The Risk of His Music

Peter Weltner, Author Graywolf Press $12.95 (250p) ISBN 978-1-55597-253-0
Seven stories that feature gay men in love comprise Weltner's (In a Time of Combat for the Angel) new collection. Todd, the narrator of ""My Faithless, Faithful Friend,"" shops and cleans for clients who are dying of AIDS, but never gets credit in the eulogies. ""You try to be a good person,"" says his former lover, Jay, himself an AIDS victim, ""but, like most people, you just can't face things as they are."" Weltner throws his restless characters into moral crises that pit ego against honor and desire against death. In the best stories, such as ""Hearing Voices"" and ""Self-Portrait with Cecil and Larry,"" the characters emerge with a voice or poise strong enough to balance their perils. Weltner's Southern background informs such gothic creations as Cecil, a wry aesthete, and Larry, a blunt midget wrestler. The longest story, ""The Greek Head,"" is the least effective, perhaps because its most interesting character is absent. The deceased Don contributes more in flashback than his partner and lovers-manque do in their rather soapy squabbling and pining. Infused with humor, ""Unlike Himself"" is a kind of gay Twilight Zone episode in which a pair of physical opposites learn empathy in the most literal fashion. A mordant moralist, Weltner too often veers into melodrama, but his dilemmas are topical and provocative. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/02/1997
Release date: 02/01/1997
Genre: Fiction
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