The sequel to Sinclair's bestselling Coffee Will Make You Black (1994) once again features sassy Stevie, now on a...



The sequel to Sinclair's bestselling Coffee Will Make You Black (1994) once again features sassy Stevie, now on a Candide-esque journey from working-class Chicago to college in the Illinois sticks to San Francisco at the height of gay liberation. This is no great narrative by any stretch, but more a collection of vignettes loosely arranged around the twin themes of growing up and coming out. Sinclair's strength is in her dialogue, not in her grasp of character and setting. But the dialogue is terrific--nailed perfectly to the tempestuous mid-1970s. Brothers haven't been doing it for Stevie, so during her waning college days she commences a tentative shift to the other side, first flirting with a fellow student from France, then going all the way over during a graduation trip to the Bay Area. Enthralled by the tolerant San Fran style, Stevie moves in with her new girlfriend but soon discovers that life in northern California's homosexual paradise--while filled with endless clays and nights of vegetarian love-ins, discussions of positive energy, and the free consumption of drugs--isn't going to be a stroll through the Bohemian Grove. She spends the first two-thirds of the novel unemployed, then gets dumped, and encounters racism and homophobia at roughly the same pace that she greets Frisco's gaggle of shiny, happy people. Sterling, a gay man deep into his lifestyle, takes her in, and she eventually gets a job. Finally, after a brief fling with a bisexual white woman, Stevie returns to Chicago for the inevitable sexual confession to her all-important and ever-wise grandmother. By now, though, she's a California dyke, and the suggestion is that the post-disco part of her story will deal more critically with gay politics and suffering as the specter of AIDS descends. The writing is wooden, but the Afros are big, and the sex isn't laughable. Honest, simple storytelling with a gentle bite.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 1996

ISBN: 0380727943

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 1995