Most of the characters in this impressive first collection are in their 30s, struggling with long-term relationships and trying to deal with the long, uninterrupted stretch of adulthood ahead of them. Though the characters are also gay, these stories aren't about the fact of homosexuality or coming out, but rather about the unique problems these men face as they approach midlife without benefit of institutions available to others, such as marriage. In the title story, set like the rest in Boston, Robert, a white, ``good-intentioned'' liberal, makes a desperate but ``politically correct'' effort to free Bunkie, an inexperienced, black 20-year-old newly arrived from Alabama, of the influence of his flamboyant uncle. Similarly, in ``Initiating Him,'' middle-aged Marty befriends a confused younger man, recalling his own initiation into a world of others like himself: ``I wanted to dump the entire cornucopia of our history and culture onto his lap.'' ``Saying the Truth'' subtly probes an overpowering subject, AIDS, with plenty of emotion, none of it cheap or sentimental. With these well-drawn and well-chosen lives, Gambone helps move fiction about gays out from under the limiting rubric of ``gay literature.'' As with all good writing, these stories focus on the particular as a way to explore the universal. (June)
The strength of this collection of 16 stories (ten of which have appeared previously in an assortment of journals) lies in its thematic content and not in brilliant language or particularly strong characterizations. What interests Gambone are the ways in which gay men attempt to come to terms with life once they have gotten beyond the coming-out experience. It is thus aimed more at the ``thirtysomething'' crowd than those still caught up in ``the dance.'' The AIDS reality and the difficulty of admitting one's fears is addressed in a moving story titled ``Saying the Truth.'' The title story exposes, in the context of one individual's experience, a widespread prejudice in the mainstream gay community against the more blatant queens. Gambone's approach is a quiet one. There are no wild sex scenes; his language is unoffensive. While most particularly addressed to a gay male audience, the fact that such an audience exists in most communities means that most public libraries should consider it, as should academic libraries with gay studies collections.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.