Men on Men 2000

Various, Author, David Bergman, Editor, Karl Woelz, Editor
Various, Author, David Bergman, Editor, Karl Woelz, Editor Plume Books $23 (338p) ISBN 978-0-452-28082-3
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Last year's Men on Men anthology, the seventh in the series, was a model of the form. Editor David Bergman chose some truly good and different--rather than truly safe or affirming--short fiction. This year, with first-time co-editor and fellow Baltimorean Karl Woelz, the collection seems to be aiming for social rather than literary significance. Many of the tales are quite enjoyable. But none, with one exception--Boston writer J.G. Hayes's contribution, ""Regular Flattop,"" the moving story of three teenage friends, part of an Irish neighborhood gang--is exciting. Stories of common pain, common loss, common love and common death fulfill a social function (a number of stories about HIV-positive characters, in particular, remind readers that the threat of AIDS is still very real), but few of the entries achieve literary excellence. Nevertheless, contributions by Edmund White, Jim Grimsley, Brian Bouldrey and Jim Provenzano stand out, as do stories by five less established writers. A schoolteacher loses custody of his daughter to his boyfriend in Craig McWhorter's ""Silent Protest""; another dispossessed but nonbiological father realizes that ""whatever happened would happen between the parents and the grandparents"" in William Lane Clark's ""Quiet Game."" Teenage boys discover love is a bitter business in stories by Kelly McQuain and Bill Gordon; a tragic accident haunts a man on vacation in Marseilles with his lover in ""Second Island"" by Patrick Ryan. Last year's anthology proved that GayLit could still pack a wallop. This year's proves it can also disappear into the mainstream. And for some, there's comfort in that. QPB selection. (Jan.)
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