One of my goals this summer is to read more books (at least 5-10 in total). Days are getting much longer, which means I get extra time to spend outdoors. With all of these new books I got over the past few months, I figured it’s the perfect time to do some summer reading. It is also a good time to discuss my summer reading titles for the blog.
First up on the summer reading list involves a timeless play that takess place during the 1980s AIDS crisis when the disease was rampant all across the country. During these rough times, many gay characters turned on each other due to various personal conflicts among each other. This is the story of Angels in America.
Angels in America is a two-part gay fantasia series written by Tony Kushner. Roy Cohn is a successful New York lawyer and power broker. He is a deeply closeted gay man who has AIDS. Through his political connections, he is able to score some supply of an experimental drug called AZT. Alone in a hospital, he is constantly judged by his night nurse Belize (friend of Prior’s and former drag queen) and the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg.
In the meantime, Joseph Pitt is a closeted gay Mormon and republic who is offered a job in Washington D.C. by Roy Cohn. Joe hesitates about accepting the job due to his agoraphobic wife Harper who refuses to move. Harper starts suspecting that Joe does not love her as she loves him. It is then that Joe confesses to her that he is gay.
After his confession, Joe hooks up with Louis Ironson. Louis’s boyfriend, Prior Walters, contracted AIDS. While Prior’s illness progresses, Louis moves out and abandons Prior altogether. Prior is then visited by a pair of ghosts who claim to be his own ancestors and hears this angelic voice informing him to prepare for her arrival.
The first part of Angels in America is titled ‘Millennium Approaches’ and premiered in May 1991; meanwhile, the second part ‘Perestroika’ premiered in November 1992. These two parts happen in a span of almost five years. It’s a metaphorical and symbolical examination of AIDS and homosexuality in America during the 1980s. Many characters are supernatural beings (such as angels) while others become deceased persons (who are the ghosts).
Years after the play was released, Angels in America was made into an HBO series back in December 7th 2003. The miniseries starred Al Pacino as Roy Cohn with supporting actors including Meryl Streep, Patrick Wilson, Mary-Louise Parker, Emma Thompson, Justin Kirk, Jeffrey Wright, and others. There are six episodes that span within a total of 352 minutes. It makes for a great miniseries that stems from the play.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading Angels in America. It was definitely intense to read and I really connected with the characters throughout. I really enjoyed the symbolism and metaphors surrounding the whole AIDS crisis. There were times where the story line had some bizarre scenes in the mix, but I understood what was happening either way.
This play was a great start to my summer reading list. There were AIDS, homosexuality, heartbreaks, new friendships, and even betrayal all rolled up into one incredible story. You should definitely pick up Angels in America this summer if you want a riveting tale that involves one of the most notorious health PR nightmares in American history.
Check out Angels in America this summer.