A disarming, memorable debut from Leddick, a former ballet dancer. If the classic groundings for the novel are character and plot, and if the pivot of the gay novel is experience, Leddick can claim undisputed mastery of that crucial triad. Hugo Carey, 16, lives quietly in Miami Beach with his mother, Iris, a struggling, Italian-born real-estate agent who once traveled with the international jet set. In Miami, Hugo passes his days brooding lightly over his future, usually with Macha, his best friend and confidante, until Glenn Elliot Paul, a dreamboat with a shadowy past, lopes into his life. Warm to Iris at first, Glenn immediately lets it become clear that he wants some action with Hugo as well, and thus an awkward pair of affairs is hatched. Hugo weaves two webs of deception at the same time: His exertions (notably athletic) with Glenn, and his secret job as a stripper. Not that Iris, whose first-person contributions lend a practical, slightly world-weary Euro-Çlan to the proceedings, would die if she found out. She knows enough to understand that Glenn is too handsome to be devoted, ultimately, to anyone but himself. Glenn remains the book's cipher, a rank libertine who nevertheless winds up becoming a sounding board for everyone else's anxieties, even while arranging three-ways for sailors on leave. As for Hugo, the story follows him through a stint as model and actor, allows him to confront his pornographer father and a host of zany--yet mostly warm--ancillary characters, then plops the whole central cast down in Coconut Grove to ride out Hurricane Andrew. Leddick never relents in his foreshadowing tease of something dire on the horizon, nor does he prematurely tip his hand. Gay fiction of a high order: Insightful, funny, prickly, opinionated, knowing, lovely, and sad.