A slight but engaging novel about AIDS, gay life, and African-American men in Manhattan.
Popular New York model Raheim Rivers is making his way toward Hollywood when he learns of that one his heroes, rap impresario Eazy-E, has been diagnosed with AIDS. Startled, he drives across state lines to have an HIV test—and Hardy (B-Boy Blues, 1994, etc.) achieves nominal suspense by playing out the story during the two weeks Raheim waits for the results. He cannot bring himself to tell his lover “Little Bit” that he’s been tested—and surely wouldn’t tell that he recently had a drunken fling with the aggressive Malice. In the meantime, Raheim’s son Li’l Brotha Man is negotiating through a new, mostly white school in New York and the social problems caused by his parents’ unique relationship. Raheim is still close with Sunshine, Li’l Brotha Man’s mother, but has (in the previous If Only for One Night, 1997) long since embraced his homosexuality. Thrown into the mix is his father, attempting to reconcile with the son he left behind, and some inconsequential stirrings about the O.J. Simpson trial. Raheim buys his mother a new home in Harlem and finally confesses to “Little Bit” about the test and his infidelity. He’s relieved when “Little Bit” admits he too had an “indiscretion”—as is everyone else when Raheim’s results come back negative. Notable for its distinct portraiture and unstudied way with dialogue, Hardy’s fluent evocation of the rhythms and sounds of his characters’ lives is rewarding, as is his fresh depiction of the social challenges facing upwardly mobile African-Americans. His bare treatment of contemporary politics is also blessedly free of off-putting hyperbole, leaving readers with some appreciation for his characters’ perspectives.
A nicely turned, breezy snapshot, displaying most of its virtues in the accumulation of detail—and in the creation of a persuasive milieu among which the modest theme weaves.