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Champagne's second novel (The Blue Lady's Hands, 1988--not reviewed): a slight but mildly enjoyable coming-of-age story of a young gay man--living in pre-AIDS New York--who becomes embroiled in an odd mÉnage à trois with an older gay couple. Will leads a haphazard life. He dabbles in art (collages are his medium), claims to be a Marxist, and practices vegetarianism. Mostly, though, he cleans apartments--and looks for love. He usually seems to meet men on different modes of public transportation--the furniture salesman from Queens on the subway; an opera director on a bus; and a sound engineer on the ferry to the Statue of Liberty. Meanwhile, Will's constant imaginary companions are ""fish baby"" and ""parrot boy."" Fish baby has no arms or legs and was washed up on the shore one day--""a kind of disfigured Venus of the half shell."" Parrot boy is a mute who sings in ""a terrible moan, like the formless and pathetic sounds made by someone whose tongue has been cut out."" To deal with his loneliness, Will creates extraordinary stories about these fantastic characters. Then Will meets Scott and Dennis in an East Village ""art boy bar."" They're everything he is not: a couple, older, worldly, and upwardly mobile. Together, the three of them would be ""the perfect family."" But Scott and Dennis aren't interested in a permanent partner. Unlike his collages, Will can't seem to put the different pieces of his life together into a picture he is happy with. Like his protagonist, Champagne dabbles in everything from art as metaphor to the different levels of gay society--but, unfortunately, he doesn't follow through. The stories about Will's imaginary friends seem to have little to do with anything, and Will himself is a one-dimensional character, flat and unappealing. A few deft characterizations and occasional flashes of insight lend some interest.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1990
Publisher: Meadowlands/Carol