Snippets from the Trenches

a mother's AIDs memoir

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Welcome to Snippets from the Trenches: a mother's AIDs memoir

About This Book

The really extraordinary thing about this book is that it tells the story of how one mother embarked on her feverish course of involvement in the AIDS community, in large part to help herself come to terms with the possibility of her son's death. But all that work really doesn't prepare her. She becomes incredibly intimate with a series of strangers, yet she and her son have more and more trouble talking about HIS illness, which is the reason she is doing all this in the first place. She becomes indispensable at the bedsides of countless other people, but when Gary is dying, she still feels helpless, disconnected and as if she'd never set foot in an AIDS hospital room. What is moving about this book is the fact that all this preparation doesn't prepare, because NOTHING can prepare her." Susan Choi, Pulitzer Prize finalist, American Woman 


Other Reviews Include:

This book will make you shake your head, laugh, cry and ponder over what has happened during the last 20 years of the AIDS crisis. It is a story of a mother who has to come to terms not only with her son's illness but her fierce protection of his feelings. Beautifully written, you learn how fragile and random life can be.  The strength that grows when you open your heart and mind helps us heal from losses life deals all of us. Revealed is a generous soul who has her prized possession taken from her and can only deal with it by giving back to others around her.  - Peter Waterloo, San Francisco

I was so very overwhelmed by this compelling narrative of the scourge, AIDS epidemic. I was reminded of the Bubonic Plague and what people suffered in those horrific years. What a wonderful and empathetic soul the author is and so giving to others in desperate need of love and care. The account of the saddening travails of her own son, Gary, brought me to tears. Perhaps only a mother can feel and understand what those people were (and are) going through and what looms in their futures. This is truly an important true story. We have much to learn from Ms. Wagman's wide experiences with a variety of young people who had one tragic thing in common -- a war with AIDS. - Bea and Woody, Michigan

As the father of an HIV positive gay man, this story had a huge impact on me. I realized that we have almost slipped into the mindset that AIDS, with the current cocktails of medications, has become a "chronic" disease. Of course it's not. Even though we now see many long-term survivors, 15 years or more, we know that the ultimate outcome of this incurable disease has not changed.  This story of passion and hard work for the AIDS cause and for those who became infected is the story of a volunteer angel, doing her best in the face of knowing that the odds are all against her. Living through each individual tragedy and still being able to help is a mental and physical challenge that few people could manage. This part of the story will give others the courage to persist and assist.  The other part of the story, the personal relationship with her son Gary, is simply inspiring. Freda's description of her recognition, her adjustments, her life modifications is one that must have taken rare courage to put on paper. It will cause many of us to review and revise our own relationships and our own lives. Her book will give us the insights that we need for our life as family and friends of the AIDS community.  - George, Texas

Snippets from the Trenches is a compelling story documenting a front-line hero's struggle in the war on HIV. Ms. Wagman walks you through the life of caring for people living with HIV in the early days of the epidemic. For those of us who were there it is a warm and personal journey back in time, when the best and often only thing that one had to offer was acceptance and love for those who were receiving so little and Ms. Wagman gave so freely. But the most beautiful part of this story is the way she weaves her work as a volunteer with her personal crisis of losing the love of her life - her son. The closing pages will touch any heart where she gently shares with the reader her most intimate moments. This is a story that has needed to be told - a story that is exceptionally well told. - Robert Snellgrove, Houston, Texas

Snippets from the Trenches has several layers. First, it retells the history of the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the fourth largest city in the U.S. The author recounts the fear experienced by nearly everyone, the staggering inaction of the government, and the grim determination of those volunteers who mobilized to make a difference in any way possible. Then it tells a personal story of the people who suffered from and were lost to AIDS, as well as the angels who were there for them in their time of need. Wagman tells of the experiences she and her fellow volunteers shared as they worked tirelessly to assist those stricken--only to watch helplessly as one after another succumbed to it. As time passes, many of her friends and fellow volunteers go from being the "we" that are doing the helping to the "them"- -those who are infected and need help themselves. At one point in the book, Wagman pulls out a photo of her and her friends taken on her birthday several years before. In one heartbreaking moment, she realizes that everyone in the photo besides herself has passed away. At its central, most painful layer, Wagman's story is about the loss of Gary, her son, whose diagnosis was the catalyst for her involvement with the AIDS community. Despite her years of volunteering, nothing prepares her for the loss of her son to the same disease she has watched take so many others. This book is a must-read for the GLBT community and anyone who has been affected by AIDS in any capacity. It is a testament to one woman's bravery and caring in the face of tragedy; it is a call to action, and it is a reminder of what we stand to lose from this disease--not people who are faceless numbers and statistics, but people who are members of our communities, people who are our close friends, our families... our sons. - Follow The Sun, Houston, Texas

'Snippets' is a time line of the twelve-year journey of the author's son living with HIV/AIDS. Upon learning his diagnosis early in 1983, she joined the fledgling AIDS Foundation Houston. Throughout the book, she tells of her involvement in helping other people, along with the hope of learning how to deal with her own pending loss. Of course, as the reader finds, one is never prepared for that. The book chronicles the author's personal growth while monitoring her only child's health and that of numerous people with AIDS whom she had grown to love. Even her fellow volunteers were succumbing to the illness, magnifying the sorrow to even greater levels. Although it is her first writing effort, the author was awarded a silver medallion at Book of the Year Expo in Los Angeles on May 31, 2008. - Frankfurt 2008

This book will run through all the emotions. You will laugh, you will cry, you will get angry, you will find hope. You will find this one lady quite incredible. An incredible mother, and an incredible activist. I also learned some things in this book that I was not aware of (I was very young during the epidemic in the 80's). This book is not a book about homosexuals. This book is about a disease that effects many people from all walks of life. This book is about a mother and her son. - Hayley Kolb- Hanging Off The Wire (December 2011)

The book you sent me is wonderfully written. I'm not a bit surprised that Foreword Magazine designated it the book of the year. My hope is that it brings you happiness. It was a great read. All best, Marion Roach Smith, Author, The Memoir Project, A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life (Grand Central, 2011)

Ms. Wagman has so eloquently told of the early years of AIDS, of finding out her own son was diagnosed with AIDS, and reaching out to help others as a way to deal with her own grief to come. I believe she has touched on so many levels, helped the reader by bringing the reader into her own world as she saw it. I could not put the book down. Thank you to Ms. Wagman, in addition to sincere sympathies. You have helped more than you know. Lori B