A shallow look at cookie-cutter urban angst, New York style. McDonell's debut imparts the tale of a curiously charged and eternally committed friendship between a struggling gay writer (who soaks up everyone from Eliot to Yeats but spends his days churning out pulp romances) and an innocent (although not altogether naive) young fashion model just arrived in Gotham from Arkansas and destined to become the next big thing. David has time on his hands, since his most recent lover, a handsome actor, has just hit the jackpot with a prime-time TV show and succumbed to the producer's demand that he stay away from men and be seen with women. The words of the producer are typical of McDonell's reliance on clichÇs: ``If I hear you've taken a ride down the Hershey highway, your ass is grass...I want to see your picture in the paper with broads.'' So when Miranda comes to make her home in the basement of David's slimy Hell's Kitchen apartment building, David, taken by her fragile beauty and charm, becomes protective father, reliable confidant, experienced mentor, and ever-present escort. He holds her hand during periods of depression, suggests books to read so she can be more than just a pretty face, and cautions her about the social elite who merely want to use her: the famous actor who likes to wear her on his arm; the sardonic writer who wants to exploit her lurid lower-class upbringing; the socialite who enjoys having the flavor of the month at her dinner parties. David chaperones her from Jamaica to East Hampton, but in the end, even he can't prevent the vicious slashing of Miranda's face or her subsequent victimization by the sensationalist press. If this all sounds familiar, it is. The dedication page reads: ``for Marla.'' Full of stock characters and predictable plot twists.