Phillip Dross was a writer. He was forty-three years of age when he died of AIDS in January 1987. Four years earlier, he had come to Newburyport, Massachusetts, to live and to face hard realities about himself — the legacy of a painful, confusing childhood in Florida, where he grew up, bouts with alcoholism, and his own shortcomings as a writer, for although he drove his friends to distraction talking about writing, he could not endure long hours alone, especially at the typewriter.
He made progress — the slow, plodding progress that characterizes the struggle within oneself that can be resolved only within oneself. And then, the diagnosis of HIV infection brought him face toface with new realities and the final confrontation with self. Ironically, his writing was never better. Stripped both of the need for and the diversion of pretense, of the excesses that often mar the work of writers who seduce themselves with the sheer abundance of their own talents, he developed clarity, economy, and a pristine, almost fastidious, sense of the sufficient.
The disease spread rapidly. Months before the end he could no longer hold a pen or use a typewriter, and finally he lost the ability to speak.
But, ofcourse, he still speaks ...
These extracts from Phillip Dross's diary were compiled by his friend David Polando.
New England Journal of Public Policy: Vol. 4:
1, Article 13.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol4/iss1/13