Archive for November, 2009

The Dirty Girls Social Club

November 18, 2009

Author:  Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

Title:  The Dirty Girls Social Club

Genre:  Latina, Women’s Fiction

Publication Date:  2004

Number of Pages:  308

Geographical Setting:  Boston, MA

Time Period: Current (early 2000’s)

Series (If applicable): There is a follow-up book called Dirty Girls on Top

Plot Summary: Six women (“sucias”) bonded during their time in college.  They vowed to meet every six months in order to catch up and renew their friendship.  Each woman has followed their dreams with varying levels of success.  They also have varying levels of respect for each other that can create tension in their gatherings.  Each chapter is narrated by a different woman in the book and allows the reader to get a glimpse of the secrets behind closed doors.  Bulimia, physical abuse, homophobia, divorce, and romantic insecurities all play a part of the sucia’s lives.  Personal issues, love, and enduring friendship set the tone of a novel that all women can relate to.

Subject Headings:  Latina, Puerto Rico, Santo Domingo, Boston, Lesbian, Women’s Relationships, Friendship, Hispanic American Women.

Appeal:  Character centered, witty, conversational, engaging, dramatic, humorous, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view, steamy, urban, candid, accessible, leisurely paced, open-ended.

Three terms that best describe this book: Humorous, Relatable, Engaging

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Non-fiction

The Bitch in the House by Cathi Hanauer (A collection of stories from women discussing their true feelings on love, marriage, children, and life in general)

Kiss My Tiara: How to Rule the World as a Smartmouth Goddess by Susan Jane Gilman (Sassy advice on how to deal with men, salary negotiations, and other common situations)

The Latina’s Bible: The Nueva Latina’s Guide to Love, Spirituality, Family and La Vida by Sandra Guzman (A book focusing on encouraging Latina women to combine the best of their culture with their lives in the U.S. while focusing on family, relationships, health, career, and spirituality)

3 Fiction

Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan (Story follows a group of women and how their lives/friendships unfold and intertwine)

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs (Women join a knitting club to help them escape problems in their personal lives)

Lipstick Jungle by Candace Bushnell (Successful women face struggles in their professional and personal lives)

Name:  Madeline


November 18, 2009


Author: Octavia E. Butler
Publication Date:
1979 (original), 2003 (anniversary edition)
Number of Pages:
Science Fiction, African-American Literature
Geographical Setting:
Los Angeles, California in 1976 and the Eastern Shore of Maryland in 1810-1835
Time Period:
June-July 1976 simultaneous with 1810-1835

Plot Summary: Dana Franklin is a modern Black woman in the Civil Rights Era, married to a white man, who is inexplicably pulled back through time to the antebellum South to save the life of Rufus Weylin, an ancestor of hers who also happens to be a white slaveowner.  Dana is pulled back time after time, and must ensure that her family line can happen, no matter what the cost.

Subject Headings: AncestorsRescuesInterracial couplesTime travel (Past)African-American womenSlavery — MarylandSlaveholdersMaryland — History — 19th centuryMaryland — History — 20th centuryAfrican-American fiction — 20th centuryScience fiction, African-American

Appeal: compelling, densely written, steady, closely observed, strong secondary characters, lifelike, description of slave life in antebellum time period, vivid, episodic, issue-oriented, time travel, nonlinear, detailed setting, rural, evocative, chilling, moody, emotionally-charged, earnest, dramatic, earthy, direct

Three terms that best describe this book: Mind-teasing, Involving, Heartfelt

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. LeGuin (similar to Butler’s last novel, good segue between authors)
He, She and It by Marge Piercy (set in post-apocalyptic future, like Butler’s Parable books, similar tone)
Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus by Orson Scott Card (themes of slavery and redemption, affecting one person’s life to affect a timeline)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball (nonfiction about slavery and the American South, from a family point of view)
Doers of the Word: African American Women Speakers and Writers in the North (1830-1880) by Carla L. Peterson (African-American women willing to speak out, like Dana, only not fictionalized)
The Women who Raised Me: A Memoir by Victoria Rowell (a look at the matriarchal society of African-Americans, could have grown out of the split families slavery caused)

Name: Anne

The Man in My Basement: A Novel

November 18, 2009

Author: Walter Mosley

Title: The Man in My Basement: A Novel

Genre: African-American/Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 2004

Number of Pages: 256

Geographical Setting: The village of Sag Harbor, NY

Time Period: Present day (2004)

Series: No

Plot Summary: Charles Blakey’s life is falling apart at the age of thirty-three.  Unemployed, drinking far too much, and estranged from his only friends, he spends his days reading science fiction novels alone in his family’s three-story Sag Harbor home.  The Blakey family has a long history in Sag Harbor dating back to the 17th century when they arrived in New York as free blacks.  Now, however, Charles is in danger of losing the home his family has owned for seven generations.  Nearly penniless, Charles is far behind on his loans, and the bank is threatening to take his house.  Then one day Charles hears a knock at his door.  A mysterious, 57-year-old white man named Anniston Bennet has an unusual propostion.  If Charles is willing to rent him his basement for 65 days, Bennet will pay him nearly $50,000.  Though the money would solve his financial problems, Charles is wary.  Who is this mysterious white man, and why did he chose Charles for this strange request?  Why is Bennet insisting on complete secrecy, and what is contained in the large packages he wants delivered to Charles’ basement?  Though suspicious, Charles begins the monumental task of preparing his basement for Bennet’s arrival.  In the process, he discovers a family heirloom – a trio of ancient African masks – that rekindles in him a sense of belonging, family, and identity.  Charles begins to rethink his decision to rent to Bennet, and his anxiety is multiplied when he learns Bennet plans to construct a prison cell for himself inside Charles’ basement so that he can pay for “crimes against humanity.”  Ultimately, Charles’ need for money and cautious curiosity prevail, and he allows Bennet to lock himself in the basement.  As the 65 days pass, the voluntary “prisoner” and his “warden” engage in several heated conversations that explore themes of guilt, punishment, responsibility, and redemption which all lead to an unpredictable ending that will challenge and haunt readers.

Subject Headings: African-American men;  Unemployed workers;  European-American men;  Rich men;  African-American families — History;  African-Americans — Material culture;  Landlord and tenant;  Race relations;  Power (Social sciences);  Identity (Psychology);  Atonement;  Home ownership;  Debt;  Alcohol use;  Los Angles, California;  Psychological fiction.

Appeal: gripping, steady, realistic characters, vivid, strong secondary characters, mythic, character-centered, complex, literary references, inventive, thought-provoking, sexually explicit, small-town setting, contemporary, haunting, philosophical, psychological, suspenseful, frank, some strong language, realistic dialogue

Three terms that best describe the book: Haunting, Philosophical, Realistic

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

Dirty Bird Blues: A Novel by Clarence Major – Manfred Banks is an aspiring blues musician in Chicago who’s life is falling apart thanks to his taste for Old Crow whiskey (aka the “Dirty Bird”).  His wife Cleo has taken their daughter and left him for a preacher, and he can’t find work.  Will he be able to quit the bottle and regain his family or will he spiral into drunken oblivian?  (realistic characters, psychological, realistic dialogue, alcohol abuse, unemployment, search for identity, race relations, inventive)

The Book of Illusions: A Novel by Paul Auster – Since losing his wife and young sons in a plane crash, Vermont English professor David Zimmer has been lost in an alcoholic haze.  When a chance T.V. viewing of old silent film star Hector Mann makes him laugh for the first time in months, Zimmer sets out to track down the actor.  This is a difficult task, however, because Mann had disappeared years before at the height of his fame.  Zimmer’s quest to find Mann leads him to confront death, chaos, and his own guilt and leads to haunting encounter with the old film star.  (gripping, steady pace, realistic characters, complex, haunting, psychological, frank language, alcohol abuse, inventive)

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison – This classic work traces a young African-American man’s life journey from the South to New York City during which he concludes he is an “invisible man.”  After growing up trusting, the narrator encounters shocking injustices at college, at a paint factory job, and as a member of Harlem’s Communist Party.  These experiences convince him that to whites he has no identity.  He’s an invisible man on to whom they project their own preconcieved ideas.  (gripping, haunting, realistic characters, psychological, thought-provoking, race relations, philosophical, vivid, search for identity)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

In Hope of Liberty: Culture, Community, and Protest among Northern Free Blacks, 1700-1860 by James Oliver Horton – Co-written by professors of sociology at George Washington and George Mason Universities, this book traces the lives of the first free blacks in America from the American Revolution through the Civil War.  It examines this black communities struggles with racial injustice while striving to maintain a unique identity.  This book is about Charles Blakey’s own ancestors.  The Blakey family decended back to these same free black families in Sag Harbor, and it is with this family past that Charles longs to reconnect.

African Masks from the Barbier-Mueller Collection by Iris Hahner-Herzog – Written by a noted ethnologist, this book presents nearly 250 of the finest African masks from the renowned Barbier-Mueller collection.  With 100 color photographs and in-depth essays explaining the origins and uses of the masks, this book offers a fascinating look at fascinating African art form.  As Charles Blakey cleans family heirlooms from his basement, he discovers a trio of “passport” masks from his African ancestors.  These masks help him reconnect with his roots and start to reform his identity.

The Corporation: The Pathological Pursuit of Profit and Power by Joel Bakan – Written by a law professor at the University of British Columbia, this book traces the rise of the corporation over the past 150 years and contends that today it is a pathological institution.  As a system “programmed to exploit others for profit,” the modern corporation is a dangerous possessor of great power over society.  When Anniston Bennet wishes to imprison himself in Charles’ basement, it is to atone for the great evils he has committed in service to corporate interests.  He’s exploited the African people and literally killed children to provide profit and power to the corporate elite.

Name: Russ

The Five People You Meet in Heaven

November 18, 2009

Author: Mitch Albom

Title: The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Genre: Inspirational

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 198

Geographical Setting: United States, Amusement Park

Time Period: Present

Series: No

Plot Summary: The story begins at the end, with Eddie, an old man, dying. We are then taken with Eddie into “Heaven” to meet five different people, who have had an impact on his life, or he has had an impact on their life. They are not the five people that he imagines, and we learn how all of the people and Eddie are interconnected. Through Eddie, we appreciate our own lives and the people who are in it, even if we do not know why they are. This book shows us what truly matters in life, and how each one of our lives are intertwined with others.

Subject Headings: Life after death, Heaven, Death, Secrets, Memories, Accident victims, Senior men, Repairers, Veterans, Octogenarians, Amusement parks, Amusement park rides, Psychological fiction

Appeal: compelling, deliberate, unhurried, insightful, inspiring, thought-provoking, flashbacks, classic, engaging, thoughtful, vivid, melancholy, hopeful

3 Terms that Best Describe this Book: hopeful, inspiring, classic

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death and Life by Don Piper (Baptist minister dies and recounts the sights of Heaven, when he is brought back to life.)

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World by David Koenig (insight into creation of amusement parks, as well as what happens when it doesn’t go according to plan.)

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach (scientific explanations as to what happens after we die.)

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

I Never Saw Paris: A Novel of the Afterlife by Harry I. Freund (a pedestrian who is hit by a car and killed finds himself traveling to heaven with a group of people and they share their life stories.)

Rules for Old Men Waiting by Peter R. Pouncey (a retired old man creates a list as to how he will live out his final days.)

The Ten Best Days of My Life by Adena Halpern (29 year old woman arrives in Heaven with her dog, and discovers that in order to stay at the highest level must prove herself.)

Name: Kathryn

The House on Mango Street

November 18, 2009

Author: Cisneros, Sandra

Title: The House on Mango Street

Genre: multicultural fiction

Publication Date: 1984

Geographical Setting: Chicago

Time Period: 1980s

Series: no

Plot Summary: Esperanza Cordero is an 11-year-old Mexican American girl growing up in a shabby apartment in the barrio of Chicago. She dreams of someday moving to an actual house with a yard – her version of the American dream. But first she must escape the oppressive environment around her, full of poverty, violence, fear, and disregard for women. She watches as a beloved aunt dies from illness, friends are married off before they reach eighth grade, and others stay trapped in their homes because they cannot speak English or they cannot go outside without their husband’s permission. Her only hope is to work hard in school and stay out of trouble. As a friend’s aunt reminds her, however, “When you leave, you must remember to come back for the others… you can’t erase what you know. You can’t forget who you are.”

The book is made up of short stories and lyrical prose that tell an overall story. Written in first person, the narration is childlike, telling the stories of Esperanza’s friends, family, and neighbors through her 11-year-old eyes. Cisneros writes thoughtful descriptions of Esperanza’s colorful neighborhood and the people who live in it. The stories are told like memories—not following a linear plot. Instead, readers get an inside look at what it is like to grow up poor and Hispanic in a big city. The mood is earnest, sad, yet hopeful, with an unresolved ending that you hope turns out well.

Appeal Terms: personal, nuanced, spare, simple, nonlinear, first person narration, moving, poetic, lyrical, vivid, innocent, coming of age story, character centered, intergenerational, descriptive, urban, unpretentious, colorful, serious, thoughtful, female empowerment in a male dominated culture, inspiring, Mexican American immigrant experience, violent, set in Chicago, unresolved ending

Subject Headings: Mexican American fiction – immigrant experiencehome – memories – family and relationships – poverty – physical abuse – rape – short stories – adolescence – Latino neighborhoods of Chicago – female empowerment

Three Terms that Best Describe the Book: vivid imagery, coming-of-age story, immigrant experience

Three Nonfiction Titles:

Barrio: Photographs from Chicago’s Pilsen and Little Village by Paul D’Amato
– A collection of 90 images taken of life on the streets and in the homes of the Mexican American communities of Pilsen and Little Village.

Home: The Blueprint of Our Lives edited by John Edwards
– A collection of brief, evocative personal essays and photographs from 60 contributors—some famous, some not—about the houses they remember and family relationships.

The Latin Deli: Telling the Lives of Barrio Women by Judith Ortiz Cofer
– An autobiographical assortment of essays and poems

Three Fiction Titles:

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
– The story of four sisters who must adjust to life in America after having to flee from the Dominican Republic

Flight and Other Stories by Jose Skinner
– Realistic stories about Latinos living in the American Southwest

Migrations and Other Stories by Lisa Hernandez
– Short stories present the life, loves, and predicaments of very different Chicana women in America.

Fun Home

November 18, 2009

Author:  Alison Bechdel

Title:  Fun Home: a family tragicomic

Genre:  Gay/Lesbian

Publication Date:  2006

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Beech Creek, Pennsylvania

Time Period: 1960 – 1980

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: A non-fiction account of the author’s life that describes growing up living in Beech Creek, Pennsylvania with her closeted homosexual father, a distant mother and two brothers.  The family ran the local funeral parlor part time and her father was also an English teacher at the local high school. Her father is killed in an accident that may or may not have been a suicide. The book talks about what it was like to grow up in a family like this as well as the author’s realization that she, too, is gay.  She also works through her relationship with her father in hindsight as she learns the facts of his life and also in relation to the accident and his death.  The story is told in a graphic novel format.

Subject Headings:  Bechdel, Alison, 1960-Comic books, strips, etc., Father and daughterComic books, strips, etc., Closet gayComic books, strips, etc., Lesbian teenagersComing outComic books, strips, etc., BrothersComic books, strips, etc., English language teachersComic books, strips, etc., Gay menComic books, strips, etc., Undertakers and undertakingComic books, strips, etc., Parent and childComic books, strips, etc., Children of divorced parentsComic books, strips, etc., Funeral homesComic books, strips, etc., Teacher-student relationshipsComic books, strips, etc., DivorceComic books, strips, etc., DeathComic books, strips, etc., Historic preservationComic books, strips, etc., CartoonistsUnited StatesComic books, strips, etc., Autobiographical comic books, strips, etc., Autobiographies (Adult literature) Comic books, strips, etc., Graphic novels (Nonfiction)

Appeal:  Non-fiction, Memoir, Graphic Novel, Graphic, Gay/Lesbian, Intellectual, Literary, Realistic, Frank, Humorous, Ironic, Books, Authors, Past, Childhood, Sad, Fast paced, Emotional, Historical, Award Winner, Accessible, Artistic, Relatable, Discovery, Father/Daughter, Mother/Daughter, Family, Relationships, Coming Out.

Three terms that best describe this book: Intellectual, Literary, Relatable.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Non-fiction

Loving Ourselves: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Self-Esteem by Dr. Kimeron Hardin – This book talks about self-esteem and self-worth for those in the gay community.  Written by a licensed clinical psychologist.

The Way Out: The Gay Man’s Guide to Freedom No Matter if You’re in Denial, Closeted, Half In, Half Out, Just Out or Been Around the Block by Chris Nutter – A book to help men deal with their homosexuality and to be a more authentic person living a true and authentic life.

The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families, Revised and Expanded Edition by Amity Pierce Buxton – Insights and coping strategies for straight spouses and their families to cope with a homosexual partner and parent.

3 Fiction

My Heartbeat by Garret Freyman-Weyr – The story of a young girl, Ellen, who has a crush on her brother’s best friend, James.  When some kids at school ask her if her brother and his friend are in love, she doesn’t understand, but wants to find out what was meant.  When she asks her brother, Link about this, he refuses to discuss it.  James and Link have a falling out because of the secrets they share and Ellen, who loves them both, tries to help them repair their friendship and learn and understand the truth.

Lessons by Kim Pritekel – A girl goes off to college more so to escape her controlling parents than to choose a course of study.  She doesn’t really know herself yet. She finds friendship and maybe love with her Psych 101 TA who used to be her childhood babysitter.

David Inside Out by Lee Bantle – The story of David whose friend comes out to him but he doesn’t want to seem “gay by association” even though he has the same feelings.  The coming of age story of a boy trying to deal with his homosexuality.

Name:  Chris S.

Hot Tamara

November 18, 2009

Author: Mary Castillo

Title: Hot Tamara

Genre: Latina, Romance

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 246

Geographical Setting: California

Time Period: Present Day

Series: There is a companion book entitled In Between Men

Plot Summary: From the outside it looks like Tamara has the perfect life: loving parents, perfect boyfriend, and a teaching job, but in reality Tamara is miserable. She feels like her parents are dictating her life, she doesn’t love her boyfriend anymore, and she hates her job. She surprises everyone by moving to L.A. and working in an art gallery in an attempt to get into a master’s program in museum studies, and hoping to open her own art gallery someday. While there she runs into Will, a high school classmate that she’s always had the hots for. He’s a firefighter by day and artist by night and Tamara is head over heels, but she doesn’t know how to balance her career dreams with the love of her life.

Subject Headings: Mexican American women –Fiction. Art galleries, Commercial –Employees –Fiction. Mexican American artists –Fiction. Women immigrants –Fiction. Fire fighters –Fiction. First loves –Fiction. Los Angeles (Calif.) –Fiction.

Appeal: easy, eccentric characters, engaging, quirky, character-centered, domestic, family-centered, resolved ending, sexually explicit, steamy, contemporary, urban, humorous, lighthearted, optimistic, playful, romantic, unaffected, upbeat, chatty, passionate

3 terms that best describe this book: romantic, eccentric characters, steamy

3 Relevant Fiction Titles

Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdez-Rodriguez – Six friends meet every six months to catch up (funny examination of Latina women and their love lives)

Engaging Men by Lynda Curnyn –Angie is convinced she is the warm up girlfriend as her last three exs have gotten married to their next girlfriend. (Another look at career ambitions and boyfriends)

Imaginary Man by Anjali Banerjee— Matchmaker Lina makes up a boyfriend to please her parents, but finds herself falling for the guy she based the boyfriend on (an Indian take on dealing with family and relationships)

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Titles

Wonder Woman: the Life and Times of the Amazon Princess by Les Daniels – Everything you could ever want to know about this iconic superhero (Tamara constantly wonders what Wonder Woman would do in her situation)

Latino Arts and Their Influence on the United States by Rory Makosz – explains how Latino artists have influenced U.S. pop culture (For those interested in reading more about Latino artists)

Scandals, Vandals, and DaVincis: a Gallery of Remarkable Art Tales by Harvey Rachlin – tells the back story on many famous pieces of art (For those interested in galleries and art)

Name: Elizabeth

Vampire Transgression

November 18, 2009

Author:  Michael Schiefelbein

Title:  Vampire Transgression

Genre:  Gay/Lesbian Fiction

Publication Date:  September 2007

Number of Pages:  272

Geographical Setting:  Washington, DC

Time Period:  Modern day

Series (if applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Victor Decimus has moved to DC, the Georgetown area, where he presides over an S&M club that was once a Catholic church.  He is now known as Victor Boudreaux, and he is haunted by Jesus’ romantic rejection 2000 years earlier.  But he has found love with Paul, a human he has turned vampire and the two live together in violation of the rules of the Dark Kingdom, which all vampires must abide by.  The two go on to seduce Kyle, the assistant to a Jesuit priest, as they must continue to fight for their cause.

Subject Headings:  Vampires; Washington, DC – Georgetown; Underground clubs; S&M; Gay/Lesbian Erotica

Appeal:  historical backdrop, issue-oriented, evocative characters, sexually explicit, strong language, steamy, multiple plot lines, detailed setting, political, urban, chilling, candid, edgy, gritty, passionate, defiant

3 terms that best describe this book:  Titillating, Rebellious, Controversial

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

“Master/slave Relations:  Handbook of Theory and Practice” by PhD Robert J Rubel.  This text tells the ideology behind the sexuality practiced in Schiefelbein’s book.

Sensuous Magic 2 Ed: A Guide to S/M for Adventurous Couplesby Patrick Califia and Patrick Califia-Rice.  This is a good read for those of any sexual orientation looking to experiment a little.

All I Could Bare: My Life in the Strip Clubs of Gay Washington, D.C.” by Craig Seymour.  In the same setting as Schiefelbein’s book, Seymour chronicles the true grime of the gay scene.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

“Soul Mates:  Bound by Blood” by Jourdan Lane.  This books also takes place in a gay club in a big city (Houston), where rules are constructed and demolished.  The appearance of vampires and werewolves also makes this similar read.

“Boston Boys Club” by Johnny Diaz.  Also a tale of gay life in a big city, this book has no supernatural elements.  It does, however, have passionate, relatable characters.

“The Centurion” by James Higuchi.  A tale of war between two great empires, this is another popular read for any fan of gay sci-fi.

The Kid

November 17, 2009

Author: Dan Savage
Title: The Kid: What Happened When My Boyfriend and I Decided To Go Get Pregnant, An Adoption Story

Genre: Non-Fiction, Gay
Publication Date: 1999
Number of Pages: 256
Geographical Setting: U.S.
Time Period: Modern Day
Series: yes (Skipping Towards Gomorrah, The Commitment: Love Sex Marriage and Family)
Plot Summary: Famous sex column (Savage Love) writer Dan Savage writes about life as a gay man with a quirky, and in your face sense of humor. In The Kid Dan picks up where he left off in Skipping to Gomorrah. Dan and his partner Terry set off to have a child through adoption. Dan details the experience with a heavy dose of sarcasm, and humor which keeps the sometimes heavy topics of longing to be a parent coupled with discrimination light and funny. Dan takes us through the ups and downs of the process: the seminars with the adoption agency; the agony of waiting to be picked by a birth mother; the fears that she would change her mind and keep the baby; and the trying relationship with both the birth mother and the baby’s biological father.

Subject Headings: GLBT Family, Gay Adoption, Gay parenting,
Appeal: accessible, humorous, quirky, intriguing, witty, nonfiction, fast paced, family, discrimination, sociatal norms, character centered, compelling, funny, sarcastic, introspective, political, (some strong language, and sex-the author writes a sex column)
3 terms that best describes this book: Adoption, Gay Parents, Humor.
Similar Authors and Works
• Skipping Towards Gomorrah by Dan Savage- The beginning of the journey to find love and acceptance as a Gay man.
• The Commitment by Dan Savage- First comes love, then baby, then Marriage…If it’s legal.
• 21st Century Gay by John Malone Williams- Looks at sexuality in history and the events that have influenced the gay movement.
• Don’t Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff- The story of a a new U.S. citizen and the trials and tribulations of life in the land of excess.
• When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris- Sarcastic and funny essays about life as a smoker and a homosexual in France.
• Payment In Full by Henry Denker- Rebecca and David, a young Jewish couple, have no children, however when they are the only ones left to raise an eight-year-old African American girl, they decide to form a loving family unit, against society’s mores.

Name: Laura Bartnik


November 17, 2009

See full size image

Author: Donald Goines
Title: Dopefiend
Genre: African American Literature
Publication Date: 2004 (orig. 1971)
Number of Pages: 319
Geographical Setting: Detroit, Michigan
Time Period: Present Day (at the time that it was published – 1970s)
Series: No
Plot Summary: Goines shows us what desperation truly is when addicted to dope and living on the mean streets of Detroit. We first meet a young couple, Teddy and Terry. Teddy is already bordering on addiction in the beginning of the story, while Terry is an occasional user who comes from a good family holds a good job, and maintains her own car. We also meet Porky, who runs the dope house located in the slums. This character makes it his mission to  hook people into “the lifestyle” using his drugs to wield control over them– especially women. We watch as Teddy and Terry fall deeper into their habits, doing things they never thought that they would do and losing so much in order to feed their addictions.

Subject headings: Drug addicts – Fiction. | Drug abuse – Fiction. | African Americans – Drug use – Fiction.
Appeal: Bleak, dark, dramatic, hard-edged, conversational, direct, unembellished, vivid, fast-paced, engaging, explicitly violent, issue-oriented, linear, plot-centered, sexually explicit, strong language, tragic, urban.

Three terms that best describe this book:  poignant, coarse, graphic.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:
Pimp: The Story of my Life by Robert Beck (AKA Iceberg Slim) (Like Goines’, Beck also writes about street life (Chicago), urban problems, and falls under the subgenre of African American literature. This is a story based on the real life of the former pimp, Iceberg Slim).

The End of a Primitive (or If He Hollers, Let him go?) by Chester Himes (Similar to Dopefiend because of its theme of addiction and illustration of how it affects the love relationship of the interracial couple in this story. Set in 1950s New York.).

The Scene by Clarence Cooper Jr. (This book contains themes of street life, drug abuse, prostitutes and pimps. A specific city is not mentioned).

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:
Out of the Madness: From the Projects to a Life of Hope by Jerrold Ladd (A real-life story about one African American man’s life experiences in the projects with a heroin-addicted mother. The author ultimately beats the odds and reaches his goals of escaping and creating a new life for himself).
Parallel time: Growing up in Black and White by Brent Staples (Staples, a black journalist, writes about growing up in Chester, Pennsylvania. He highlights his father’s drinking problem, the family’s financial problems, constant moves, his drug dealer brother and his murder, and shoddy education. Staples beats the odds by going on to college and landing a professional job. After he leaves, his family life becomes even grimmer.).
Low Road: The Life and Legacy of Donald Goines by Eddie B. Allen Jr. (Allen writes Donald Goines’ biography. He details his life of hustling, pimping, felony, incarceration, and drug addiction. In the end, (which is placed at the beginning of this book) Goines’ fast life catches up with him when he is murdered in his Highland Park apartment in 1974.).

Name: Susan