The Death of Donna-May Dean

Joey Manley, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (191p) ISBN 978-0-312-05852-4
This somewhat overwrought gay novel deals with equally overwrought characters. Confused about his sexual identity, 16-year-old Jamie is taken in from the mean streets of northwest Alabama by Keller, a self-proclaimed ``wise old queen.'' Keller instructs the young man in the ways of the gay world, obliquely invoking the demise of drag queen Donna-May Dean as the ultimate debacle. Donna-May's actual identity--and lamentable fate--are the trump cards in this mixed hand. The author turns some nice phrases (partying queens spin ``naughty cautionary tales for some silly Southern sodomites''), but frequently lapses into pop psychology--Keller informs Jamie's bewildered mother, ``He doesn't hate you. He just wants to.'' Intermingled with the dishy humor are lame attempts at Significance, and the comedy is undercut both by Manley's inclination to spell everything out and by his repetition of gag lines. Because so many of these characters seem not to know who they are or what they believe in, it's difficult for readers to empathize: beneath all these thin veneers lie even more veneers. (May)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1991
Release date: 01/01/1991
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-312-07702-0
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