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The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things.

The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things * J. T. LeRoy * Bloomsbury * $23.95

In an era of self-congratulatory confessionals, J.T. LeRoy has written the anti-memoir. The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things presents 10 autobiographical fictions in a voice that is nuanced and introspective yet not self-absorbed. LeRoy, 21, known for last year's critically acclaimed debut novel Sarah--currently being made into a film by Gus Van Sant--gathers together his poignant earlier writings, many the basis of that astonishing first book.

The most obvious model, "Lizards," offers a gender-bending narrator who sells his body at truck stops and watches his mother inject herself with needles. In "Foolishness Is Bound in the Heart of a Child," LeRoy adroitly connects his fundamentalist grandfather's corporal punishment with his mother's physical abuse. Decidedly different but no less original, "Meteors" tells of a young boy in Las Vegas who fakes getting hit by a meteor as part of his mom's scheme to win over a guy. Despite the story's occasional lapses into language a bit too advanced for the prepubescent protagonist, it's told with the author's characteristic clear-eyed intensity. Throughout it all, LeRoy sustains his distinct sense of humor, particularly in selections like "Coal," about a mother and son on the run in search of nonpoisoned soda.

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?" asks the Bible's Book of Jeremiah. Apparently LeRoy can, for in these starkly written, emotionally wrenching tales, he has bared his beautifully ravaged, unwicked heart for all the world to see.

* Find more on Dazzler and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things at www.advocate.com

Carbone is an editorial assistant at the New York Press.
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Carbone, Chris
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 17, 2001
Words:283
Previous Article:Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart.
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