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January 06, 1991|Charles Solomon

MEN ON MEN 3: Best New Gay Fiction, edited by George Stambolian (Plume: $10.95). The best stories in this uneven anthology transcend the label of "gay fiction" and merit a place in a collection of contemporary writing. A young man reflects on his relationship with his cantankerous father as he drives the dying old man to the hospital in George Stambolian's "In My Father's Car," an effectively drawn portrait of the ties and limits of family affection. The narrator in Philip Gambone's good-humored "Enrollment" describes the problems of introducing a lover who is Jewish and male into a big, closely knit, Italian Catholic family. At the other end of the spectrum, "Skinned Alive" by Edmund White begins as a perceptive account of the cultural differences that hamper an affair between an American writer and a blithe young Frenchman, but collapses under the weight of a weird subplot involving a troubled bodybuilder/intellectual. It's sad to note that 15 of these 20 stories were previously unpublished, a figure that indicates even the most talented gay writers have no suitable outlets for their work.

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