Second Son

Robert Ferro, Author Crown Publishers $17.95 (215p) ISBN 978-0-517-56815-6
A love story of two gay men dying of AIDS provides moments of exceptional power in the fourth novel by the author of The Family of Max Desir. On what they each know will be their last trip abroad after a terminal diagnosis, Mark and Bill meet in a Chernobyl-clouded Rome through the machinations of a mutual friend, Matthew, who is seen only through the letters he writes from his Florida home. The pair return to the U.S., where Mark must confront the impact of his illness on his father and siblings; the fact of his affliction becomes ""something manifest on its own . . . an evil thing set loose'' on his already divided family. If the climactic explosion of these tensions lacks the force and immediacy of the central love story, it's because the various players in the family drama are presented to the reader at the outset with their respective roles explicitly inscribed in their characterizations, while the loversand their touching alliancedevelop before our eyes. The union of these two creative people traces memorable images of vitality combating the absurdity of their lot: landscape gardener Mark envisions the terraces he cultivated flowering across Rome for years after his death; lighting designer Bill engineers an electric transformation of a private expanse of forest and lake. The novel ends on two ambiguous notesthe pair's experimental drug treatment may be a cure, and Matthew may have found salvation in the starsa dramatic reminder that, in the face of the fatal definitude of AIDS, it is only in the realm of ambiguity that the possibility of hope resides. (February 15)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 215 pages - 978-0-452-26225-6
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