Already on the first day of June 1981, a few years before the birth of Anthony Passeron, who had become a professor of humanities and more recently a writer, the then-Claude Bernard of Paris Director of the Department of Infectious Diseases of Germany Hospital. In the American Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, a publication rarely read in France, there was a report about the resurgence of a very rare pneumonia that was believed to have been eradicated. Its name: Pneumocystis disease. All of the patients diagnosed in California — five, according to the announcement — were young and previously healthy men, according to the bulletin, at a time when pneumonia affects people with very compromised immune systems. strangeness. Very rare.
French expert Willy Rozenbaum soon moved on to other areas. But whether it was a coincidence or cause and effect, it wasn’t long before he found himself in his office with a young man in the same situation. Young and healthy, except for Pneumocystis. And homosexuality, which is mentioned in the article. This was the first case he diagnosed. And then there are many more people coming, and not just at the Claude-Bernard Hospital.
Passeron tells the story of how these strange diagnoses became so common and became a health and social alarm in Sleeping Children (Asteroid Books). A step further, or rather a step further, to the present: the research team, first isolated in different locations and then connected from the United States to Europe, later made discoveries that could earn them a lot of money and a lot of fame; bias and fighting against it – In the eighties, people insisted that only homosexuals, promiscuous people, drug addicts could be infected – isolation of sick people and their families, successful drugs to prevent the virus from transforming into disease and later, from illness to death. This is the story of HIV and AIDS, of the many people who suffer from HIV when no one knows anything about it, and of those who investigate to find out.
His uncle Desiré was the favorite son of a working-class family and a man who could go far.
The story has become part of history and its narrative style is considered to be that of many French writers who transformed real events into literature (e.g. Patrick de Vere, Emmanuel Carrel, Eric Vuillard) Styles, Passeron also recounted how AIDS affected his own family. This is not an easy thing to do, not because of prejudice and the code of silence that has been in effect for many years, but because it is taboo in the country. There was no talk of his uncle, Desiree, his father’s brother. He died, that was it, it had nothing to do with his life. In order to reconstruct Desire’s existence and the entire environment, the author had to investigate it as he would a foreign case.
Desire, the handsome son of a working-class family, is not content with the family legacy (the butcher shop) and decides to take flight. He was the “favorite son” and even had partial support. He is smart, he has vision and he can go far. On that flight, while exercising freedoms that other generations did not have (we were already in the seventies), he encountered drugs. Medications, needles… they are shared and act as intermediaries for transmission.
The title of the book refers to those children, like Uncle Anthony, who were found lying in broad daylight on the streets of almost every population center. Fainting, exhaustion, hunger, and sometimes death from overdose. This is one of the lost generations. At first, the punctures are visible, then they learn to hide them – between their toes, under their tongues. They were taken to detox, and after a while, they fell back into the abyss. They lie and steal from their own parents. They would marry and have children, just as Desiree did, and one day they would fall ill and die from some almost unknown disease, losing almost everything in the process. Passeron remembers her cousin, an heir to the same disease, who died in horrific pain as a child, driving her cousins away from her. So Sleeping Child also in a way takes on the guilt of childhood, the guilt of abandonment, and tries to repair it.