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Esquire pulling his story “The Term Paper Artist” just as it was going to press was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to author David Leavitt. He’d already gotten paid, and the ensuing scandal created a buzz around the publication of Arkansas, which collects “Artist” with two other stories. Not that “Artist,” which is about a gay author named, ahem, David Leavitt, who writes research papers for straight college students in exchange for blowjobs, wouldn’t have caused enough of a stir on its own. Leavitt’s prose isn’t ponderous, and although his subject matter isn’t that shocking anymore—”Saturn Street,” another story in the collection, is about a gay man who falls in love with one of the AIDS patients he delivers meals to—it’s at least not as comfortable as what you find in most short stories colored with nostalgia for innocence lost. Leavitt, who also wrote The Lost Language of Cranes, reads from Arkansas at 7:30 p.m. at Lambda Rising, 1625 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 462-6969. (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa)