2ND TIME AROUND by James Earl Hardy


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 Hardy's follow-up to 1994's B-Boy Blues preserves the author's rep as a dazzling chronicler of ``street,'' gay, African-American culture. Sheer reporterly skill, however, sometimes gets in the way of structure and plot. A barrage of authentic dialogue casts the lives of Raheim ``Pooquie'' Rivers, a bicycle messenger, and Mitchell ``Little Bit'' Crawford, a journalist, in high relief: The men are still in love and still contending with the significant differences both between their individual cultures and more particularly between the gay black and white worlds. Raheim is raising his young son, ``L'il Brotha Man,'' while remaining conflicted about his sexuality. He hasn't been able to shake his hand-grenade temper and appetite for lapsing into African-American hypermasculine poses, despite the fact that his homosexuality is becoming more visible. Interspersed throughout are chapters labeled ``Rewind,'' which offer glimpses of Raheim's former life--the birth of his son, for instance, plus a few saucy meditations, delivered in serious slang, on the pleasures of the flesh. In quick succession, Raheim becomes a male model and learns that his father is not, as he was led to believe, dead. A poignant moment follows in which Raheim has to explain this fact to L'il Brotha Man; Raheim's courage, both at rebelling against his father's example and sticking by L'il Brotha Man, and at working on his relationship with Mitchell, emphasize Hardy's upbeat attitude toward black-family alternatives. The story's tied up rather too tidily at the end, and Hardy doesn't always succeed in masking a thin plot with electrifying dialogue, but the characters--and their language--virtually jump off the page. Hardy manages to combine unself-conscious sentiment and blistering emotion in voices that refocus gay and African-American storytelling. A thoroughly fresh presence in an increasingly crowded field.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-55583-372-1
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Alyson
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1996


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