stories by EMILY CARTER

Coffee House Press, $20.95

Review by Katherine Arnoldi

  If you ever for a minute think addiction is not a disease, read this book right now. If you ever for a minute think( and don't we writers do this more now than again) that writing is a waste of time, read this book right now. If you ever think your life is meaningless, read this book.



Right now.



Then watch what happens. Watch yourself, while riding on the train or walking across Tompkins Square Park having a little conversation in your mind with Glory B, the narrator of Glory Goes and Gets Some. Feel that you know her, that from here on out, she's with you. Feel that deep down wish under your chest that this book would have been here for your long lost late heroin addicted friend, the one so eclipsed by the disease that you could only see him on the fringes, shining out the edges of the huge black circle of the drug. Watch yourself wishing that Emily Carter had been here, that the two of them could have met, that maybe things could have been different if they did.


But things aren't different, My friend is dead. In fact, more than one friend is dead and Glory B., the character I have come to love is HIV Positive at age 27.



Glory B., though, despite what she says she wants, does not seem to be going gentle into any night. She starts out in "East on Houston" twitching down the street in a sea of Baby-this and Baby-that heading she says for nothing good "in a borrowed red dress that was as red as stoplights, the stoplights gleaming in the black air like costume jewelry from a sunken Spanish galleon, gleaming from the bottom of the sea: the night on Houston like a black tropical shipwreck ocean, fathoms deep and full of trinkets for a young girl like yours-ever-true."



And so begins my travels with Glory B.



Where we are going is down. We start on Park Avenue and head right on downtown to heroin addiction after getting primed on alcohol first in Portland, Oregon. In "Ask Amelio" Glory B says she gets a call from someone wanting to know about women with AIDS. Glory says don't ask me, I'm rich and have had all the privileges. Instead she says to ask Amelio, who probably is now upstate, who had no family, no friends, was not in the bosom of family and the "warm, firelit circle of privilege." Ask Amelio, who called her once from upstate most assuredly to tell her to get a test, if he could have got a word in edgewise. As it was Glory B. was busy, in the middle of getting kicked out on the street.



When Glory finally thuds flat smack down on her bottom, she does a miraculous thing: she asks for help and help comes in Minneapolis at the rehab center and within the recovery community. Now the question: how does a person with AIDS, a recovering addict, find love and work and meaning? Glory B. does. Glory B. does. I do not want to tell you how. I feel like I'd be giving away the end of a great movie. You got to find out for yourself.



This book is full of flat out, hard strokes of truth, the kind, you know, that users often throw out at you to cut your legs out from under you, to better knock you over, to get control, get one over. This is tough, brutal and endearing writing. When faced with her diagnosis, Glory B. says, "My T-count was low enough to qualify me as a PWA (stands for Person With Aids) which, while not quite as Glamourous and tragic as being a POW, had a shiny, grant-getting gleam about it."



I guess you could tell by the way we started out on this journey, at night in the red dress and all that, that this was going to be a sexy story, too. In "My Big Red Heart" Glory B is confronted with that irresistible of all sex objects, the guy who used his "last girlfriend's flesh in an upholstery experiment," the one whose eyes say "Help me with your breasts and hips and sweet, sweet pussy stronger than a thousand sacred vows of justice."



Spasms of undulating mellifluidity, that's Emily Carter.



And she's got heart, too. And love. Of her husband, she says, "So the strength I relied on was illusory, so what? It was still massive and permanent as a monument. The most beautiful back, the most beautiful cock, stone-solid, like the rest of him."



So now Emily Carter's voice is a part of me. Like the people I have loved that are with me, still and always, I feel myself talking with her, wondering what she would think of this or that concern of mine, this or that idea.



I wish there were more stories like "Ask Amelio," that question the horrible inequalities, the retched realities of living in an economic system in which some people think that they have more because they "deserve it" or that they "earned it" or that it was the "luck" of their birth, or just like "one of those things."



In truth, though, I am thankful for every story here, because Emily Carter, by telling of Glory B's disease, has filled me with love and concern, and you know how healing that is. I want to hold Glory B, cradle her, because, you know, when one of us is sick, we all suffer. By telling the story of Glory B's courage, I feel a little more courageous myself, and by making something out of nothing, by making art, and this is art, Emily Carter has made her world "shine like eyes filled with religion."