Posts Tagged ‘retrospective’

The Boys on the Rock

April 11, 2012

Author: John Fox

Title: The Boys on the Rock

Genre: LGBT

Publication Date: 1984

Number of Pages: 146p.

Geographical Setting: Bronx, N.Y.

Time Period: 1968

Series (If applicable): n/a

Plot Summary: It’s 1968 in the Bronx and Catholic High School sophomore, swim team star, and narrator Billy Connor is gay and knows it and likes it.  Unfortunately, he has only been able to explore his sexuality in very frequent, detailed, creative, and enthusiastic masturbation sessions that the reader will come to know very well.  Billy, not wanting to be drafted and sent to Vietnam, is a Gene McCarthy supporter who meets Al, the head of the local McCarthy campaign office.  Canvassing soon leads to lingering dinners at a pizzeria, which leads to making out, which of course leads to the sex that Billy has longed for.  Billy is very talented in graphic and detailed accounts of his and Al’s lovemaking, leaving not a thing to the reader’s imagination.  While Billy feels newly free and empowered by his relationship with Al, is it really love?  And is it a love that will last?  With the tumultuous Democratic presidential primary and a colorful cast of neighborhood friends and eccentrics as a constant backdrop, Billy brings the reader along for the first few baby steps he will take onto the path that will lead him to the man he will become.

Subject Headings: Coming of age stories, Gay teenagers, Eroticism, U.S. history–1968, Presidential elections–1968, First love, Homosexuality, Graphic sex–homosexual, Graphic sex–heterosexual, Political assassination, Gene McCarthy, Bobby Kennedy, Bronx, Competitive swimming, Catholic school, Homophobia, Nostalgia, Masturbation.

Appeal: Quick-paced, bittersweet, candid, passionate, adolescent, horny, dramatic, edgy, sexual, graphic, gritty, impassioned, nostalgic, naive, sensual, romantic, unpretentious, foul-mouthed, colorful, unrelenting, rebellious, melancholy, vivid, sexually explicit, steamy, issue-oriented, introspective, retrospective, political, historical detail, urban, colloquial, dialect, direct, unaffected, hormonal, empowering, gay, sweaty, messy, intimate, personal discovery, sexual discovery.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: adolescent, gritty, sexually explicit.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Joy of Sex: The Ultimate Revised Edition by Alex Comfort

The Joy of Gay Sex, Revised & Expanded by Charles Silverstein and Felice Picano

The Joy of Lesbian Sex: A Tender and Liberated Guide to the Pleasures and Problems of a Lesbian Lifestyle by Dr. Emily L. Sisley and Bertha Harris

Yes, I know three books are not one book, but I feel I must evoke an “apples and oranges” (and “pears”[?]) exception in this case.  For people that may find appeal in any of these works, two titles will be completely useless (sort of) to them.  And the goal is to be able to satisfy 100% of readers, yes?

There is so much graphic sex and language in Boys that it would seem almost impossible that a reader wouldn’t take some stock of their own romantic life at some point.  These seminal, highly respected, and somewhat clinical works are certainly the “safe” and “tasteful” (yet graphically illustrated) suggestions that could be a stepping off point for a reader who may want to explore better or newer ways in which to get their freak on.

Time 1968: War Abroad, Riots at Home, Fallen Leaders and Lunar Dreams

The United States +1968= CRAZY: MLK shot, RFK shot, protests, race riots, political riots, cities on fire, Vietnam, Tet Offensive, Chicago Democratic Convention (police beatings and rioting and the MC5, for those too young), drugs, sex, rock and roll, men on the moon—and those are just the headlines.

While the rebellion, protest, and awakening of Billy’s 1968 took place mostly in his head and underwear, there is much happening around him that will inform a bevvy of decisions, political and not.  Here is an overview of that year with lots of color pictures.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

One year later from Billy’s awakening, the gay community of Greenwich Village rose up against police harassment to spark the beginning of the gay rights movement.  I can vividly picture Billy chanting slogans and punching cops in the face.  Here is a timeline of the events leading up to, and the riots themselves, as well as the aftermath.  This comprehensive account is the result of hundreds of interviews, public and sealed files, and a decade of research.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Forever by Judy Blume

If one took a plot synopsis of Boys and replaced the Bronx with a woodsy, well-to-do suburb, and weekends of beer in the park with ski trips, and animalistic gay sex with meticulously thought-out hetero sex, and Billy with a Katherine, and a cowardly Al with an impossibly sensitive Michael and then washed everyone’s mouths out with soap, one would be left holding a copy of Forever. Had those who have taken the often challenged Forever (ALA 7th all-time) to trial had known that Boys may have been right around the corner, I shudder to think at the number of libraries that may have burned.  While certainly trying to please entirely different audiences, these two books are identical thematically, giving Forever large appeal to the reader who may have picked up Boys hoping for a sentimental tale of teenage sexual awakening, but just not as sticky.

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

Luckily for the high-school kids that populate Boy Meets Boy, Levithan has created a bizarro-world town where there is no prejudice of any sort, especially sexual.  This bodes well for a school that features a Harley riding cheerleading squad and a cross-dressing star quarterback/Homecoming Queen.  The book centers on Paul, who thinks he finally may have found true love in Noah.  Simultaneously uplifting and heartbreaking, Levithan brilliantly illustrates that freed of the burden of prejudice, hatred, and ignorance these are just kids, whatever their sexual orientation, awkwardly trying to find their place in the world and maybe a little happiness, too.

Best Lesbian Erotica 2011 by D.L. King, Giselle Renarde, Kathleen Warnock and Kirsty Logan

Best Gay Erotica 2011 by Johnny Murdoc, Natty Soltesz, and Rob Wolfsham

Sweet Confessions: Erotic Fantasies for Couples by Violet Blue

Again, I must use the “apples and oranges” rule exception.  For any reader of Boys that enjoyed the very detailed and descriptive sex scenes, here you go: a little something for everyone.

Name: Bill S.

World War Z

April 1, 2009

World War Z

Author: Brooks, Max
Title: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Genre: Best-seller,
Horror, Science Fiction

Publication Date: 2006
Number of Pages: 352 p.
Geographical Setting: Multiple global locations
Time Period: near future: mid- to late-21st century
Series: NA

Plot Summary: When taken piece by piece, the speculated future presented in World War Z sounds speculative at best, and like a laughable horror-movie cliché at worst. Zombies take over the world! However, the author’s chosen format and the scope and circumstances of his story create an engrossing and horrifyingly believable scenario that gives the story an overall affect of believability that makes it even more frightening. Brooks presents his story—a global epidemic of a virus that reanimates the recently dead and imbues them with a single purpose: to attack and infect the living—in a series of interviews with survivors of the zombie apocalypse. These detailed, emotional, and terrifying accounts are arranged in roughly chronological order, exploring the origin of the outbreak in rural China, tracing its spread across the planet, delving into the reactions of various governments—which range from brutally harsh plans that some see as tantamount to genocide to so fueled by denial as to have the same ultimate effect—and the different military reactions to the threat. The survival stories are not limited to the political or military, however. Also included are accounts by common citizens—a Midwestern teenager whose family flees north (zombies are slowed by cold temperatures) and discover another threat in a massive, unregulated refugee camp, a soldier who fought in several key battles across the United States, a blind hermit in Japan, a European historian who discusses how various groups used the continent’s medieval fortresses as defense. Brooks’ interview format allows him to focus on the smallest facets of his detailed characters, and the stories they tell are action-packed and rich with fascinating details of any number of topics, well beyond the physiology of zombies and the best way to survive their ceaseless attack. World War Z is much more than a zombie horror story. It is a spellbinding study in speculative history, sociology, and epidemiology, as well as a cautionary tale for today’s shrinking world.

Subject Headings: Undead; Zombies; Supernatural; Epidemics; Diseases; Post-apocalypse, Oral histories; Survival (after epidemics); War

Appeal: alternative history, apocalyptic, atmospheric, bleak, candid, character-centered, cinematic, compelling, complex, conversational, darker, detailed settings, details of military strategy, details of survival techniques, details of zombies, direct, dramatic, edgy, engaging, engrossing, episodic, explicitly violent, frightening, futuristic, jargon, journalistic, menacing atmosphere, multiple plot lines, multiple points of view, nightmare, oral history, plot-centered, political, recognizable characters, resolved ending, retrospective, speculative, speculated near-future, strong language, suspenseful, sympathetic characters, thought-provoking, tragic, unusual narrative voice, vivid, well-drawn characters

Similar Fiction Authors and Works:

· Darker Angels, S.P. Somtow. 1998. (horror, zombies, alternate history, Civil War)

· Earth Abides, George R. Stewart. 1949. (post-epidemic apocalypse, speculative “near future,” survival)

· Oryx and Crake, Margaret Attwood. 2003. (post-apocalypse, near future, genetic engineering, survival)

Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

· The Good War: An Oral History of World War II. Studs Terkel. 1984. (oral history, war stories, inspiration for World War Z)

· The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Deadliest Epidemic–and How It Changed the Way We Think about Disease, Cities, Science, and the Modern World. Steven Johnson. 2006. (epidemics, detailed study of origin and spread of cholera in urban setting, microhistory)

· False Alarm: The Truth about the Epidemic of Fear. Marc Siegel. 2005. (fear, epidemics, manipulation of public fear, propaganda)

Name: Cynthia