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Actually, if there's one man in America who's demonstrated the opposite it's David B. Feinberg, an MIT-educated math major and computer wiz by day who, by night, transforms himself into the most popular - and controversial - humorist in gay literature. Feinberg's first novel, "Eighty-Sixed," was the top-selling gay novel of 1991. It was there that readers were introduced to Feinberg's sometimes wise, always wiseguy alter-ego, B.J. Rosenthal, a randy, neurotic homosexual in his early 30s, a perpetually single word processor looking for love in all the wrong places, a master of adenoidal attitude who, with his glasses on, looks like he single-handedly translated the Talmud. Now B.J.'s back in a sequel, "Spontaneous Combustion," published in hardcover by Viking, a book just as candid and hilarious as its predecessor, a combination made all the more remarkable because of Feinberg's subject matter this time around: Living Positive. HIV positive.
Feinberg's a funny guy, all right, but his novels don't read like joke books. "There's plenty of poignant stuff in the new book," Feinberg says, pronouncing the key word "poyg-nint." The numbing helplessness of watching friends die, for instance, a process Feinberg conveys rather touchingly in a chapter called "The Very Last Seymour." How the simple question "How are you?" becomes charged with sinister possibilities. Hearing phone messages from dead people when you flip the tape on your answering machine. When weight loss causes anxiety rather than exultation. On the "Acknowledgments" page of "Spontaneous," Feinberg lists 24 friends who've died of AIDS.
Newsday Photos by Ari Mintz- 1) David Feinberg, who is HIV positive, autographs his newest novel, `Spontaneous Combustion.' The book is about living with being HIV positive. 2) Feinberg is an MIT-educated math major and computer wiz by day and a humorist-novelist by night. 3) Newsday Cover Photo by Ari Mintz- New Yorker DAVID FEINBERG is the most popular, humorist in gay lit - and the most controversial.; AIDS=FUNNY? Newsday Cover Photo by Ari Mintz- New Yorker DAVID FEINBERG is the most popular, humorist in gay lit - and the most controversial. Newsday Cover Photo by Ari Mintz-New Yorker David Feinberg is the most popular, humorist in gay lit - and the most controversial