Thom Geier
May 16, 2005 AT 04:00 AM EDT

EW reviews two debut novels

DANCE RECOVER REPEAT Alasdair Duncan

THE TRAGEDY OF MISS GENEVA FLOWERS Joe Babcock

These debuts by twentysomethings reflect an interesting shift in gay lit — they’re less coming-out stories than R-rated cautionary tales about teens trying to grow up too fast. Both protagonists are suburban gay male high schoolers with dead younger brothers, emotionally distant parents, and a shared mantra toward alcohol, drugs, and sex: Carpe diem while you’re still young and cute. In the piquantly punchy Dance, frenetically cluttered with e-mails, IM chats, and the like, Aussie teen Calvin fixates on a boy whose amateur-porn pic he sees on the Net — and then contemplates a similarly dangerous experience. In Flowers, Babcock convincingly depicts Minneapolis native Erick’s experiments with cross-dressing, clubbing, and adolescent romance without narrative gimmicks, but overloads his story with enough issues (Catholicism, depression, crystal meth addiction, AIDS) for a season’s worth of after-school specials. Both: B

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