Today I finished reading the first section of The Immortalist. The whirlwind life of Simon Gold the youngest of the Gold siblings fated to die young. The beautiful ones always do… or at least I’ve heard that somewhere before.
If you’ve picked up the book then you know it’s about four siblings who’ve had there fortunes told and live with the knowledge of the day they die. Though Varya is the one who seems concerned about dying young. It is actually Simon who gets such a tragic fate.
Immediately I wondered how each of them would go. The inside flap foreshadowing each journey.
Golden boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco.
It’s either my writer brain or my reader brain. Perhaps it’s even Benjamin leaving bread crumbs for the reader but I guessed Simon’s fate from the moment they decided on San Francisco.
Simon is a young homosexual runaway living in the the Castro neighborhood of San Fran in the ’80s. Amidst the disco, drugs and multiple sex partner swapping. Simon is living the stereotypical gay experience and there’s only one thing that can stop his show.
The Gay Cancer…
I’m not sure what I expected. Even though I’d guessed how the final chapters of Simon’s life would end. I’d always imagined him to have been unhappy on drugs or a prostitute. Instead, Simon was able to build a real life for himself. His job as go-go dancer at gay night club led him down a path of professional ballet dancing. He excelled and thrived and even found love with Robert, an equally talented black man.
Things seemed as though they were going perfectly yet, Simon felt the need to give in to his most base urges… in the end it claimed his life.
My only frustration was how they described the AIDS virus. It was continually referenced to as the “Gay Cancer” as if no one knee what HIV was in the 80s?
Apparently because they didn’t…
According to NPR and commentator Joe Wright, during 1981 and most of 1982, AIDS wasn’t called AIDS and no one knew what caused it.
What they did know was one of the first and most visible signs of the new disease was Kaposi’s Sarcoma, KS, creating purplish tumors that showed up on the skin.
The first people reportedly diagnosed with the unknown disease were gay men, so people started calling the disease Gay Cancer.
Understanding of course that the phrase was inaccurate. Researchers found heterosexual adults and young children with the same symptoms. Research determined the underlying problem was actually immune deficiency. Still the phrasing stuck with the media and the gay community until the later part of 1982.
Simon’s star burned bright but by 1982 the youngest Gold’s light had gone out. This at least frees Klara, who’s been working on her death defying stunts. The same exact one that killed their grandmother.
Have You Been Reading Along?
What Did You Think Of the Brief Life of Simon?