyists to famous activists—add great depth and flavor to anecdotes that seem familiar—a closeted teen from a religious family trying to find his own identity, the rush to grow up and run with a fast crowd to make up for lost time, first loves and first heartbreaks. It’s all within the 400-plus pages of beautifully told story (plus a healthy dose of politico gossip and hypocrisy highlighting).

But at its roots, Body Counts has soul. A deep, thriving, powerful soul that readers will feel. The Sean we meet at the beginning of the book, a young man obsessed with gaining entry to the political world, is not who we’ve come to know by the end, when his country and its political system turn on him in the face of illness and fear. But the road he travels is compelling, honest and at times hard to shake.

Body Counts is much more than a memoir. Strub gives us an insider’s view of the nascent gay rights movement and its place in the public consciousness, not to mention an unfortunately close perspective on the early days of the AIDS epidemic. It’s a vivid look at how far our community has come and the work that is still to be done.

 

NOW WIN THIS! Want to get a copy of Body Counts? Well, consider this a belated holiday gift and call us sexy Santa! Drop us an e-mail at swagsuite@instinctmag.com with the name of the title in the subject line, and then tell us what other books you’re most looking forward to in 2014. A handful of lucky winners will get their very own copy of this great title.