Bob Glück met Ed Aulerich-Sugai in 1970. Ed was an aspiring artist; Bob wanted to write. They were young men in San Francisco at the high tide of sexual liberation and soon, and for eight years, they were lovers, after which they were friends. Ed was an explorer in the realms of sex. He was beautiful, fragile, exasperating, serious, unassuaged. In 1994 he died of HIV. His dream notebooks became a touchstone for this book, which Glück has been working on for some two decades, while also making his name as a proponent of New Narrative writing and as one of America's most unusual, venturesome, and lyrical authors. About Ed is about Ed, who remains, as our dead do, both familiar and unknowable, faraway and close. It is about Bob too.
The result interweaves elements of biography, memoir, psychotherapy, philosophy and confession. Glück’s long struggle to write this book remains palpable in its fragmented structure ... Glück writes through digression, in conversation with the inevitable and the unknown at once. This is a stylistic choice, but also a method of opening up the text: Each paragraph becomes a living, growing thing, pushing in all direction.
It’s as tedious to experience Ed’s dreams at length as anybody’s, and though Glück plainly strives to be affirming and loving, the prose is more often exhausting. A sui generis but wearying examination of grief.
Masterly ... Glück’s novel is as philosophical and theory-leaning as one would expect from a writer of the New Narrative movement, while still offering carnivalesque carnality, piercing humor, keen social observation, and a humane, earthy sensibility. This is a revelation.