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August 02, 1992|CHARLES SOLOMON

HALFWAY HOME by Paul Monette (Avon: $10.). In his most polished novel to date, Paul Monette draws an affecting portrait of an outrageous gay performance artist struggling with the increasing debilitation caused by AIDS. Although he's virtually penniless, Tom Shaheen lives comfortably due to the financial and emotional support of an extremely heterogenous group of friends. An unlikely turn of events forces Tom to confront his estranged brother, Brian, and their efforts to resolve their long-standing grudges form a moving story of mutual love, respect and acceptance. Unfortunately, Monette (who has written the novelizations of several Hollywood movies) can't resist his weakness for cheap melodrama: He spoils an otherwise moving tale with an improbable ending involving racketeers, FBI agents and murder.

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