LATER: MY LIFE AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, available at Bookshop.org
"[A] coastal elegy...ravishing in its precision and restraint...What's affecting here is Lisicky's preservation of a multitude of subtle, ambivalent feelings, of small kindnesses and cruelties. Nothing is simplified in a bid for universal resonance, and the text is richer for that. It bristles with pinprick observations....A huge variety of people and even animals are given consideration and respect, including those who appear on a few scattered pages. You're reminded that looking closely can be a form of love."
--Lidija Haas, Harper's
"The opening scene of Paul Lisicky's new memoir, Later, feels like the beginning notes of an aria. Lisicky gets into his car and rives away from his mother to the edge of the known world. The scene expands out like a song, about to spill into an aural ocean. The book's repeating images--boats, sand, beasts, borders, sex, death--become the chorus. Dense and layered, the book crests with the lyrical resonance while looking back at a young, queer life gripped in the talons of loss, on the rim of death.... Later is not only a chronicle of the AIDS crisis, though its pages are inevitably permitted by that tragedy. Lisicky deftly weaves a story of a young gay man both jaded and alive, acutely observing the people and landscape around him, taking his freedom and power and questioning what these even are. Later moves in vignettes inextricably bound to one another, crescendoing at the end with a scene that is less cerebral but pumping with symbolism. An aria is a long, accompanied solo song. Later is Lisicky's solo, but it depends on the accompaniment--friends and lovers, parents, ghosts, art, sea, rebellion, sex, queerness as ideality. Town itself."
--Sarah Nielson, The Washington Post
"Lisicky is a gifted writer. With meticulous emotional nuance, he not only captures his day-to-day, but manages to translate lessons from the day-to-day into a manual for living.... Later is beautifully composed and structured.... In Lisicky's mind 'every death will always be an AIDS death; everyone will always die before their time, whether they're twenty-one or ninety-one.' And that perhaps, is Later's greatest lesson. In the meantime, Lisicky wants to 'touch you while there's still time to touch you.'"
--Martha Anne Toll, NPR
"This memoir is much like his Provincetown, exulting in tenderness and lust, lit with flashes of poignant spectacle, even the majestic--the way a drag queen at night can become, in sequins under a spotlight, full of the fire and beauty we associate with goddesses, before descending back to the realm of the human."
--Alexander Chee, The Los Angeles Times
"Later takes us on a heart-wrenching journey.... Lisicky masterfully situates himself within [a queer history of the 80s and 90s], giving his readers a unique glimpse into his fear of getting tested, the Provincetown-specific frailty of human relationships in the face of contagion, and how death looms as would a shadow in the daily life of a meandering writer.... Readers see through the eyes of a visitor who becomes a local through his constant exposure to death and illness but also through the opening of his heart to the possibility of love and community in epidemiological time.... [Lisicky] seduces us, breaks our heart, and helps us put it back together.”
--Michael Valinsky, Los Angeles Review of Books
"A lyrical book of nonfiction both metaphysical and embodied, Later concerns itself contemplatively with the souls of humans and their mortal containers.... Lisicky writes lucidly with sorrow and joy of the complicated tension between transience and community in Provincetown at large and in the specifically queer milieu caught in the grip of the AIDS crisis, evoking the energy of people coming and going by choice and by fate, leaving sometimes for the mainland and sometimes for death.... Lisicky's sinuous sentences and tone of composure attest to the unsentimental but inspiring idea that even 'during the hour of a plague people from different backgrounds can be together. Not to dissolve that difference, but to love that difference."
--Kathleen Rooney, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Later: My Life at the Edge of the World intimately and extensively recounts the time [Lisicky] spent [in Provincetown] in the early 1990s, growing into his own, sexually and emotionally, in a community grappling with the AIDS epidemic."
--John Williams, The New York Times
"A vibrant, heart-bursting love letter to queer haven Provincetown, Massachusetts... But the terrain Lisicky also covers here is that of the human heart freed, momentarily, from terror."
--Michelle Hart, Oprah Magazine
"Part Lonely Planet guide, part ghost story, Paul Lisicky's latest memoir may well cement his status as queer king of the genre."
--Keely Weiss, Harper's Bazaar
"In Later, by paring everything down and grasping for the essence, [Paul Lisicky] manages to speak of longing and loss...amid a persistent search for beauty and connection. The dream of community is always a difficult one, especially for those on the margins of respectability, and yet it is this Lisicky conjures most effectively."
--Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, San Francisco Chronicle
"Deeply meditative... An intimate glimpse into daily life during an epidemic, a montage of faces lost or forever changed.... Later is the story of other bodies at other times when the possibility of the future was still only just that, a testament to the audacity of being ourselves and risking the danger and violence and murderous institutional discrimination that once necessarily accompanied our happiness, in spite of the odds stacked against us and the uncertainty that defined our very existence. And for that, it’s already timeless.”
--Richard Scott Larsen, Slant
"Electrifyingly visceral… Lisicky’s memoir is less a coming-of-age than a coming-to-terms, and he cleverly divides up the text into short meditations on sex, loneliness, ambition, heartbreak, and hope. Unblinkered honesty is part of the book’s appeal...But the book’s biggest achievement is Lisicky’s rare talent for soaring high with his prose without ever feeling he’s lost touch with the ground. There’s a lot of poetry going on these Provincetown musings, and a lot of love and pain."
--Christopher Bollen, Interview Magazine
"In keeping with his earlier lyrical and empathetic memoirs, Paul Lisicky chronicles his coming of age as an artist and queer man.... With deep sensitivity, love, and gravity, Lisicky finds connections both haunting and liberating in this tender and energetic book."
--Lauren LeBlanc, New York Observer
"Lisicky’s phrasings are beautiful — sometimes quippy and prophetic, and other times serpentine and complex. It’s the kind of book that warrants underline after underline, bound to result in more than one heart scribbled next to more than one paragraph…. Musical references are scattered throughout but not executed in overabundance. Joni Mitchell in particular comes up more than once; with her wail-cry of a voice that seems to mirror the wail-cry of Lisicky’s declarative style, one can see how music seamlessly informs the prose in Later."
--Alex Jimenez, The Daily Californian
"This is a book of yearning, of love and sorrow and wanting and, yes, hope: deeply vulnerable and attuned to the divine. To be read for historical context or simply for its stunning truth and beauty."
--Julia Kastner, Shelf Awareness
"Monumental.... With austere lyricism and resilient, innovative storytelling, he hones in on the qualities of being alive, afraid, sexual, and at times, joyous."
--Yvonne Conza, BOMB
"A love letter to a community facing a dire crisis, a timeless reminder to find ways to feel love, joy, and anger when hopelessness permeates from every surface."
--Greg Mania, Electric Lit
"At once intimate and expansive, Later is a vital exploration of queer life past, present, and future."
--Poets & Writers
"A ruminative guide to an exhilarating queer utopia."
"I am a HUGE fan of everything Paul Lisicky writes. This is a wonderful memoir about his life in Provincetown in the early 1990s.... He’s such a beautiful writer."
--Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
"Stunning.... If you’re looking for something relevant and relatable during your social distancing in the plague year we’re currently living through, I can’t recommend it highly enough."
"What Later provides is a tender, angry and probing account of how one man lived through a public-health crisis, and 'how we stay vital and invested in our routines and relationships....' The result is a fragmentary narrative written with the urgency of the present tense. Bursts of lucid memories, stray thoughts, emotions and conversations appear and vanish like buoys floating against a night sky."
--Mitchell Kuga, MEL Magazine
"Lisicky's beautifully self-aware memoir is most striking for its heartfelt prose brimming with yearning, nostalgia, satisfaction, lust, sadness, and the unbreakable solidarity of a seaside resort's year-round residents."
--Jim Piechota, The Bay Area Reporter
"Later...achingly captures a narrow window of time in a small community, the queer community of Provincetown, as it manages to remain joyful, vibrant and defiantly playful while reeling from the horrific impact AIDS had on its population.... From [a] generosity of spirit, Lisicky offers his journey into selfhood alongside his tribute to a community in crisis yet incredibly free. It’s sexy and profound in its candor.... The shock of mortality never escapes your reading of this memoir, but the beauty of survival is revealed through Lisicky’s ongoing pursuit of art and truth on and off the page."
--Lew Whittington, The New York Journal of Books
"To sum up the experience of reading Later with a metaphor, it would be like being held—vertically or horizontally, your choice. You feel the topography of someone, the smooth and coarse. You hear the thumping of their heart and you smell the scent of their body. You feel the comfort of their warmth and the pressure of their body against yours. It is the holding but also the eventual letting go. Later is telling how it was. Later is telling how it still is.”
--Alex Tunney, Lambda Literary
"It’s hard not to feel that this time is more fearful than most. How bracing, then, to read Paul Lisicky’s memoir Later: My Life at the Edge of the World. Lisicky considers the damage one suffers by living with fear as well as the grace displayed by those who endure it. . . . Among other things, Later is a wonderful portrait of a community formed in and through extremis.”
--Anthony Domestico, Commonweal
"He is at his fabulous poetic best when Town, as he calls it, is palpably near, when the geographic, spatial, cultural details both shape his desires and speak for them.... All of this place-ness is made personal in Lisicky’s hands, compounding and confusing, liberating and fencing, demanding and relenting.”
--Beth Kephart, LitHub
"Lisicky offers us a beautifully crafted and compelling description of life in Provincetown, Mass., at the height of the AIDS epidemic. His story will be of interest not only to those of us who lived through the epidemic...but to anyone who has experienced the rhythms of a resort community close to a major city.... Short, subtitled sections, each a paragraph, two or three at most, keep the reader engaged and evoke the author’s youthful energy and episodic quest to become a self-actualized adult.”
--Jonathan Silin, East Hampton Star
"Like any good love song, there is infatuation, disappointment, passion, heartbreak and ultimately, hope.... What winds up on the page is a combination of tenderness and primal urges, of the possibility of love despite the weekly deaths. It is about moving forward when there is no clear path.”
--Susan Harrison, Provincetown Banner
"Ghosts linger over Later. They are at times expressions of the anxiety around sex and the specter of HIV/AIDS. However, in Lisicky's vulnerable and necessary voice, they are also reminders to live."
--Bruce Owens Grimm, New City
"This memoir tracks a writer’s early years as a fellow at the Provincetown Arts Center and the challenges he faces with his work, family, friends and lovers, told as though he’s beside you, confessing what he was never able to put into words until now.... Through portraits of the Town, its residents, and the writer among them, Lisicky challenges us to feel pain for not only the afflicted, but for their loved ones as well."
--Patrick Dacey, Richmond Style Weekly
"Brutally honest... A candid, scorching memoir that emits tenderness and sweet sorrow."
"This heartfelt memoir will appeal to literary readers, and certainly those with ties to Provincetown and its gay community."
--David Azzolina, Library Journal
"...to Lisicky, Provincetown is the place that can give him things that his own hometown can’t provide: a sense of freedom, sexual and otherwise, that he had never experienced before…. A tale of belonging and discovery even amid the shadows of death."
--June Sawyers, Booklist
"It is about the past but it is also about now. It will teach you to be brave and also not to be afraid of your fear. It is an act of love and I have cherished reading it."
--Susan Choi, Winner of the National Book Award for Trust Exercise
"Later is a vital, dazzling memoir not just of a passage in one life, but of a place, a time, an ethos. Both telescopic and microscopic, this story challenges and illuminates--and, as only the best books do, leaves the reader fundamentally transformed."
--Rebecca Makkai, Pulitzer Prize finalist for The Great Believers
"With searing, sexy candor and heartrending tenderness, Paul Lisicky chronicles the grace of finding, after a youth of displacement, a haven where he wholeheartedly belongs; and chronicles too the grief of seeing that haven devastated by AIDS. The ferocity I most admire in art is achieved through utter vulnerability, a willingness to sit aside all one's defenses. Later is a ferocious book."
--Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
"This is such a sexy funny sad book. And intimate too. Paul makes you feel like the lucky best friend whose been allowed to read his diary. I tore through its pages quickly almost guiltily. His world pulses and puckers and threatens to shut. Was it all a dream. No it's absolutely true. Later in its casual and exacting way lifts the curtain briefly and lovingly on the life of a specific gay man at a very specific time in a very specific place and Paul Lisicky's energized and deeply frank prose makes living (as he shows it) feel like a bit of a miracle."
--Eileen Myles, author of Afterglow (a dog memoir)
"Later is a remembrance of a very queer place at a very queer time, when the space between youth and illness collapsed, and yet, simultaneously, a community flourished. Lisicky returns us to the art-making and joy; the dancing in and through sorrow; the sex; and the potential, both squandered and realized, of finding oneself at the end of the world."
--Justin Torres, author of We the Animals
Praise for The Narrow Door, Graywolf Press, 2016:
"[The Narrow Door] is very beautiful... Lisicky has a gift for understanding suffering, an added bundle of receptors for understanding loneliness.... [Gess] glows on the page, looking for all the world like a woman who's swallowed the moon."
--Jennifer Senior, The New York Times
"You know you're reading an exceptional book when, approximately two sentences into it, you start panicking at the thought of its ending. Be forewarned: This is likely to happen to you, as it did to me, reading the opening pages of The Narrow Door, the achingly gorgeous, wildly ambitious memoir by Paul Lisicky."
--Meredith Maran, The Chicago Tribune
"It's this frank sincerity and book's bold form that place The Narrow Door beside some of the more daring and exciting writers of the last few years."
--Nathan Deuel, The Los Angeles Times
"A rare look into the friendships writers form with the people they may end up competing with for the same posts, publishers and prizes--and an even rarer look into the life of a significant writer who lived with and loved another significant writer for 15 years....An elegy, an apologia and a triumph."
--Alexander Chee, The Sunday New York Times Book Review
"The most moving account of love among artists I've ever read. The Narrow Door is astonishing."
"When I finished The Narrow Door, I felt not only like a fortunate witness to a beautiful elegy, but personally engaged in ways I'm sure the author never intended. There's a certain type of alchemy at work when the right book comes along at the right time, when our minds as readers turn especially porous to certain ideas and experiences such that the book resonates far beyond the page."
--Pasha Malla, The Toronto Globe and Mail
"By turns raw, wry, and meditative, Lisicky offers a painfully honest accounting of his own failures and limitations; ultimately, this is the story of how a heart opens, and the endless, literally death-defying work of keeping it that way."
--Kate Tuttle, The Boston Globe
"Stunningly done... Lisicky's style relies less on extravagant language than on extravagant techné: a maximal use of complexity. Even putting aside all the echoes and tropes, his sentences contain unusually nuanced shades of thought and meaning."
--Katy Waldman, Slate
"By the time I finished the first chapter of Paul Lisicky's new lyrical memoir, I was certain this was an essential book.....Love explodes from these [pages]. To say it any other way would be inefficient."
--Peter Geye, The Minneapolis Star Tribune
"[The Narrow Door] floored me. A meditation on love, friendship, writing, just all kinds of powerful thoughts and ideas come shining through. It's a memoir, yes, but something bigger than that. Lisicky tells the story of another person, but his experiences surrounding that person. It's just an incredibly beautiful book."
--Jason Diamond, Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Paul Lisicky's memoir of friendship and grief is a gem of a book--beautiful, lyrical, and full of warmth and light.... Told in interweaving timelines, intercut with Lisicky's internet wanderings through news of natural disaster and ecological crisis, this is a stunningly hopeful book, full of empathy and sensitivity, with sentences that will sing in your ears for days."
--Google Play, Top 20 Books of 2016
"An intimate and emotionally charged memoir."
--Gregg Shapiro, The Miami Herald
"[Paul Lisicky] believes in fearlessly writing in the moment. In doing so, he captures the daily friction between moments of pleasure and challenge. The immediacy of his work allows for joy as well as gravity."
--Lauren LeBlanc, Guernica
"Lisicky manages to craft a dynamic, anachronistic portrait of an artist (himself) who is transformed with each shifting thought, roles morphing and reversed depending on which conversation is at hand.... There is an awareness that understanding is an active practice, that each new epiphany demands a follow-up.... But alchemy is no substitute for understanding, and The Narrow Door is all the better for Lisicky's having avoided it."
--Shane Barnes, Flavorwire
--"[The Narrow Door] has accomplished something new.... well-written, in the artistic sense...in the way that's too rare in American nonfiction now."
--Emmett Rensin, Vox
"The friendship Lisicky conjures is a relationship in the fullest sense--intoxicating, brutal, draining and sustaining.... The Narrow Door is meticulous in its description of grief and loss, and never shies from the full complexity and range of emotion in Lisicky's relationship with Gess."
--Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, The San Francisco Chronicle
"Bravely honest...brimming with compassion and tenderness."
--BuzzFeed, The 27 Most Exciting Books of 2016
"Beautiful, wrenching... Lisicky is an established, magnificent poet, and he uses his talent for saying so much with just a few perfect words to recount scenarios of his life as he weaves back and forth between the two different losses. Have your bae on speed dial for when you finish it."
--Liberty Hardy, Book Riot
"Sure, I cried, and often. But more, The Narrow Door made me want to call a few people, and say the magic words, and feel at home in the world. It's hard to think of a book that can give you more than that."
--Jesse Kornbluth, headbutler.com
"[The Narrow Door] is smart, deeply moving, exquisitely written, and made of that open-eyed, open-hearted seeking that characterizes the very best of narrative nonfiction."
--Vincent Scarpa, Electric Literature
"I think most of us like to put off the ends of things, especially things we love.... That's how I felt reading Paul Lisicky's memoir The Narrow Door....I wanted to keep the book at the diner a few minutes more."
--Anisse Gross, The Rumpus
"Lisicky's portrayal of Denise Gess reveals her charisma, her remarkable insight, and her wit, without censoring her insecurity or her possessiveness.... [The Narrow Door] brims with insight, showcasing [Lisicky's] talent for inquiry into the everyday."
--Joselyn Takacs, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Lisicky does atmosphere and sensation so beautifully that the act of compassion in the face of loss brightens into a kind of unexpected light."
--Lia Purpura, Drunken Boat
"Nearly every page...seems wrenched from a writer who feels the anxiety of art, who struggles toward that blissful center of creation.... In The Narrow Door, love and friendship ultimately trump self-centered ambition."
--Nick Ripatrazone, Commonweal
"In The Narrow Door, Paul Lisicky splays himself open to give us the tragic loss--and wonderful life--of his friend Denise, which is told in tandem with the unraveling relationship with his husband. This is Lisicky's best, bravest, and wisest work."
--Kevin Catalano, The Coil
"An honest and fierce examination of the ways that platonic and romantic loves inform one another -- and how their losses devastate in equal measure."
--The Millions, Great 2016 Nonfiction Book Preview Pick
"A fascinating memoir of Lisicky's mind at work as he processes catastrophes--global and emotional--and tries to claim new ways to hope."
--Jen Michalski, The Washington Independent Review of Books
"[The Narrow Door] is a tender and beautiful book of compassion and resilience, written with deep insight into the human soul and the sensitivity of a poet."
--Claire Handscombe, Washington Life
"One of my favorite books of 2016 so far. A precise, poetic, honest retelling of what it's like to lose a best friend to unbeatable terminal illness and a partner to irreconcilable differences, but also, so much more."
--Leilani Clark, KQED Arts
"Lisicky puts into words something quietly revolutionary.... Throughout The Narrow Door, Lisicky's voice carries a sense of keen, compassionate observation."
--Megan Burbank, The Portland Mercury
"The structure of [The Narrow Door] as a rearranged and re-emphasized chronology feels musical and even at times magically attuned to the rhythms of life.... Through warmth, humor, and even through the striving of Mr. Lisicky's narrative voice, the reader becomes allied with him."
--Evan Harris, The East Hampton Star
"A deeply moving and bravely honest memoir about friendship among writers." --West Coast Live
"A truly gifted writer can do his own thing and strike a common nerve within us all. In this sense The Narrow Door is exquisitely wide open."
--Elizabeth Licorish, PhillyVoice
"There's sunlight, taking an unknowable form, after all this. To reach it, how he must pass through the narrow door, is to deal with his losses while remaining whole. This book is a clear and unwavering 'Hello' from the other side."
--Alex J. Tunney, Lambda Literary
"There is nothing that Paul Lisicky writes that I don't want to read, and re-read, and give to friends, and put in Little Free Libraries for everyone else to read. [The Narrow Door], a memoir of a friendship and love and loss and beauty and the richness of life, is no exception."
--Anna March, The Rumpus
"The Narrow Door is among the highest forms of self-expression possible: through this book Paul Lisicky is able to give us his account of being human. It is a gift he gives to the memory of Denise, and of course, it is a gift he gives to the reader."
--Kelly Dwyer, kellydwyerauthor.com
"A devastating, and devastatingly beautiful, look at the two treasured friendships of [Lisicky's] life."
--Beth Kephart, bethkephart.com
"Deeply personal and sometimes painful... A thoughtful examination of love, loss, and friendship that refuses to simplify difficult subjects."
--Ray Simon, Philadelphia Gay News
"This portrait of a friend in all her complexities is lyrical, intellectual and occasionally challenging. In an austere mood, Lisicky avoids the idea of comfort for its own sake but asks, 'Couldn't there be some rigor to comfort?' The Narrow Door answers with both, in a compelling package."
--Julia Jenkins, Shelf Awareness (Starred Review)
"[Paul Lisicky] is glorious in his understanding of his own feelings and, by extension, the human heart."
--Dana Norris, The Washington Independent Review of Books
"Breathtaking and heartbreaking."
"Lisicky realized a painful truth. The closer he got to people, the more he had to realize their freedom to die and/or leave him. With empathy and emotional finesse, the author renders the fragility of interpersonal connections, and he offers insight into the complicated nature of the human heart. Honest and compassionate."
"I love this book so much that I found myself slowing to a crawl as I reached the end, not wanting to part ways quite yet. This is a portrait of a friendship unlike any I've read. In embracing the fluidity of relationships--platonic and romantic, real life and idolatrous, even human and canine--it reminds us that true connection can be as fleeting and precious as true solitude. There is a unique honesty in that revelation, and also a great if surprising comfort."
—Meghan Daum, author of The Unspeakable
"Relentlessly self-revealing, achingly tender in the way he holds his loved ones in the world, Paul Lisicky has written a memoir as raw as Jeff Tweedy fresh from rehab, and just like a Wilco album, packed with tracks so elegant in their bewilderment and sorrow, you'll want to revisit them again and again. This book charmed me, moved me, upended me, indicted me, compelled me, wrecked me, made me want to say the big YES, made me want to be better than I am."
—Pam Houston, author of Contents May Have Shifted
"The Narrow Door is a book about a long friendship, which means it's a book about everything in life: love, hope, longing, death, fallings-out, reconciliation, art, dumb jokes, deep loss. In The Narrow Door, Paul Lisicky proves, again, that he's one of our finest writers on the intricacies of the human heart. Like all of Lisicky's work, it's beautiful and brilliant."
—Elizabeth McCracken, author of Thunderstruck
"Paul Lisicky's The Narrow Door circumvents the often inscrutable forces that bring us in and out of each other's lives and hearts, while paying welcome homage to the oft-unsung role of friendship in them. While Lisicky bears witness to "the hell of wanting [that] has no cure," his ship always feels buoyant, by virtue of a narrator whose attentiveness to feelings both big and small is marked throughout by honesty and devotion."
—Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
"Intelligent and intimate, fierce and tender, real and raw, Paul Lisicky's The Narrow Door is an unforgettable memoir about love and loss, friendship and forgiveness. It had me in its thrall from page one."
—Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild
"A beautiful, funny, devastating book about love, friendship, and loss that manages to be simultaneously timeless and keenly attuned to our precarious moment. Few things I've read so perfectly capture both the communion and competitiveness of writers' friendships. The Narrow Door is a miracle of personal narrative, observation, and feeling."
—Peter Trachtenberg, author of Another Insane Devotion