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October 30, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

MEN ON MEN 5: Best New Gay Fiction edited by David Bergman (Plume/Penguin: $11.95; 347 pp., paperback original) . David Bergman has taken over editing this annual collection begun by the late George Stambolian. Not all the stories in this uneven anthology support his contention that gay fiction is "the most vital movement in American literature right now." On the plus side, Peter Cashorali's graceful "The Cemetery" depicts a young man confronting HIV and the shifting cultural mix of Los Angeles; Jameson Currier focuses on the "worried well" at the sidelines of the AIDS pandemic in the well-crafted "Fearless." The weaker stories all seem to revolve around impossibly fabulous people, including "Tricked," Robert Rodi's cliche tale of star-worship, and Raphael Kadushin's "Boys on Fire."

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