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 Corbin (No Easy Place to Be, 1989) offers a fierce exploration of love, race, and sexuality as a black screenwriter loses the man of his dreams in a terrifying maze of homophobia, self-hatred, abuse, and AIDS. Dexter, a hot new African-American writer, meets Sergio, a rich Mexican-American bilingual book publisher, on a lonely Thanksgiving when he wants nothing more than a ``quick drink, an even quicker fuck.'' But Sergio doesn't let him go so easily, and Dexter enjoys being ``wined and dined'' all over Los Angeles. Sergio further impresses Dexter when he has the guts to reveal he's HIV-positive and symptomatic. Even though Dexter casually replies, ``Oh, that?... Who isn't?'' he doesn't reveal his own positive, although asymptomatic, status yet. But soon after, Mr. Perfect begins to show flaws. He coerces Dexter into a mÇnage Ö trois, he remains closeted to everyone in his family except his heterosexual twin brother, he has no gay friends, and then his health deteriorates when he gets AIDS-induced Kaposi's sarcoma. Dexter resolves to stand by him, and hope comes when Sergio gets accepted into an experimental bone-marrow transplant procedure for twins- -they'll know in a 100 days if the transplant will give him another seven or eight years or even cure him completely. But Sergio's insistence on telling his close family he contracted AIDS from an old girlfriend, telling everyone else he has leukemia, and most reprehensibly, claiming he's paying Dexter to take care of him and ordering him around like a servant as Corbin unflinchingly describes the grueling daily care, makes Dexter a martyr if he stays and guilty if he doesn't, since even the doctor believes that Sergio can't make it without him. Easy to read, sometimes to the point of being simple--although this can't diminish the importance of this raw, honest, and brave work.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1994
ISBN: 1-55583-232-6
Page count: 220pp
Publisher: Alyson
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1994