cover image Afterlife


Paul Monette. Crown Publishers, $19.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-517-57339-6

Having told the highly praised story of his lover's death in Borrowed Time , Monette portrays the anguish of AIDS survivors in this sad and moving novel. Travel agent Steven Shaw has been holding weekly gatherings for AIDS widowers, but he ``can't take care of them anymore.'' Unfortunately, however, he is put in situations that require him to do just that, while simultaneously wrestling with his grief and fear of death. Widower Dell Espinoza requires particular attention; his threats to pour AIDS-tainted blood in a public reservoir and his vandalism of an anti-gay ministry have made him a fugitive. Meanwhile, oversexed Sonny is perpetually searching for a new ``oasis.'' Far more serious-minded, Steven seeks a relationship with a TV producer, realizing that all he can hope for is a day-to-day existence with his lover. A heterosexual woman in his employ shows that there is hope for kindness in the sea of homophobia, but Dell doesn't see it that way, and meets a tragic, if predictable, demise. Sonny finds a strange, but strangely plausible, resolution to his obsession--whose details may put off straight readers. Nonetheless, the story rings poignantly true. (Mar.)