A well-known and celebrated man of American letters, Anton Lotus has spent the last few decades living anonymously in a small, semi-rural Pennsylvania town. After years of rather unabashed, libertine behavior, he finds himself faced with the curious and perhaps ironic circumstance of testing HIV positive at the age of eighty-three.
Lotus's physician refers him to a female counselor. Unaware of his true identity, she recommends that he engage in "scriptotherapy" as part of his treatment. Rather than write about this illness, Lotus-stubbornly unsentimental-instead uses the activity to write about the great pleasures and passions of his full life: a hymn of desire, which he claims has been his guiding impulse and motivation, and the pursuit of which he deems his true vocation.
Lotus constructs his memoir using four different narrative techniques-a parody of his modernist roots-and creates multiple layers of autobiography that are often associative as well as chronological, following the habits of his memory. Above all, Desire is a comic novel that ostensibly focuses on sexual desire but ultimately celebrates art, love, and the complex but singular experience of living.