Hospital Time

Hospital Time

Book Pages: 168 Illustrations: Published: March 1997

Author: Amy Hoffman

Contributor: Urvashi Vaid

Gender and Sexuality > LGBTQ Studies, General Interest > Biography, Letters, Memoirs

Hospital Time is a memoir about friendship, family, and caregiving in the age of AIDS. Amy Hoffman, a writer, lesbian activist, and former editor of Gay Community News, chronicles with fury and unflinching honesty her experience serving as primary caretaker for her friend and colleague, Mike Riegle, who died from AIDS-related complications in 1992. Hoffman neither idealizes nor deifies Riegle, whom she portrays as a brilliant man, devoted prison rights activist, and very difficult friend.
Hoffman became central to Riegle’s caregiving when he asked her to be his health-care proxy, and although she willingly chose to do this, she explores her conflicting feelings about herself in this role and about her involvement with Riegle and his grueling struggle with hospitalization, illness, and, finally, death. She tells of the waves of grief that echoed throughout her life, awakening memories of other losses, entering her dreams and fantasies, and altering her relationships with friends, family, and even total strangers.
Hoffman’s memoir gives voice to the psychological and emotional havoc AIDS creates for those in the difficult role of caring for the terminally ill and it gives recognition to the role that lesbians continue to play in the AIDS emergency. A foreword by Urvashi Vaid, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, offers a meditation on the politics of AIDS and the role of family in the lives of lesbians and gay men.


“A document of quiet authenticity about friendship (both its joys and its limitations), and the enormous value created family assumes when blood turns out to be thinner than water. . . . Hospital Time adds not only to the literature of AIDS, but to the exploration of friendship and family, and this place in the nineties among gay men and lesbians where their borders have begun to blur.”
— Carol Anshaw, Women's Review of Books

“Amy Hoffman’s searing honesty in Hospital Time is remarkable. Her prose reads like uncensored, yet witty and articulate, thought. The reader is privy to her innermost angst, as she explores her often contradictory feelings. . . . Her writing, like her honesty, is refresing, intriguing and vivid. . . . Cynical at times, personal, graphic and frank, Hospital Time speaks for those of us who have sat vigil in hard vinyl hospital chairs by a bedside, helplessly, while someone we love suffers, minute by excrutiating minute.” — Karen X. Tulchinsky, Lambda Book Report

“Hoffman’s spare and unflinching chronicle of serving as the primary caregiver for her friend Mike Reigle . . . who died of AIDS-related complications in 1992, differs from others in its almost complete refusal of poetic and metaphysical lyricism. . . . Its excellence derives from Hoffman’s disquiting ambivalence about her role as a caregiver to her idealistic but difficult friend and from her distrust of the transcendence of suffering.” — Richard McCann, Out

“With its rawness and immediacy, Hospital Time grips the reader from the first pages. . . . — Neil Miller, World

Hospital Time is a brilliantly crafted memoir about the writer's struggle to bear witness to the death of a friend. Hoffman's story, written in short, breathtakingly compressed chapters, chronicles life at the center of the AIDS epidemic: intense, terrifying, simultaneously suffused with meaning and empty. Hoffman avoids any cliche of the noble death, instead offering us a relentless view of her own excruciating moral struggles in the face of her disintegrating family. Hospital Time moves, not in a straight line, but like life doeslike AIDS does—unpredictably, unforgivingly: as a series of overlapping losses, each more devastating than the last.” — Stephanie Grant, author of The Passion of Alice

“Amy Hoffman details, without flinching, what it feels like to be responsible for a friend who is dying. From the middle of an experience most of us avoid at all costs and against a backdrop of far too many deaths, Hoffman constructs a sharp political memoir about the experience of lesbian and gay families in the time of AIDS. This insightful and disquieting book delivers a moving elegy on the quality of queer friendship, straight culture’s abdication on AIDS, the meaning of mourning, and the possibility of redemption.” — Urvashi Vaid, from the foreword

Hospital Time is necessary, powerful, full of the detail of authentic struggle, and beautifully done. Hoffman is right out there naked in real life with all her convictions and full sense of her community. Her book is a revelation.” — Dorothy Allison


Availability: In stock
Price: $23.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Amy Hoffman is a writer living in Boston.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Foreword / Urvashi Vaid ix

Introduction: Hospital Time 3

Living with AIDs 9

Memphis Stories 54

Mike Dies and is Laid to Rest 65

The Afterlife 91

Conclusion 149
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing

Finalist, Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Book Award

Finalist, Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction

Named to the 1998 Books for the Teen Age by the Young Adult Services Division of the New York Public Library

Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-1920-7 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-1927-6
Publicity material