Posts Tagged ‘first person narrative’


September 26, 2012
Author: Robert B. Parker
Title: Brimstone
Genre: Western
Publication Date: May 5th 2009
Number of Pages: 304 pages or 5 hours and 5 minutes on 4 CD’s
Geographical Setting: Texas, United States
Time Period: 19th Century American West
Series (If applicable): Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch; book 3
Plot Summary: The third book in the Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch series, followings the two gun-men for hire to Brimstone. After finding Virgil’s sweetheart Allie French in a brothel the three decide to start life over in the town of Brimstone. Cole and Hitch are hired on as two deputies to keep the peace in town. Things get shaky as Brother Percival sets out to shut down all the saloons in town and help Allie become a changed woman. A strange Indian appears and kidnaps two women. Pike the owner of Pike’s Palace (the best saloon in town) is not taking any of Percival’s nonsense and intends on staying in business. Can the two deputies keep the peace before anyone gets hurt? Or is murder and gunfights inevitably in the near future? With deals gone wrong, lovers gone astray and men working for both sides, this western novel has something in it to please everyone.
Subject Headings: Former Lovers; Contract Killers; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Houses of prostitution; Redemption; Change (Psychology); Murder; Violence in men; Gunfights; Protectiveness in men; Small town life—The West (United States); Cole, Virgil; Hitch, Everett
Appeal: Gritty, Fast-paced, Lawmen, Cowboys, Indians, Small Western towns, Gunfights, Men-Friendships, First-Person Narrative, Dialog Driven, Character Detailed, Detailed Setting
3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Gunfights, Character Detailed, First-Person Narrative
Three Fiction Read-a-likes:
1. The Sisters Brothers (May 2011) by Patrick deWitt
This fast-paced, darkly humorous western follows the two guns for hire, Eli and Charlie Sister on a mission to kill Herman Kermit Warm. As told through Eli’s narration, along the way the men encounter many adventures some involving a bear and Indians. Like Brimstone this novel is told in First-person narrative and involves the story of two guns for hire.
2.  The Virginian: a horseman of the plains (Apr 2002) by Owen Wister
The first true western written, this story follows the life of a cowboy on a cattle ranch in Wyoming. With episodes of violence, hate, revenge, friendship and romance, you get a feel of what life was like back in the 19th century. Containing many of the same elements as Brimstone it would be an interesting look at the first western written and how it paved the way for future stories to unfold.
3. The Palo Duro Trail (Nov 2004) by Jory Sherman
A man hired to move 4,000 cattle along the Palo Duro Trail faces many obstacles along the way, including; harsh weather, Comanches and a hired killer. Like Brimstone both characters in these books deal with Native Americans and others who want to kill them.
Three Nonfiction Read-a-likes:
1. Wyatt Earp: the life behind the legend (Sep. 1997) by Casey Tefertiller
Using primary sources and personal accounts by people who knew Wyatt Earp, Casey Tefertiller tries to tell the true story of the legendary lawman. What really happened at Tombstone, Arizona during that famous gunfight? With elements of true history involving real men of the law, you can see first hand what a marshal would be up against, just like what Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch experienced.
2. Draw: the greatest gunfights of the American West (2003) by James Reasoner
In this book myths and legends of Hollywood do not apply. Only the truth on how those who lived to serve the law, fight the law and died by the gun are told. Like the gunfights in Brimstone this book details real life gunfights of the west.
3. Tough towns: true tales from the gritty streets of the old west (Nov 2006) by Robert Barr Smith
Citizens living in small western towns banned together to fight against lawbreakers and protect their towns. Like Brimstone this books tells the tales of small towns and the people who became heros in their own time.
Name: Madison Gailus

Giovanni’s Room

November 15, 2011

Author: James Baldwin

Title: Giovanni’s Room

Genre: GLBTQ / Literary Fiction

Publication Date: 1956

Number of Pages: 169

Geographical Setting: Paris

Time Period: 1950s

Plot Summary: With his fiancée Hella away in Spain, David—a twenty-something American living abroad in Paris—moves in with an Italian man named Giovanni and begins a romantic affair with him. David is conflicted about his burgeoning homosexual identity and this conflict grows more intense when Hella returns to Paris. David loves Giovanni, but his conditioning as an American male of the mid-twentieth century precludes him from committing to the relationship and to the truth of his homosexuality. David narrates the story from some time in the future, in a house in the south of France, at which point Hella has returned to America and Giovanni has been sentenced to death for some crime which is revealed near the end of the book. The story thus recounts how David ends up alone, with neither a gay nor a straight companion.

Subject Headings: Homosexuality; Gay fiction; Love triangles; American expatriates—Paris

Appeal: bleak, character-centered, compelling, concise, emotional, first-person narrative, heartbreaking, introspective, melodramatic, psychological, reflective, somber, tragic

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-centered, introspective, heartbreaking

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present by Neil Miller [Comprehensive guide to the history of homosexuality, including information about the time and place of Giovanni’s Room]

Gay Fictions: Studies in a Male Homosexual Literary Tradition by Claude J. Summers [Lit-crit text featuring essays about male homosexual fiction, including one about Giovanni’s Room]

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway [About life as an American expatriate in Paris]

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Married Man by Edmund White [Love story about gay men set in Paris; tragic, bleak, heartbreaking; protagonist is an American expatriate]

Maurice by E.M. Forster [Ahead-of-its-time depiction of gay romance; examination of inner conflict produced by having homosexual feelings in a time when being gay was socially unacceptable; European setting]

The City and the Pillar by Gore Vidal [First American novel to openly discuss homosexuality; more inner conflict about gay identity; tragic love story]

Name: Brian W.

Dearly Devoted Dexter

October 12, 2011

Author: Jeffrey P. Lindsay (narrator Nick Landrum)

Title: Dearly Devoted Dexter

Genre: Psychological suspense fiction

Publication Date: July, 2005

Number of Pages: 292 (8 audio CDs)

Geographical Setting: Miami, Florida

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: Dexter #2

Plot Summary:  Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter analyst for the Miami-Dade police department, who incidentally doesn’t like blood.   Unknown to his co-workers and his police officer sister, Deb, he is a neat serial killer, who preys on other serial killers.  This series is the story of Dexter, and his serial killer persona, that he affectionately refers to as the “Dark Passenger”.  While working for the police department, he encounters serial killers, hunts them, and disposes of them with his own variety of vigilante justice, while trying to hide his extra-curricular activities from the people in his life. While the Dark Passenger is targeting a pedophile and a photographer, Dexter’s boss is starting to suspect that Dexter is not what he seems.  Meanwhile, a darker serial killer comes to town and exacts disturbing revenge on a list of veterans from an army occupation in El Salvador. Dexter must throw his suspecting boss off his trail and does so by accidentally getting engaged. This little complication gives Dexter more trouble than tackling two serial killers. This audio performance illustrates the quiet, introspective and charming character of Dexter, in juxtaposition with his very dangerous activities.

Subject Headings:  Crime laboratories, Forensic scientists, Morgan, Dexter, Police, Psychopathic criminals, serial murder investigation, Serial murderers, Serial murders, Vigilantes

Appeal:  gruesome, sarcastic, fast-paced, disturbing, first-person narrative, issue-oriented, contradictory, suspenseful, offbeat, gritty, dialogue-rich, puzzling, charming, introspective.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: witty, darkly humorous, grisly

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

 1)    Mindhunter: inside the FBI’s elite serial crime unit by John Douglas-This collection of interviews of real serial killers reads like a fiction novel and chronicles the development of the Investigative Support Unit of the FBI. These interview get into the minds of the killers to probe for their motivations.

2)    Crime Beat: a decade of covering cops and killers by Michael Connelly-Before he was the author of popular mystery series featuring Detective Harry Bosch, Michael Connelly was a crime beat reporter in Florida and Los Angeles.  This book shows how this work contributed to the details in his novels.  Includes the true crime story of a Florida serial killer, Christopher Wilder.

3)    Without Pity: Ann Rule’s most dangerous killers by Ann Rule-This prolific true crime writer gives equal attention  to the criminal, investigators and prosecutors (Novelist).  This book covers crimes committed by seemingly normal me, like Dexter.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 1) Double Cross by James Patterson-This is a suspenseful, dark and violent series set mostly in Washington D.C. about a police detective, Alex Cross, who is a psychologist and uses his talents to profile the serial killer he is tracking.  The identity of the killer is sometimes surprising.

2) Heartsick by Chelsea Cain-This gruesome and violent series starter was chosen for the treatment of the relationship between a police officer and his abductor-serial killer who let him go. This story gets inside the serial killer’s head as well as the officer’s. The dark local of the Pacific Northwest adds to the darkness of the story.

3) Final Price by Gregory J. Smith-This detective with a sidekick story, similar to Dexter and his sister, is a story of brutal serial murders told in a darkly humorous fashion with the subject of revenge.


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

March 15, 2011 Haddon, Mark; narrated by Jeff Woodman

Title: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time

Genre: Literary Fiction/ Audio book

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 5 audio discs; 6.25 hours

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: Current Day

Series: n/a

Plot Summary: When Christopher discovers his neighbor’s poodle impaled on a garden rake, he is determined to discover the truth behind the murder. Christopher is 15 years old, mathematically gifted, and autistic. During his investigation, Christopher inadvertently finds out the secret behind his mother’s death. Written in the first person narrative, Haddon’s well- developed portrayal of Christopher’s autistic behaviors is realistic. Christopher doesn’t like to be touched, has to be taught appropriate social behaviors, and is very literal. Narrator Jeff Woodman’s portrayal of Christopher’s British accent and unique voice is convincing and authentic. This simply written, leisurely paced, character-driven novel is a warm coming of age story. Christopher’s disability also takes a toll on his family and the portrayal of his flawed parents is believable. The multi-dimensional plot drives this gentle mystery to a hopeful conclusion.  Haddon’s use of humor; and simple, unaffected language provide an accurate and heartwarming portrayal of living with autism.

Audio note: Chapter numbers do not progress in a traditional linear sequence.

Subject Headings: Autism; England; Savant Syndrome; Coming of Age; Gentle Mystery; Parenting Disabled Children; Living with a Disability; Murder; Family Secrets; Dogs; Sherlock Holmes; Mathematics

Appeal: leisurely-paced, unique voice, lifelike characterization, well-developed primary and secondary characters, mildly investigative, simple language, detailed setting, first person narrative, unaffected British jargon, heartwarming, humorous, accurate portrayal of autism, character-centered

3 terms that best describe this book: realistic description of autism, family secrets, moving

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

McCarthy, Jenny—Louder Than Words: A Mother’s Journey in Healing Autism (honest, parenting autistic children, autism awareness, humorous)

Mukhopadhyay, Tito Rajarshi—How Can I Talk If My Lips Don’t Move?: Inside My Autistic Mind (first person narrative, realistic account of autistic behaviors, authentic language, parents of autistic children)

Taylor, Blake E.S.—What I Learned from Lighting Fires a the Dinner Table (teen memoir, coping with a disability, honest, handicap awareness)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Kaslik, Ibi—Skinny (first person alternating narratives, coming of age, family secrets, sympathetic characters, realistic account of disability)

Stork, Francisco X—Marcelo in the Real World (believable first person narrative, adolescent with Asperger’s Syndrome, realistic portrayal of parenting a disabled child, authentic language, strong primary and secondary characters, moving)

Tobe, Keiko—With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child (moving graphic novel, realistic account of parental struggles with disabled child, sensitive treatment of disability, informative, steady pacing, bittersweet)

Name: Debbie Siegel

A Girl Named Zippy

June 15, 2010

A Girl Named Zippy Book Cover

Author: Kimmel, Haven

Title: A Girl Named Zippy

Genre: Nonfiction/Memoir

Publication Date: 2001

Geographical Setting: Mooreland, Indiana

Time Period: 1960s – 1970s

Number of Pages: 275

Series: No

Plot Summary:

Through a series of vignettes, Haven Kimmel narrates her childhood in Mooreland, Indiana. Every short chapter is preceded by a photograph from her childhood. Each amusing anecdote focuses on Zippy’s family, friends, beloved animals, or small town life. Although she didn’t speak until she was three years old, Zippy has an abundance of recollections which she shares with the reader, telling her story through the voice of a young Zippy Jarvis.

Subject Headings: Family and Relationships — Growing Up, Memoirs — Growing Up, Adult books for young adults, Childhood and youth, Girls, Biography, Small town life, Autobiographies (Adult literature)

Appeal: dialogue-focused, compelling, engaging, engrossing, detailed characters, multiple points of view, reflective, well-drawn characters, first-person narrative, nostalgic, character-centered, family-centered, thought provoking, domestic, flashbacks, layered, contemporary, small-town, contemplative, haunting, introspective, psychological, engaging, conversational, natural, simple, unpretentious

Three Terms that best describe this book: Family-Centered, Reflective, Engaging

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Buffalo Gal: A Memoir by Laura Pedersen. This is a fanciful memoir about the “neighborhood wild child” that takes place in the 1970s.  This work follows Pedersen from her days as the impulsive and undisciplined neighborhood kid to a 21 year old millionaire with a seat on the American Stock Exchange. (engrossing, engaging, nostalgic, reflective)

Holy Roller: Growing up in the Church of Knock Down Drag Out, or, How I Stopped Loving a Blue-Eyed Jesus by Diane Wilson. This is a memoir of a Pentecostal Holy Roller/shrimper’s daughter growing up along the Texas Gulf Coast in the 1950s. (family-centered, character-centered, nostalgic, simple, unpretentious)

The Only Girl in the Car: a Memoir by Kathy Dobie.  A coming-of-age memoir of a Catholic girl growing up in a small Connecticut town in the 1960s. At 14 and longing for a role other than the “good daughter,” Dobie gets caught up in the wrong crowd at the local teen center. Dobie eventually leads herself away from self-destruction with the help of her English teacher. (Compelling, character-centered, small-town, thought-provoking, haunting)

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Windchill Summer, by Norris Church Mailer. A coming-of-age novel about Cherry, a young girl in her last year of college. The story is set in the summer of 1969 in Sweet Valley Arkansas. It is during this summer that Cherry falls in love and begins to question her commonplace life. This book is similar to Zippy in that it is about small-town life during the 1960s. (Partially told in the first-person narrative, character-centered, contemplative)

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen: A Novel by Susan Gregg Gilmore. Catherine Grace Cline is the daughter of a Baptist preacher growing up in Ringgold, GA in the 1970s. She daydreams of leaving her small town for the big city of Atlanta. In time, she does make it to Atlanta, only to come home again because of a tragedy. Ultimately, Catherine Grace decides that Ringgold is not such a bad place after all. Like Zippy, this coming-of-age story is set during the seventies in a small town. (engaging, first-person narrative, character-centered, simple language)

A Brief History of the Flood by Jean Harfenist. Lillian Anderson’s coming-of-age tale is told in 11 short stories, much like chapters of a novel. The story takes place during the 1960s in (imagined) rural Sioux County Acorn Lake, Minnesota. Lillian’s parents are eccentric characters – a manic-depressive mother and an alcoholic father. Lillian is an unforgettable character who does not choose maturity, it is forced upon her. This book is similar to Zippy in that it takes place in a small town during the 1960s. (first-person narrative, simple and natural language, nostalgic, unpretentious, family-centered)

Name: Laona Fleischer

Water for Elephants

May 24, 2010

Water for Elephants Book Cover

Author: Gruen, Sara

Title: Water for Elephants

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Geographical Setting: Small towns across the United States

Time Period: Alternates between the Depression and Present Day

Series: No

Plot Summary: Water for Elephants is the colorful and historically accurate story of life on the road for a community of circus employees/workers. Jacob Jankowski is 90 or 93 years old and resides in a nursing home. The circus has come to town and all of the fellow nursing home inhabitants are excited about attending. Unbeknownst to the other residents, at the age of 23 Jacob spent several years working as the veterinarian for The Benzini Bothers Circus. Flashing back and forth between the 1930s and the present day, Jacob narrates the story of his life in the circus and afterwards. On the verge of graduating from veterinary school, Jacob learns of his parent’s tragic death and despair causes him to walk out of his final exams. He jumps a train only to discover that he is in the midst of a traveling circus company. Hired by Uncle Al, the Benzini Brothers’ corrupt owner, Jacob discovers life in a traveling circus is far from glamorous. As the vet, Jacob is a member of the privileged circus staff, and finds himself involved in an awkward relationship with August, his boss, and August’s wife Marlena. Jacob and Marlena work to keep their desire at a distance and are successful at reigning in their desire until a catastrophic event occurs involving August, Jacob, Marlena, and Rosie, Jacob’s beloved circus elephant.

Subject Headings: Circus performers; Reminiscing in old age; Depressions – 1929-1941; Traffic accident victims; Human/animal relations; Parents – Death; Veterinarians; Men/women relations; Triangles (Interpersonal relations); Women circus performers; Circus animals; Women horse trainers; Elephants; Human-animal communication; Manic-depressive men; Circus; Literary Fiction

Appeal: compelling, engrossing, gritty, nostalgic, romantic, dangerous, bittersweet, well-drawn characters, well-developed, first-person narrative, memorable and important secondary characters, authentic, storyline told through flashbacks, tragic, resolved ending, accurate, historical details, lush, descriptive language, detailed settings, circus life, engaging, nostalgic, vivid, emotionally-charged, exciting page-turner

Three Terms that best describe this book: Character-Centered, Romantic, Nostalgic

Similar Authors and Works:

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Modoc: the true story of the greatest elephant that ever lived by Ralph Helfer is the story of a circus elephant and her dedicated comrade/trainer. (Circus, Circus animals, Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication)

Jumbo: the Greatest Elephant in the World by Paul Chambers is the real life tale of Jumbo the elephant and his devoted zookeeper Matthew Scott. Jumbo’s life is traced from Africa to Europe to the United States. His tragic death is preceded by a stint in P.T. Barnum’s Greatest Show on Earth. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication, Circus, Circus animals)

The Tarantula Whisperer: a Celebrity Vet Shares her Secrets to Communication with Animals by Laura Pasten; foreword by Stephanie Laland. This book is an educational and entertaining biography by a veterinarian who offers her tales about communicating with a variety of animals, including elephants. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication)

Night after night by Diana Starr Cooper with illustrations by Ivy Starr illustrates life in the Big Apple Circus. Cooper’s reflections focus on animals and performers as well as the shared way of life for both. (Circus, Circus performers, Circus animals)

Under the Big Top: a Season with the Circus by Bruce Feiler is the story of the author’s season with the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers troupe and provides an education in circus history. (Circus, Circus performers)

All Things Bright and Beautiful by James Herriot is the real-life story of a veterinarian and his relationships with his animal patients. (Human/animal relations, Human-animal communication, Veterinarians, Memoir)

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter is the story of Sophie, a circus aerialist and Jack, a young writer, who is captivated by her. (Historical fiction, romance, Women circus performers, Men/women relations)

The Aerialist by Richard Schmitt is a novel about the growing relationship of two friends, Gary and Dave, who join the circus as grounds workers. (Circus, Circus performers)

World of Wonders by Robertson Davies is the story of a magician who narrates his life story to coworkers on a film set. (Magicians, Coming of age, Narrative that moves from the present to the past, Reminiscing in old age)

Losing Julia by Jonathan Hull is the story of a soldier who falls in love with his dead military comrade’s girlfriend. (Historical fiction, Romance, Men/women relations, Reminiscing in old age)

Name: Laona Fleischer

Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History

April 7, 2010

Author: Jorge Ramos

Title: Dying to Cross: The Worst Immigrant Tragedy in American History (Audio)

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 208

Geographical Setting: Texas

Time Period: 21st Century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Outside of Victoria, Texas on a hot May morning 19 people died of heat exposure, asphyxiation, and dehydration locked inside of a trailer truck. These 19 were illegal immigrants using coyote smugglers to get them over the border to start a new life in the United States. Learning of their treatment and suffering Jorge Ramos began an all-consuming project of finding out who these people were, why they so desperately wanted to get to America, the dangers that surround crossing the border illegally and immigration policies of the United States and Mexico. Using interviews with the victims’ families and survivors, personal experiences and conversations with policy makers Ramos creates a heart wrenching and informative piece. Reading his own book, the listener can almost feel the pain Ramos has over this story and issue and his passion to initiate change in the policies.

Subject Headings: Immigration, Human Trafficking, Survivor Stories, True Story

Appeal: engrossing, heart wrenching, issue-oriented, thought-provoking, outspoken, empathetic, accessible, political, vivid, character driven, first person narrative, moderate pace, somber, contemporary

3 terms that best describe this book: issue-oriented, informative, heart wrenching

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez by Richard Rodriguez: A memoir of life as a legal immigrant in America in a community filled with illegals, assimilation and embracing two cultures.

Children of Immigration by Carola SuĀirez-Orozco: After twenty years of research SuĀirez-Orozco presents her findings on life as an immigrant.

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea: The story of 26 men who crossed the border on foot and their experiences once inside America.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Willow Leaf, Maple Leaf: A Novel of Immigration Blues by David Ke: An illegal immigrant living in Canada is conflicted with assimilating in to modern culture and leaving behind tradition in China.

Crossing into America: The New Literature of Immigration by Louis Mendoza & S. Shankar: Poems, fiction and memoirs of immigration from a variety of locations.

I Might Get Somewhere: Oral Histories of Immigration and Migration by Students of Balboa High School: An anthology of more than 100 stories of immigration to the US gathered and edited by students from Balboa High School in San Francisco.

Name: Michael Ann

Heaven’s Coast

April 7, 2010

Title: Heaven’s Coast

Author: Mark Doty

Genre: Non-fiction

Publication Date: 1997

Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Provincetown, Massachusetts

Summary:  Heaven’s Coast is Mark Doty’s memoir of his life with his partner, Wally Roberts.  It spans from the time that he meets Roberts until his untimely death due to AIDS.  When they first meet, both men are unaware of Roberts’ affliction and it’s not until the two fall in love and decide to share their life that the discovery is made.  Doty, already a published poet, documents his meeting partner, their discovery of his HIV infection, the slow deterioration of Wally’s body, and his eventual passing and Doty’s reflection after he’s gone.

Subject Headings: AIDS/HIV, AIDS patients, Memoir, LGBT, and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Autobiography, Medical Memoir, Non-Fiction

Appeal: Bittersweet, longing, soulful, romantic, character driven, first person narrative, sorrowful, survival, enduring, medium-paced, gay characters, universal to the human condition, mournful, hope for the future, introspective tone and main character and descriptive.

3 terms that best describe this book: Affecting, bittersweet, and unforgettable


  1. A Keeper of Sheep by William Carpenter (AIDS patients, caretaker, familial relationships, patience, Massachusetts)
  2. The Gifts of the Body by Rebecca Brown (AIDS/HIV patients, caregiver, patience, terminally ill, homosexual relationships, hospice care)
  3. At Risk by Alice Hoffman (AIDS/HIV patient, familial relationships, resilience)


  1. The Hurry-up Song: A Memoir of Losing My Brother by Clifford Chase (AIDS patients, familial relationships, homosexuality, memoir, feelings of loss and longing)
  2. Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, A Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom (death and dying, familial relationships, terminal illness, friendship, bittersweet)
  3. Love Undetectable: Notes on Friendship, Sex and Survival by Andrew Sullivan (AIDS/HIV, empowerment, emotional survival, homosexuality, LGBT)

Posted by Jill

Breakfast on Pluto

June 24, 2009

Author: Patrick McCabe

Title: Breakfast on Pluto

Genre: Gay/Lesbian Fiction

Publication Date: 1998

Pages: 199

Geographic Setting: Tyreelin, Ireland; London, England

Time Period: 1970s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Patrick “Pussy” Braden—a small-town Irish transvestite prostitute—offers up her story in this short novel.  Writing for her elusive psychiatrist, Pussy details everything from her conception between a parish priest and his maid to her days working the streets of London as a call girl.  In between, she is abandoned on a doorstep and raised in a foster home, deals with some shady (and dangerous) clients, watches her friends get caught up in the IRA during the Troubles, and even gets mistaken for a bomber, herself.  With her pop tunes, silk skirts, and tirelessly optimistic attitude ever present, Pussy’s vignettes from her life are simultaneously humorous, poignant, and tragic.  Booker Prize Finalist.

Subject Headings: transvestites, prostitutes, the Troubles, Ireland, foster children, Irish Republican Army

Appeal: first person narrative, episodic, character-centered, issue-oriented, details of pop music of the era, dramatic, flamboyant, humorous, optimistic, playful, sarcastic, colorful, eccentric, flashbacks

Three terms that best describe this book: flamboyant, tragic yet optimistic, episodic

Relevant Fiction:

Hello Darling, Are You Working? By Rupert Everett—described as “Candide in modern drag” (Kirkus); bisexual Englishman in Paris; humorous, but set amid a grim realistic 1980s background.

1972 by Morgan Llewelyn—part of the author’s “Irish Independence Series” set during the tumult of the 1970s; character-driven; fictionalized account of the events leading up to Bloody Sunday in Derry.

Reading in the Dark by Seamus Deane—coming of age 1940s-1950s Northern Ireland; lavish language; family secrets; haunting, but with comic relief; awards attention.

Relevant Nonfiction:

I Am Not Myself These Days: A Memoir by Josh Kilmer-Purcell—darkly funny; an advertising executive turned transvestite and his nearly storybook, sweet romance with a male prostitute; entertaining and heartfelt tale of his downward spiral.

The Irish Story: Telling Tales and Making It Up in Ireland by R.F. Foster—Irish historian takes an incisive and fun look back at revisionism and formulas in Irish history and literature.

Hope Against History: The Course of Conflict in Northern Ireland by Jack Holland—written by a Belfast journalist and told in a fair, straightforward manner, this book details the Irish conflict from the late 1960s to the late 1990s up to the Good Friday Agreement.

Name:  Elizabeth Ludemann

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

April 15, 2009

Chronicle of a Death Foretold

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Title: Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Genre: Latin American/Colombian fiction, literary fiction
Publication Date: 1981, 1982 (translation)
Geographic Setting:Colombia
Time Period: Modern; Early 20th Century
Series: N/A
A man returns to the town that a brutal murder occurred 27 years earlier in order to get to the bottom of it. If everyone knew Angela Vicario’s twin brothers were going to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring her, why did no one stop it? The more the story unfolds, the less is understood and at the end not only are the two murderers put on trial, but also the entire society.
Subject HeadingsDeath–Fiction; Honor–Fiction; Murder–Fiction; Revenge–Fiction; Colombia–Fiction
Appeal Terms:first person narrative, honor, revenge, murder, depictions of Colombian life, male/female relations, family relations, culture clashes, marriage, Colombian society, violence, flashbacks, violence, justice
Red Flags: violence against women, graphic murder, blood and guts, strong language
Read Alikes:
A tale of the dispossessed by Laura Restrepo: (depictions of Colombian life, violence, male/female relations, Colombian society)
The Thief and the Dogs by Naguib Mahfouz: (violence, murder, justice, revenge)
Hamlet by William Shakespeare: (revenge, murder, family relations, justice)
Columbia by Sarah Woods: A Bradt travel guide about the people and culture of Colombia.
Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World’s Greatest Outlaw by Mark Bowden: The rise and fall of real life Colombian cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and how his network of terror kept the entire country hostage.
Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family by Karen Tintori: “But Josie had a sister that nobody spoke of. Her name was Frances, and at age sixteen, she fell in love with a young barber. Her father wanted her to marry an older don in the neighborhood mafia–a marriage that would give his sons a leg up in the mob. But Frances eloped with her barber. And when she returned a married woman, her father and brothers killed her for it. Her family then erased her from its collective memory. Even 80 years and two generations later, Frances and her death were not spoken of, her name was erased from the family genealogy, her pictures burned, and her memory suppressed.”
Name: Michelle B