Valley of the Shadow

Christopher Davis, Author St. Martin's Press $13.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-312-01843-6
A young investment banker dying of AIDS, looking back on his brief life in the richer and racier circles of New York City gay life, sets out his memoirs as ""a final gift'' to his lover, who has already died of the disease; dry-eyed readers will be in decidedly short supply. Davis (Joseph and the Old Man) covers much of the same ground memorably captured in the novels of Andrew Holleran, and will appeal to much the same audience, but the bittersweet sense of loss and nostalgia that informed Holleran's pre-epidemic depictions of the Manhattan and Fire Island gay milieux here has a sadly explicit basis in reality. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the narrator's world seems as artificial as his disease does inescapably real. Archetypes substitute for characters, whose personal histories read like picture-postcard scenarios. The AIDS epidemic's rude intrusion into this paradise is virtually the only element that anchors this escapist fantasy in realityan uninvited guest at the ultimate garden party. When the time comes, Davis pulls the strings of sentimentality competently enough to wrench the obvious tears in the expected places, but much of the book's emotional impact derives instead from the real-life tragedies that, in spite of itself, it evokes. (April)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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