Mimi Smithers, the narrator of Love Junkie, is 41 years old and a seasoned social climber. In the wildly funny first third of this novel, her ambitions are within the usual range. Mrs. John D. Rockefeller III (Blanchette, as Mimi somewhat prematurely calls her) is her idol.

After she fails dramatically — not entirely through her own fault — to land Mrs. R., Mimi turns her bored, needy attention to Tom Potts, the elegant, sophisticated co-owner of an arts-funding agency. She joins his staff as a volunteer and struggles to gain acceptance and love from a series of men who tend to refer to one another as ”she.” While the story remains entertaining, one gradually become chillingly aware that HIV is creeping into the lives and deaths of Mimi’s newfound friends.

However, when Mimi suffers a series of not entirely deserved humiliations — a weekend on Fire Island as an unwanted guest, falling in love with a porn star — the novel crosses the line between wicked wit and meanness. Although Love Junkie lacks the polish and discipline of Plunkett’s first novel, My Search for Warren Harding (an extremely entertaining California version of Henry James’ The Aspern Papers), it is certain to be one of the funniest novels published this year. B

Love Junkie
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