Assembly Required: Notes From A Deaf Gay Life
One of nine children, Raymond Luczak was quite different from his brothers and sisters. Not only was he gay, but he was also deaf, the result of a bout of double pneumonia while he was an infant.
In time, Luczak learned American Sign Language, attended Gallaudet University, accepted his sexuality, and nurtured his passion for the written word by immersing himself in literature and by writing his own stories, plays, and novels.
Now, a collection of Luczak's stories brilliantly chronicles the scribe's life, his struggles and triumphs.
From first story to last, Assembly Required: Notes From a Deaf Gay Life is a winner.
The eleven stories in Assembly Required are divided into three sections - each exploring different elements of the author's life.
Stories examine the author's childhood, his love for music, coming to terms with his sexuality, meeting men and falling in love, among many other topics. The stories are at times witty yet heartwrenching, insightful yet sobering.
The writing throughout the collection is quite strong. Every word, every sentence, every tale has a distinct purpose, each further illuminating the kaleidoscope of the author's life. The end result is an anthology that touches the heart and inspires the reader.
As with any anthology of stories, there are some that stand out more than others. But, truth be told, there is not one weak story in this entire collection. Each piece is purposeful in its own way, each expertly building upon themes and issues raised in previous stories, each uncovering more layers of the author's psyche.
There are standouts here, such as Luczak's remembrances of the friends who succumbed to AIDS. Or his experiences straddling the hearing and deaf communities. Or his love for music and the way it shaped his life and choices.
But two of the strongest stories presented in this collection focus on love, family, and relationships. In "Leaving 49 India Street," Luczak relates the story of a telephone call that changed his life forever and of two men who broke his heart. Then, in "Weighing the Bacon to Go," Luczak reflects on his childhood and adolescence, and his complicated relationship with his father. Both stories are beautifully written, heartbreaking in some respects, yet rewarding and life affirming.
"Assembly Required: Notes from a Deaf Gay Life" is definitely worth the read, to not only get the unique insights of a gay man bridging the deaf and hearing communities, but also to be inspired by a man who has proven himself courageous in the face of adversity, victorious no matter the challenges.
RID Press, $14.95
For more about Raymond Luczak, his collection of works, and upcoming events, visit his website.