The Day Eazy-E Died

James Earl Hardy, Author
James Earl Hardy, Author Alyson Books $21.95 (178p) ISBN 978-1-55583-509-5
Paperback - 178 pages - 978-1-55583-760-0
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Given the recent statistics coming from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention the largest spike in AIDS cases has been among young, gay African-American males it's not surprising that Hardy would use the fourth entry in his popular B-Boy Blues series (following If Only for One Night) to address this issue. In brief, diary-like vignettes (""March 28, 7:55 A.M.""), Hardy spans three weeks in 1995 in the lives of black supermodel Raheim Rivers and his boyfriend, journalist Mitchell Crawford. The startling news that Raheim's idol, rapper Eazy-E, has AIDS causes the young man to examine his past and present entanglements and to secretly get tested himself for the virus. Despite the novel's underlying ""message,"" Hardy deftly avoids any didacticism, as he revisits characters from the previous books and furthers the growing attachment between his two protagonists (despite, or perhaps because of, their frequent spats). Whether Raheim is buying his Ma a condominium (""I feel like Louise Jefferson""), discussing discrimination or the value of money with his six-year-old son, or simply being nursed back to health by Mitchell during a bout with the flu, the author's sharp ear for the foibles of human nature remains as keen as ever. His lovingly drawn characters provide a strong sense of reality, and his sense of humor enlivens the proceedings throughout (after watching Hitchcock's The Birds, Raheim notes that he'll ""never look at a pigeon tha same way again""). Author tour. (Aug.)
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