Fabulous Hell

Craig Curtis, Author Alyson Books $12.95 (256p) ISBN 978-1-55583-479-1
The short first-person vignettes of an unnamed narrator shape Curtis's funny and acerbic debut novel, which is set primarily in early '90s Los Angeles (with brief forays into the '70s) and charts the often wacky course of a nihilistic 30-something HIV-positive gay man. Unable to keep a job (but destined for the service industry) or a boyfriend, the narrator comes across as a cynical but outrageous Bridget Jones, alternately fabulous and pitiable. With plenty of charismatic sass, he nonchalantly divulges his sordid experiences in a chatty theater whisper; the tales are both shocking and wildly entertaining. He parties hard, indulging in sex, drugs and booze, and his reckless self-destruction is all the more grave as his white blood cells decrease in number. Somehow, the protagonist hopes to live freely and dangerously yet remain alive and happy, but his fear that fate will not grant him that freedom drives him to excess, escape and intoxication. Eventually, he realizes that life, painful and short as it may be, is still worth living and that he needs to think about his future beyond tonight's bacchanalia. Curtis is generally successful in creating cohesion in the series of choppy, sometimes annoyingly abrupt anecdotes that somehow manage to move the plot forward. He is more subtle in revealing the narrator's transformative insights, illuminating the road to self-discovery. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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