Strong writing chops sculpt an odyssey from an addict’s raw life.

BE SAFE

This debut novel follows a group of HIV-positive gay men in the Los Angeles area.

Middle-aged Bert Sykes has HIV. He’s also a dealer and user of methamphetamine, which makes him hellbent on having sex and cleaning house. His friend Korn (also gay and an addict) owns a house in a Jewish neighborhood, where he is entirely unwelcome. Meanwhile, in North Hollywood, Mike Gallagher has graduated from the Cri-Life Recovery House (a place that’s “not just gay friendly, but gay sensitive”). His friend Rogarth was kicked out of Cri-Life by the sanctimonious Rick, a “fag with AIDS who quotes Ayn Rand.” The men’s travels and travails unfold through philosophical rants—like the similarity between ordering a burrito and being at the doctor—and flashbacks involving people like Becky Stein, an infamous “Kaiser Soze” among gay drug dealers. Further details about Cri-Life emerge as well, including the resident hoods, whose hard exteriors crack when they dance the Hokey-Pokey, and the meal called Spread, made with ramen noodles, Tabasco sauce, and mayonnaise that’s mixed in a giant trash bag. Thanks to the prevalence of HIV medications, those afflicted now have better prognoses, though whether salvation or damnation lies ahead for Bert and the others must still be decided. In this hilarious, if dark, debut, author Weaver places readers directly into the minds of meth-heads who are “constructing their own constantly changing contexts” to “fit new and different versions of themselves.” Skirting a traditional plot, Weaver’s adventures flow and burble like liquor taps, and ideas spill every which way, similar to the work of William Burroughs. His portraits continually entertain, like when he tells us that a bear (a burly, hairy gay man) is “the kind of guy who’s found a way to capitalize on his aversion to exercise along with his considerable appetite for pasta, cheese and peach cobbler.” Weaver’s marriage of the high and the low—the classical music digressions and the dirty sex fantasies—will broaden most readers’ horizons.

Strong writing chops sculpt an odyssey from an addict’s raw life.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-61296-808-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Review Posted Online: June 14, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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