THE GIFTS OF THE BODY by Rebecca Brown (HarperPerennial: $11, 163 pp.). Brown's linked short stories follow a home-care worker for people with AIDS over the course of several months. The narrator tidies the apartments of her clients (several gay men and a grandmother who received tainted blood after an operation); she helps them with errands and prepares food they want but are often unable to eat. As she witnesses their inevitable decline, she bestows the gifts of comfort and companionship and receives the gifts of insight and understanding. Brown's unpretentious and affecting stories reveal the widening impact of the AIDS pandemic.
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