Posts Tagged ‘flamboyant’


April 18, 2012

Author: Various (22 authors and illustrators collaborate for 9 vignettes)


Genre: Graphic novel

Publication Date: 2010

Number of Pages: 112p

Geographical Setting: New York City (the Bowery)

Time Period: 1970’s, present day, the future

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary:  Through nine separate vignettes, the history and lore of the legendary, mythical, pivotal, incredibly dirty, and defunct Lower East Side punk rock club is examined and explained.  CBGB’s was ground zero for the mid-70’s NYC punk rock scene.  Artists that would emerge from CBGB’s include Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith, and Talking Heads, as well as lesser-known, yet highly influential acts, such as Television, the Heartbreakers, the Dead Boys, and the Dictators. Varying in time period, some of the stories use the club as a main character, while others use it merely as a backdrop or meeting place.  The common theme running throughout the book is that of CBGB’s as a fertile haven for inspiration, community, discovery, expression, freedom, individuality, and lots of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

Subject Headings: Punk rock music, New York City—nightclubs, 1970’s, Artists, Drugs and alcohol, Rebellion, Nostalgia, Nonconformity, Antisocial behavior, Self discovery, Youth, Fandom.

Appeal:  Breakneck, fast-paced, relentless, atmospheric, edgy, flamboyant, gritty, hard-edged, humorous, impassioned, magical, idealized, romanticized, nostalgic, sarcastic, sensual, artsy, bohemian, punk, vivid, inspirational, mythic, sexually explicit, strong language, urban, colorful, informal, passionate, witty, hedonistic, rebellious, reflective, street-smart, rowdy, energetic, fun, aggressive, joyous, enigmatic, self-aggrandizing, loud.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Energetic, passionate, enigmatic

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Please Kill Me: the Uncensored History of Punk edited by Legs McNeill and Gillian McCain

This is an oral history of the New York punk scene from its infancy in the early 1970’s to its slow death in the early 1980’s strung together by interviews with the people who were there and making things happen.  The people who are still alive, anyway.  Interviewees (many of whom are portrayed in CBGB) include Iggy Pop, Patti Smith, Lou Reed, and members of the Ramones, the Stooges, New York Dolls, Television, Blondie and many more artists and other scenesters.  This is a great read for fans of ribald accounts of debauchery and degeneracy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle For the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler

In the 1970’s, large Northern cities found themselves broke, decaying, crime-ridden, and desperate.  None had it worse than New York.  The tumultuous year of 1977 is examined here; a year that included Son of Sam, the Blackout, punk rock, Studio 54 and disco, and ruthless political battles.  What is the conduit Mahler uses to examine and piece these events together?  — the World Series winning Yankees, of course.

Love Goes to Buildings on Fire: Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever by Will Hermes

Sure, New York had the punk thing happening in the mid-1970’s, but during those years the city also witnessed the birth of hip-hop, disco, and salsa as well as playing host to fertile jazz and avant-garde/minimalist music scenes.  Here is an examination of those years, where the music seemed to get better as the urban blight grew worse.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

My Brain Hurts: Vol. One by Liz Baille

This graphic novel series chronicles a group of gay,teenage New York punks making out, drinking beer, getting arrested, and flexing their gay activism muscles.  I include this as there was no mention in CBGB as to how entangled the NYC punk scene was with the seedier side of gay culture on Manhattan at the time (many a near destitute musician made rent by moonlighting as “chickens”, as in a homosexual prostitute who may not necessarily be gay but will do x for money.  Dee Dee Ramone has talked extensively about this topic [see: ‘53rd and 3rd by the Ramones], as well as others).

What We Do Is Secret by Kief Hillbery

Hollywood 13-year-old punk and gay hustler Rockets Redglare must come to terms with the suicide of his idol/guru Darby Crash, lead singer of the Germs (circa 1980).  This book is the closest equivalent to the seediness and nihilism that personified the L.A. punk scene in the late 70’s and early 80’s (as far as fiction goes.)

Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

While this book is the farthest thing from the seediness that CBGB and the Lower Eastside personified, it is an excellent portrait of the feeling of freedom, possibility, and wonder that a night out in the big city can give a person as they find themselves on the cusp of adulthood and independence.  Even for rich kids from New Jersey.

Name: Bill

I Say a Little Prayer

June 23, 2010

Title: I Say a Little Prayer

Author: E. Lynn Harris

Genre: GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 320

Geographical Setting: Atlanta, GA

Time Period: Contemporary

Series: No

Plot Summary:  Chauncey Greer is the owner of a thriving greeting card company in Atlanta. He is a gay African-American man who is also deeply spiritual. While attending Abundant Joy Baptist Church, Chauncey is inspired to reconnect with his dormant singing career.  Pastor Kenneth invites Chauncey to sing at an upcoming gospel revival where Chauncey’s former secret lover (now homophobic keynote preacher) is scheduled to appear.

E. Lynn Harris was best known for his depictions of African-American men on the down low and closeted. In I Say a Little Prayer, he examines the down low practice, ostensibly heterosexual men living secret lives as gay men, and offers insight into the struggle within the black church concerning gay rights.

Subject Headings: Bisexuality, homosexuality, homophobia, identity, social acceptance, African-American churches, fundamentalism, revivals

Appeal:  Easy, fast-paced, candid, flamboyant, humorous, sexually explicit, sensual, sophisticated, urbane, unaffected, engaging, urban, contemporary

Three Words or Phrases Best Describing this Book:  Easy, urban, sexually explicit

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

Wrestling with the Angel: Faith and Religion in the Lives of Gay Men, edited by Brian Bouldrey examines the struggles of faith of 21 gay male writers, including Andrew Holleran, Lev Raphael, and Michael Nava.

One More River to Cross: Black and Gay in America by Keith Boykin includes interviews with ministers, gay political leaders, and African American lesbians and gay men to explain misconceptions about gay racism and African American homophobia.

J.L. King, an HIV/STD prevention activist and educator, was one of the first to write about the contemporary phenomena of living on the down low.  In 2003, King’s On the Down Low: a Journey into the Lives of ‘Straight’ Black Men Who Sleep with Gay Men, depicted this “reckless behavior.” It was believed to have caused African-American women to constitute 68 percent of new HIV cases.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

In Michael Ford Thomas’ Last Summer, the protagonist Josh Felling departs for the beaches of Provincetown where he encounters a cast of humorous characters including flamboyant drag queen Emmeline, Hollywood heartthrob Ty Rusk, and wealthy Reilly Brennan.

In the sophisticated novel The Conversion by Joseph Olshan, Russell Todaro, a young American translator and writer, is caught up in two separate affairs — the first, a passionate but doomed romance, and a second with a much older and sensual poet.

Gay Love Stories by Kimberly Burton involve urban characters who seek love and romance, and ultimately lasting relationships.

Jane Bessette

Barrel Fever

April 21, 2010

Author:  David Sedaris

TitleBarrel Fever

Genre:  Nonfiction, GLBTQ

Publication Date:  1994

Number of Pages: 196

Geographical Setting: Many different locations: from the Santa land at Macy’s to a young girl’s funeral

Time Period:  A range of time periods, but predominantly between the 1970s up to the early 1990s

Plot Summary: In Sedaris’s first published novel, he collects a group of short stories and essays that embody his unusual dead-pan wit and satirical look at the world.  From the story of a man who is loved too much by his celebrity boyfriends (such manly figures as Bruce Springsteen, Charlton Heston, and Mike Tyson) to a girl who attempts to cause the deaths of her ex-boyfriend and former best friend by committing suicide and leaving a scathing letter to be read (and possibly incite violence) at her funeral, Sedaris has a writing style not for the faint of heart.  Sedaris plays off of traditional societal norms and turns them on their head; for example, he has a mother practically confess to infanticide through her annual Christmas card family update.  He explores the question we all wonder at Christmas: how can some people be so upbeat (or use so many exclamation points) when giving truly terrible news? Sedaris pleasures in turning conventional stories into something the reader would never expect, and does not shy away from taboo subjects like homosexuality, sex, murder, suicide, religion, and erotic fantasy.  The book culminates in one of Sedaris’s most recognizable essays, The Santaland Diaries, chronicling his stint as a Macy’s Christmas elf.  Never ashamed of who he is and what he has to say, Sedaris’s frank tone and matter-of-fact writing lend to the overall theme of the collection: nothing is sacred, and everything is better when you throw in something completely unexpected.

Subject Headings:  Humor Writing — General; Essays; Short stories, American — 20th century

Appeal: engrossing, fast-paced, compelling, eccentric, engaging, evocative, well-developed, vivid, episodic, racy, romp, sexually explicit, steamy, urban, edgy, flamboyant, humorous, sophisticated, colorful, direct, concise, showy, smart, unusual, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: Dead-pan wit, satire on cultural norms, humorous

Similar Authors and Works:


Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs, by Chuck Klosterman: For a pop-culture aficionado who enjoys Sedaris’s cutting humor, Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs offers a collection of essays examining some of the important issues in life, including MTV’s The Real World, Pamela Anderson, and how John Cusack ruined relationships for an entire generation.

Magical Thinking: True Stories, by Augusten Borroughs: A collection of short essays that tell the story of Borroughs’s unconventional childhood and grown-up experiences through the lens of humor and self-deprecation.  Those who enjoy the personal moments of Sedaris’s short essays will appreciate the insight into this quirky author’s life.

A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, by Dave Eggers: For a more serious and stripped-down look at how even the most unconventional of families shapes who you are, Eggers provides a memoir that is both funny and emotional.


The Diaries of Adam and Eve, by Mark Twain: Twain takes a satirical look into the lives of the first man and woman through his mock diary of their experience on Earth.  A more serious-toned novel for Twain, those who enjoy Sedaris’s irreverent look into controversial subjects will like Twain’s take on the relationship between the scientific Eve and the less-intelligent Adam.

A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving: Quirky characters and questioning a life guided by fate characterize Irving’s novel.  Readers who appreciate Sedaris’s ability to create engaging, unusual characters and meaningful interactions will find the same themes in Irving’s work.

The Extra Man, by Jonathan Ames: Exploring some of the more taboo subjects, such as cross-dressing and the transvestite culture in New York City, Ames creates a novel with colorful characters who explore sexuality and romance in a funny and witty way.

More Information than You Require

April 14, 2010

Author:  John Hodgman

TitleMore Information than You Require

Genre:  Nonfiction; Audio book

Publication Date:  2009

Running Time:  12hrs., 45 min.

Geographical Setting: Hodgman’s mind

Time Period:  Current Day

Series:  Not officially, but a continuation of Hodgman’s first book, The Areas of My Expertise

Plot Summary:  What do you get when you cross a book of mostly-untrue facts, witty insights into family life, and the dry humor of a minor television personality (the “PC guy” from the Apple commercials)? This question sums up More Information than You Require. Hodgman’s newest book is a follow-up to the complete world knowledge found in his first book, The Areas of My Expertise. Because, as we all know, and as Hodgman tells us, complete world knowledge cannot be contained in one book; it is a living thing that must be consistently chronicled.

This irreverent book of knowledge is comprised of made-up facts, useless trivia, and insights into the mole-men who still live among us. Hodgman’s book does not tell a story; instead, it is more along the lines of a running satire of an almanac—as you follow along with Hodgman’s logic, you find yourself believing such silly facts, like Napoleon was the first man on the moon or that a certain United States president wore a necklace of skulls.  Tempered with vignettes about Hodgman’s actual life (which are often sweet and funnier than the made-up facts), More Information than You Require is a fun and funny book to enjoy when you need a light-hearted look at the world around us.

As an audio book: Reading the physical book and listening to the audio book are two completely different experiences for More Information than You Require. The physical book contains charts, graphs, pictures, and unique word styles to create the satirical almanac feel. However, the audio book experience is more like listening to a twelve-hour long podcast: Hodgman is reading, but also has friends come to play music, mix drinks, and generally have a good time. With an opening by Paul Rudd, musical talents of the “feral mountain man” (as Hodgman likes to call him) Jonathan Coulton (who, as all good YouTube watchers know, created such sensations as “Code Monkey”), Ricky Gervais, Ira Glass, Rachel Maddow, Sarah Vowell, and Zach Galifianakis. Hodgman’s NPR roots show with the audio book, as at times the listener feels like he/she is on an episode of Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, or in the variety show A Prairie Home Companion. Whether Rachel Maddow is making turn-of-the-century French cocktails (with Red Bull and absinthe, of course) or Coulton is creating jingles for dog food, this audio book is for the listener who needs a lot of different types of stimulation when experiencing a book.

Subject Headings:  Humor writing—general, American humor

Appeal: deliberate, easy, leisurely-paced, eccentric, engaging, quirky, character-centered, folksy, episodic, contemporary, edgy, flamboyant, humorous, playful, sarcastic, upbeat, chatty, conversational, elaborate, engaging, flamboyant, journalistic, sophisticated, unusual, vivid, witty

3 terms that best describe this book: satirical, witty, quirky

Similar Authors and Works:


The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell: What better way to learn about the history of the Puritans than through the witty, dry humor of Sarah Vowell? Readers who enjoy Hodgman’s tone and the historical aspects of his book will love Vowell’s thorough and insightful look into this aspect of the American past.

America (The Book), by Jon Stewart: Another take on American history, Stewart creates a “textbook” of sorts to provide witty and sarcastic insight into the more ridiculous aspects of our past. Readers who enjoy the unique format and tone of Hodgman’s book will find Stewart’s work in the same tradition.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris: Cheeky insights into American life coupled with witty writing makes Sedaris a good companion to Hodgman’s work. The short story format will satisfy the less focused readers, and the sarcastic humor will keep the reader engaged.


Postcards from the Edge, by Carrie Fisher: The frank and sarcastic tone that Fisher takes with her novel compliments the tone created by Hodgman. Although dealing with far deeper issues, Fisher’s witty insights into life behind the rehab walls keeps this pseudo-memoir from becoming morose and instead creates a world where we can all laugh and cry at our own addictions.

A Model World and Other Stories, by Michael Chabon: The short story format along with the ironic and humorous tone makes Chabon an excellent compliment to Hodgman. Readers who want something a little more understated with the same type of tone will enjoy Chabon’s collection.

High Fidelity, by Nick Hornby: The readers who enjoy the pop culture aspect of Hodgman’s work will enjoy Hornby’s humorous tale of the owner of a failing record store.

His Majesty’s Dragon

September 30, 2009

His Majesty’s Dragon

September 30, 2009 by Christine Edison

Author: Naomi Novik

Title: His Majesty’s Dragon

Genre: Historical Fantasy

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 264

Geographical Setting: Great Britain

Time Period: 19th Century, Napoleonic Wars

Series: Temeraire

Plot summary: Captain Lawrence and his crew capture a French frigate carrying a precious cargo: a dragon’s egg. Before they can bring it to land, it hatches, and the dragon chooses to bond with Lawrence as his master. (Lawrence names him Temeraire after a British warship.) Lawrence must therefore leave the Navy and become an aviator, which ruffles the feathers of his admiral, his family, and the Royal Flying Corps – but he is a man of honor and soldiers through. Lawrence and Temeraire travel to Scotland for battle training and are eventually sent to Dover to defend the English Channel against French invaders. He also begins a casual romantic relationship with one of the female pilots in the Corps.

Appeal: densely written, engrossing, authentic, detailed characterizations, intriguing secondary (characters), well drawn, character-centered, complex, plot twists, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, detailed setting, details of seamanship and dragon air corps life, evocative, exotic, historical details, complex, elaborate, elegant, extravagant, flamboyant, ornate, polished, restrained, seemly, sophisticated, unusual.

Subject headings:

Novik, Naomi
Science Fiction – Alternative History

Alternative histories (Fiction)
Fiction / Fantasy / HistoricalFantasy – Epic

Napoleonic Wars, 1800-1815
Ship captains
Fantasy romance

3 terms that best describe the book: Historical details, evocative, sophisticated

Three relevant nonfiction authors and similar works:

Patrick O’Brian’s Navy by Richard Neill gives a vivid picture of what life was like for British sailors of different ranks serving on tall ships during the Napoleonic Wars. This compendium is a companion to the Aubrey-Maturin series listed below, which is based on a British Naval officer serving during this time period.

Historical Dictionary of the Napoleonic Era by George F. Nafziger is a review of political, military and popular historical figures, as well as artistic movements, cultural and theological events during the Napoleonic Era, 1789-1815. Novik refers to historical events at times in the Temeraire series, particularly in regards to Napoleon and what was happening elsewhere in Europe, and this book could help fill in gaps for readers eager to learn more about the period.

The Dragon in China and Japan by Marinus Willem de Visser explores numerous stories of dragons in Chinese and Japanese culture in this revised text with a new introduction by cryptozoologist Loren Coleman. Temeraire the dragon’s background in China is discussed in His Majesty’s Dragon (with more to follow in the second book, Throne of Jade), and the dragon receives a book of stories about Asian dragons during the course of the story, which he asks Captain Lawrence to read to him again and again.

Three Fiction Titles:

The Hornblower saga by C.S. Forester, The Ramage series by Dudley Pope, and The Aubrey Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian are all well-known action-adventure series set on the high seas in British tall ships during the Napoleonic era. The Temeraire series features battle scenes as well as shipboard life scenes much like those seen in these books.

Persuasion by Jane Austen includes many discussions of the British Navy and shows the women’s side of life at this time. Naval officers are featured as characters, and there are discussions as to what a woman’s proper place is when he husband is to go to sea, a theme taken up in the Temeraire series, where women are part of the Air Corps.

The Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey features humans riding fire-breathing dragons to burn away threads that would otherwise kill off all life on the planet of Pern. Scenes of humans tending their dragon charges and bonding with them are much like what happens in His Majesty’s Dragon.

Annotation By: Christine Edison

Tags: densely written, engrossing, detailed characterizations, intriguing secondary (characters), well drawn, character-centered, complex, plot twists, resolved ending, thought-provoking, bittersweet, detailed setting, details of seamanship and dragon air corps life, evocative, exotic, historical details, complex, elaborate, elegant, extravagant, flamboyant, ornate, polished, restrained, seemly, sophisticated, unusual.

Posted in Fantasy

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