LABOUR OF LOVE by Doug Wilson


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 Author Peter McGehee, who introduced AIDS-afflicted but zany Zero MacNoo in Boys Like Us (1991) and Sweetheart (1992), died after the latter novel; here, his lover and collaborator completes the trilogy with an account of Zero's death. The point of view is no longer Zero's (an American in Canada) but that of Zero's friend and lover David, also sick with AIDS. The story is a sickbed (and deathbed) chronicle, as well as a gathering of episodes related both to gay love and friendship in the 90's and to the attempts of Zero's provincial Arkansan family to cope with his illness and death. Along the way, Wilson, always workmanlike, introduces (or brings back from the previous novels) a panoply of characters who are either screwy and endearing or screwy and maddening. While Zero and David deal with fevers, drugs, and hospital visits, friend Snookums (effeminate, almost stereotypically so) provides emotional support; Edie from Arkansas (hard to get along with) makes a nuisance of herself; and Lance, David's long-distance lover, keeps in touch. Zero, working feverishly to finish his writing, participates in Gay Pride day between CAT scans. Finally, though, beyond treatment, he comes home to die, and afterward David deals with Zero's family by driving to Arkansas, where he has sizzling graphic sex with Lance before taking off with lesbian friend Frenchie for California and a reunion with old friends, also afflicted, and returning home with his vow to ``Stay angry. Keep laughing. Never stop loving.'' Wilson himself died in 1992, but he's left behind a tribute not only to his dead lover but to the human spirit.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-312-09839-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 1993


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