Boys Like Us

Peter McGehee, Author
Peter McGehee, Author St. Martin's Press $15.95 (167p) ISBN 978-0-312-04606-4
Paperback - 168 pages - 978-0-312-06913-1
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McGehee's first novel, about gay relationships in the age of AIDS, is filled with unrealized good intentions. The sadness of those who have lost loved ones to the disease comes through clearly enough in the narration by Zero MacNoo, an Arkansas native transplanted to Toronto, where he is involved in a confusing array of ambiguous relationships. When his best friend, Randy, is diagnosed with AIDS, Zero belatedly realizes his true feelings for him. Unfortunately, he's also torn by bittersweet feelings for ex-lover David and his fluctuating attraction to his one-dimensional, oversexed bedmate of the moment, Clay. Revolving around cliched perceptions of gay men as unfaithful, the plot sinks to ridiculousness when Zero has a fling with an untrustworthy drag queen named Jesus Las Vegas, who in turn goes after Clay. McGehee segues into farce by sending Zero back home to Arkansas, where he encounters his eccentric mother, about to be wed again, and his closeted Uncle Markus. Nothing much comes from these episodes; in fact, McGehee leaves many questions unanswered and several characters unexplored. Although he tries to employ humor to alleviate a somber situation, McGehee never provides enough insights into his stock characters to elicit the reader's sympathy. (Feb.)
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