Downtown Manhattan in the age of AIDS is ""the beginning of the end of the world,"" according to Schulman (whose After Delores won the ALA Award for Best Lesbian/Gay Novel of 1988). Here, a funky young lesbian takes time out from her bumpy affairs to join the furious activist outcry against silence and death. Molly plunges into an affair with a dramatic flame-haired artist named Kate, trying to keep her shopworn heart in one piece. Kate is married, and every inch the selfish urban intellectual--excluding both her husband and Molly. Kate's husband, Peter, pegs Molly for a man-hater, though all the men Molly loves seem to be dropping dead from AIDS. Drifting up Christopher Street one day, Molly encounters James and Scott, a gay couple drumming up support for a radical activist group called ""Justice."" She agrees to help. The impassioned meetings of the group are a tonic to Molly, sick of waiting for Kate's call, and sick of the disease and homelessness that confront her in the East Village. Eventually, she convinces Kate to join her at meetings, but Kate uses the experience in the same way she uses dark impressions from the street--it's all material for her art. While Kate creates a huge outdoor installation, a kind of dramatic collage, Molly and Justice struggle to defeat a Donald Trump-like developer who is seeking to evict AIDS-infected men from buildings all over the city. Molly finds sexual solace with a Chinatown cowgirl junkie named Sam. After a political-cartoon denouement, in which the evil developer is burned alive during a public speech (it seems he has funded Kate's installation, which gets torched during a demonstration by Justice), Molly finds the courage to leave selfish Kate for more open and loving affairs. Half raw sensuality and street scenes, half political manifesto, this passionate, raggedy tale will cheer Shulman's considerable readership.