Book Review – John by Ron Schreiber

Originally published in Gay Star in Spring 1991,

This book consists of what read like a series of entries into a journal or diary.  They do not rhyme and the rhythm is that of everyday, if not banal speech, cut up and set down on paper like traditional verse.

It isn’t verse and it isn’t poetry.  It does not have the vigour, the precision or the power of poetry.  It only springs into life when Schreiber turns for the situation of his lover John McDonald, to describe animals.  This is very striking in midsummer’s day, 1986 and in canaries, which ends in a tension-relieving joke.  There is also in protocols (4-16-86) an image of “hope”.



“it’s wormy body into a

kind of life”


Although Ron Schreiber discusses katharsis (his spelling) the terror and pity of the drama of life and death, he does not achieve it here.  the book as a whole achieves a sort of power – the simple exposition of someone dying with dignity could nto help but be moving, but the railing against McDonald’s family rather mars this dignity and power.  this is not to say that they do not deserve the criticism, they seem to be standard=issue fundamentalists who took their son away to “save” him from Ron Schreiber – and the Devil.

What Mr. Schreiber seems to me to have written, possibly inadvertently, is the synopsis for a television mini-series.  Spread over three nights and with realistic dialogue, this story could do a great deal of good, in the world, especially now that it has been purged from the system of Ron Schreiber and John McDonald’s other friends and companions


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