Spontaneous Combustion

David B. Feinberg, Author Viking Books $19.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-670-83813-4
In content and in style, this tres gay sequel to Eighty-Sixed is a mixed bag--a smart drawstring purse, as man-hungry protagonist B.J. Rosenthal might say. Spanning the period from January 1985 to June 1990 (with a coyly prophetic appendix, ``After the Cure''), the novel chronicles amatory capers overshadowed by the specter of AIDS. ``I might as well buy condolence cards wholesale,'' laments B.J., who himself tests positive for the virus. Morbidity, however, is intermittently kept at bay by a dizzying parade of B.J.'s friends and paramours, whose dishy dialogue frequently makes them indistinguishable from one another. Confusing, too, are some of the time sequences: Feinberg's tangents have tangents, and he often seems to be writing in never-ending parenthetical asides. The tone is giddily and unremittingly New York, and the parade of retro repartee (``pure as the driven slush'') wears thin. Feinberg reins in the one-liners as the tone grows less determinedly fey, and there is real poignancy in one character's final days. While B.J.'s droll tone is ingratiating, readers may wish his voice were more consistent and less capricious. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 11/04/1991
Release date: 11/01/1991
Paperback - 240 pages - 978-0-14-014862-6
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4177-0315-9
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