The Medicine Burns: And Other Stories

Adam Klein, Author Serpent's Tail $11.99 (200p) ISBN 978-1-85242-403-9
Taken separately, the short stories in this debut collection are brief slices of bitterness. Taken together, they describe a gay coming of age and a coming to grips with human frailty. In the first story, the physical manifestation is genetic: the club foot the narrator inherited from his mother. After a party at which his guests dress up in his mother's clothing and makeup, his parents discover his sexual preference. ``All I wanted was for you to have a chance at a normal life,'' his mother says. ``It's like you've chosen to be deformed.'' In the title story, the narrator recounts the parallel tales of his painful acne treatment and the doomed affair between a friend (a member of ``the secret club of beautiful men'') and a married man. By ``Dr. K.,'' though, the body's betrayal is fatal: with the narrator's lover dying, he begins an affair with a man whose lover has killed himself. After inquiring about the lover, he adds apologetically that ``Storytelling... is what people do during the plague-they hole up somewhere and have a round table.'' Klein's evocation of both an individual and a culture maturing and entering a funereal phase is strong, and although there are weak patches here and there when imagery gets in the way of meaning-especially in ``India,'' which stumbles pointlessly about-his direct, economical language hammers these stories home with a single stroke. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/01/2000
Release date: 05/01/2000
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-941088-16-6
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