City of God

Gil Cuadros, Author City Lights Books $9.95 (160p) ISBN 978-0-87286-295-1
The stories and poems that make up City of God explode out of the Latino neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where a variety of narrators-some young, some old, some first exploring their burgeoning sexuality, some withering away from AIDS-must daily confront the twin experiences of empowerment and shame in late-20th-century gay life. In ``Indulgences,'' Gilberto first acknowledges his own ``deviant'' sexuality when propositioned by his ostracized and possibly murderous aunt Evelyn at his grandfather's funeral. This pairing of sexuality and death, most clearly explored in Cuadros's riveting descriptions of the body and its failings, unfolds repeatedly throughout the book: while the narrator of ``Unprotected'' describes the safe yet sterile sex of the '90s as a lesson in physical humiliation, the protagonist of ``Letting Go'' must mourn a dead lover while recognizing the potential for rebirth found in someone new. Cuadros, who won both the 1991 Brody Literature Fellowship and one of the first PEN Center USA/West grants to writers with HIV, establishes himself as a new force in contemporary gay-themed writing with this collection. City of God provides frank, powerful testimony to life's continuation during the era of AIDS. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 01/03/1994
Release date: 01/01/2001
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