The Gay Inferno

Fabulous Hell doesnt try to promote the upbeat living-with-AIDS story

But the book occasionally loses momentum. The narrator's voice becomes slightly grating, and Curtis fails to keep the relentless self-destruction interesting. A couple of experimental chapters don't feel fully realized; a long interlude into a job at the Duquessa Hotel adds little to the story.

Though Curtis thankfully steers clear of any big scenes of redemption, the book is full of lovely tiny ones: a surprise tear the protagonist sheds at a friend's funeral, the simple solitude of an early morning. Best of all is the scene in which the narrator is forced to play the Easter bunny at a company event. In these moments and others like them, Curtis shows his skills as a writer, and the tone moves from the cynical to the hilarious to the moving to the marvelous.

Fabulous Hell by Craig Curtis; Alyson Books. 256 pages. Paperback, $12.95. Curtis signs copies of and reads from Fabulous Hell at Different Drummer Books, 1294 S. Coast Hwy., Laguna Beach, (949) 497-6699. Sun., 2 p.m.

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