FICTION

After Francesco

John Scognamiglio Books. May 2021. 304p. ISBN 9781496733511. $26. F
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It has been 40 years since the first cases of what would come to be known as AIDS were reported in the United States. Malloy’s new novel (after The Year of Ice) is set at the height and in the epicenter of the epidemic, 1988 New York City. It’s been two years since Kevin Doyle’s partner Francesco died of the disease; two years of grief and anger as more of Kevin’s friends die, and the world doesn’t seem to care. After the funeral of one of his closest friends, Kevin loses his job and then drinks himself into the hospital. This leads his friends to stage an intervention of sorts, with the suggestion that he return to his hometown of Minneapolis to recuperate. Over the next months, Kevin finally faces his feelings and starts to build a new life without Francesco.
VERDICT In this highly recommended novel, the pain and rage felt by Kevin and those in the trenches with him is palpable and uncomfortable and real. So too is the love and warmth of spirit they manage to nurture in order to survive.
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