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Following in the tradition of a host of “graphic novels” intended for mature audiences, Samuel R. Delany’s Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York pushes the genre’s name into the realm of double-entendre. The memoir, illustrated by Mia Wolff, is a tale of lust, sex, and—eventually—love, chronicling the unlikely but lasting courtship between the author—a respected sci-fi novelist, social critic, and professor in the University of Massachusetts at Amherst’s comparative literature department—and Dennis, a bookseller living on the streets of New York. But while the storyline sets pristine Amherst against the grime of New York and contrasts the full-figured, hoary-bearded African-American professor with the scrawny, scraggly, Irish-American street denizen, it’s never entirely clear which character is the savior. Even as Dennis removes his work boots for the first time in months, discards his tattered socks, and literally washes himself of his own recent history, it’s Delany who experiences revelations about his own identity. Drawing from his journal entries, Delany’s straightforward telling of his love story nonchalantly pushes aside taboos and stereotypes, dwelling instead on existential passages borrowed liberally from romantic poet Friedrich Hlderlin’s “Bread and Wine,” which preoccupies Delany at the time of the courtship. Both Delany and Wolff render the story sparely but passionately, stepping around the episodes that might inspire gut-reaction revulsion in some readers to bring it to a happily-ever-after end. Delany reads from and signs copies of Bread & Wine at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, at Lambda Rising, 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW. Free. (202) 462-6969. (Colin Bane)