Immortal for Quite Some Time
Autobiography and Memoir
“This is not a memoir. Rather, this is a fraternal meditation on the question 'Are we friends, my brother?’ The story is uncertain, the characters are in flux, the voices are plural, the photographs are as troubled as the prose. This is not a memoir.”
Thus Scott Abbott introduces the reader to his exploration of the life of his brother John, a man who died of AIDS in 1991 at the age of forty. Writing about his brother, he finds he is writing about himself and about the warm-hearted, educated, and homophobic LDS family that forged the core of his identity.
Images and quotations are interwoven with the reflections, as is a critical female voice that questions his assertions and ridicules his rhetoric. The book moves from the starkness of a morgue’s autopsy through familial disintegration and adult defiance to a culminating fraternal conversation. This exquisitely written work will challenge notions of resolution and wholeness.
Winner of the book manuscript prize in creative nonfiction in the Utah Arts Council’s Original Writing Competition.
Scott Abbott is professor of humanities, philosophy, and integrated studies at Utah Valley University.
Table of Contents:
2. Incalculable Territory
—John’s Green and Tan Notebook #1
3. I Try to Be Myself...as Well as
—John’s Yellow Notebook #1
4. Variations on Desire
—John’s Blue Notebook
5. Horror Vacui
—John’s Green and Tan Notebook #2
6. Our Feet Are the Same
—John’s Blue and Tan Notebook
7. Denouncing the Xenophobic Country I Still Love
—John’s Yellow Notebook #2
8. Home Again
Praise and Reviews:
“Thank you, Scott Abbott, for doing the work that must be done, for being brave and loving and true—to the memory of your brother, to the quietly terrible realities of Mormon family life, to the brokenness of Mormon masculinity and its beauties as well. This book opens the door to a long overdue conversation about the suffering men in our community bear without speaking. I will give this book to the men I love and admire.”
—Joanna Brooks, author of Book of Mormon Girl and coauthor of Saving Alex
“In the search to understand his brother, Abbott begins his own meditations on family, religion, politics, sexuality, betrayal, and the things we carry. It is brave and honest writing.”
—Jeff Metcalf, author of Requiem for the Living: A Memoir
“Searching and unsentimental, this memoir and memorial (re)creates a brotherhood, making sense of a life that is past and meaning for a life still to be lived. In re-membering his brother's life—literally putting it back together from scraps of paper and photographs and fragments of memory and story—Abbott reorders his own life, too, making new connections between past and present, living and dead. The result is a luminous testament to both the power and the pain of brotherly love.”
—Kristine Haglund, former editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought
“This is not a book. This is a work in the making for quite some time (a little over 25 years). It is the nature of such work to extend itself directly into its maker. Indeed, from the moment Scott saw the remains of his brother, John, he could not get him out of memory. As Scott packed away John’s worldly remains, each object became a trigger setting off images, sounds, and smells that guide and open a way for Scott to move forward. And so, this work came slowly, painfully to surface. Throughout, John’s presence never ceases to disturb, distress, and enlarge Scott’s own life. And Scott Abbott being a writer, what could he do with all this? He writes. And finally, he builds a place for John to come home to. This is not a book."
—Alex Caldiero, author of Some Love, sonosuono, Poetry Is Wanted Here, and other books of poetry
“Scott Abbott has written a unique and amazing book. By turns wrenching, hilarious, deliberative, poetic, and outraged, Immortal For Quite Some Time is a narrative meditation about brotherly love, religion, sexuality, and freedom. Anyone who cares about any of those topics (in other words, I hope, everybody) should read it.”
—Martha C. Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics, Law School and Philosophy Department, University of Chicago