A 35-year-old gay writer has an obsessive love for a younger bisexual artist: a perfectly rendered, very contemporary account of sexual manipulation, by the weekly arts columnist for the Village Voice. The narrator is civilized, articulate and jaded, at times appalled by his success as a cultural commentator in a world where people who suffer from "buying mania" also "yearn to own all the products of the inner life." Against a backdrop of the downtown N.Y.C. arts scene during the AIDS era--where men remember the sexual license of the past with mixed nostalgia and horror and discuss the unsatisfying nature of "safe sex"--he falls for Gregory Burgess, an attractive, self-pitying former heroin addict. Gregory, who thinks the world owes him because he has to work as a waiter to support his art, declares that he, too, is in love, but--though his words and behavior are constantly provocative--he insists he is too emotionally fragile for sex. A master of lies and manipulation, Gregory is adept at casting himself as the victim every time he uses or hurts someone else. Though the narrator realizes this, he cannot stop loving or trying to prove his friendship and sincerity until Gregory disappears after ripping off everyone in sight. In spite of the very specific setting and the sexual preference of the main characters, there are shocks of recognition aplenty here for any reader who has suffered from love or been manipulated by an object of desire.