Posts Tagged ‘Shocking’

King Leopold’s Ghost

November 6, 2012

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa By: Adam HochschildAuthor: Hochschild, Adam

 Title: King Leopold’s Ghost

 Genre: Nonfiction

 Publication Date: 1998

 Number of Pages: 366

 Geographical Setting: Europe and Africa

 Time Period:  1500’s -1800’s

 Series: N/A

 

Plot Summary: When the egocentric Belgian king Leopold II meets writer, explorer and businessman Henry Morton Stanley in 1871, result is disastrous and with deep consequences. Their common plans and collaboration begin the story of the biggest genocide of the 19th century, which has been forgotten too early, is too shameful for modern Western Europeans, and is not studied enough. King Leopold’s dream of owning his own colony in Africa is the perfect fulfillment for a megalomaniac who seeks land nearly seventy-six times bigger then his own country. Ironically, because of his reputation as a modern philanthropist and humanitarian, he colonized the Congo in 1880’s with help of Henry Morton Stanley, and all this without ever visiting Africa. Congo became his territory of exploration after looking for years for land that he could rule from distant Europe. Under the guise of civilizing the Congo’s people, he tortured, killed and ordained its inhabitants into forced labor and modern slavery. His brutal regime killed thousands. Because of travelers, missionaries, and a few individuals who witnessed Leopold’s tyranny, and their efforts to expose this genocide, they initiated the first human right movement of twentieth century. Hochschild’s book is one of the best researched documents of the cruel history of European colonization in nineteenth century Africa.

 Subject Headings: Congo, Africa, 19th and 20th century history, Colonization, Europe, Slavery, Forced Labor, Human rights movements, Belgium.

 Appeal: intense; 19th century genocide; destructive egocentrism; informative and significant part of the history; detailed research of colonial times; unknown Western European history; densely written; engrossing; violent portray of forced labor and modern slavery; tragic.

 Three Terms for Book: deeply researched, shocking tragedy, and chilling reminder of a forgotten history.

 

Relevant Nonfiction Works and Authors:

  1. Jeal,      Tim, Stanley: the Impossible Life of      Africa’s Greatest Explorer –       new perspective supported by newly opened family archives on the      writer and imperialist who first explored and ruled Africa’s Congo,      together with King Leopold of Belgium. Sharp and detailed new biography      portraying Henry Morton Stanley as an undervalued explorer.
  2. Pakenham,      Thomas, The Scramble for Africa: the      White Man’s Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876-1912 – an      excellent study of the colonization and partition of African territory in      the 1800s between six European rulers: Belgium,      Britain, France, Germany,      Italy and Portugal.
  3. Vanthemsche,      Guy, Belgium and the Congo      1885-1980 – a rare overview on the effects of colonialism in Africa and in its mother country.  Also addresses Belgium’s diplomacy and      politics, in addition to providing a better understanding of both      countries pasts.

 

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

 

  1. Sienkiewicz,      Henryk, In Desert and Wilderness      – written around a hundred years ago, the book is about two European      children, the kids of diplomats living in 1900’s Egypt.      It’s an adventurous, compelling story by a Nobel Prize winner that takes      us back in colonial times, often with stereotypical points of view from a      century ago; however, the characters are of strong moral and ethical      principles.
  2. Galbraith,      Douglas, The Rising Sun – in      this work of Historical Fiction, the author explores an expedition of      Scottish ships sent to establish a colony in Central America, later known      as Panama.      Vivid, descriptive, and adventurous.
  3. Kingsolver,      Barbara, The Poisonwood Bible – an      evangelical Baptist missionary from Georgia      brings his wife and four daughters to live in the Belgian       Congo in 1959. An insightful and compassionate view of the      lives of both white and indigenous cultures in the heart of Africa.

 

 

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Mama Black Widow

August 15, 2012

Author:  Iceberg Slim

Title: Mama Black Widow: A Novel

Genre: African-American, Urban Lit, GLBTQ

Publisher/Publication Date:  Old School Books, 1998

Number of Pages:  240

Geographical Setting:  Southside Chicago

Time Period:  1930s-1970s

Plot Summary:  Mama Black Widow tells the tragic tale of Otis Tilson, a 40-year-old gay drag queen living on Chicago’s south side during the racially turbulent 70s.  Much of the novel is told in a realistic way by Otis about how his family moved to Chicago from the south in the 1930s, and the hard times they had to endure from then on.  Most of the novel is spent examining Otis’s mother “mama,” a vile, manipulative, downright evil woman who basically destroys every member of the Tilson family.  She drives her husband away, coerced one of her daughters into prostitution, and a lot of innocent people suffer greatly by her hands.  The author of this novel, Iceberg Slim (former pimp) writes in a way that is both shocking and insightful.  The language is often blunt, candid, and very, very offensive.  Sex scenes are described in explicit detail, and tone often changes from jovial to deadly serious.  Issues such as integration, trade unions, Chicago’s underground gay scene, police brutality, and hatred for the white man are discussed at length throughout the novel.  Slim even admits in the introduction that he is not the greatest writer, but he writes for the common people, and “tells it like it is.”

Subject Headings: Chicago (Southside)–Police (Brutality)–House of Corrections–Plantations–Trade Unions–Black Power–Bars (Gay)–Drag Queens–Cross-dressing–GLBTQ–Pimps–Drugs–Guns–Prostitution–Religion–False Preachers–Sex–Erotica–Rape–Pedophiles–Martin Luther King, Jr.–Street Cars–The El

Appeal: Realistic, Shocking, Character-Driven, Blunt, Candid, Erotic, Frantic, Intense, Dramatic, Serious, Political, Steamy, Graphic, Comical, Gut-Wrenching, Tragic, Sad, GLBTQ, Sexy

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Steamy, Graphic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Soul on Ice, Eldridge Cleaver

This non-fiction memoir by Eldridge Cleaver will appeal to Iceberg Slim fans for its ability to shock, outrage, and question the readers’ ideas of what it means to be black in America.  His memoir is both sincere, raw, and very engaging.  He says at one point, “I’m perfectly aware that I’m in prison, that I’ve been a rapist, and that I have a higher Uneducation.”  Cleaver made indeed be too offensive to some, but he always savagely honest.  He tells the truth and he knows it.

Manchild in the Promised Land, Claude Brown

Claude Brown is a young, streetwise criminal growing up in Harlem in the 1940s and 50s.  This novel does an excellent job of describing northern black ghettos in New York in a turbulent, thrilling way.  Everything from pimps, drugs, street vendors, local shop owners, police brutality, gangs, sex and violence, and the gay underground are discussed in this book.  This book is however, quite inspiring and affirmative because Claude Brown is one of the lucky few who “made it” in this brutal world.

Out and Proud in Chicago: An Overview of the City’s Gay Community,  Tracy Baim

This handy reference book guides the reader through Chicago’s long and rich history of the gay community.  Those interested in Slim’s descriptive scenes of obscure bars and drag clubs will enjoy the multiple photographs presented within these pages (both in color and black & white).  The book draws on many scholarly, historical, and journalistic sources and covers time periods from pre- WWI to WWII-1960s, and 1970s to the present day.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blow Your Mind, Eric Pete

The description of the book reads,”In this erotic novel of sex and revenge, Eric Pete takes the consequences of dark sexual fantasies one step further.”  This story is about Tanner Coleman, his wife Bianca, and her wild sister, pumpkin.  When a man named Henry shows up and blackmailed Tanner, their lives are changed forever in a truly twisted way.  Not for the squeamish, this hardcore erotic, steamy, violent novel will appeal to Slim fans for its challenging dialogue, absurd situations, and the pessimistic world view that “we all die, and it will probably be sooner rather than later.”  Very popular!

Drag Queen, Robert Rodi

Considering the titles mentioned above, Rodi’s novel Drag Queen is a bit more light-hearted and comical, but also very engaging.  One review describes it as “The Parent Trap meets Priscilla, Queen of the Dessert.”  Gay attorney Mitchell Sayer has just found out from his mother that he has an identical twin, who happens to live not far from him in Northern Chicago.  The thing is, Mitchell’s brother is now named “Kitten Kaboodle,” gown-wearing, stillet0 strutting star of Tam-Tam’s “All-girl” review.  Furious, Mitchell tries to force Kitten into “the real world,” but Kitten feels she has a few lessons to teach as well.  Comical, insightful, and full of the Chicago landmarks Slim famously paints throughout his books.

Last Exit to Brooklyn, Hubert Selby, Jr.

This graphic, brutally raw novel of characters living in Brooklyn during the 60s and 70s examines the anger and rage of many diverse individuals in a time where justice seemed non-existent.  Considered a classic of modern American writing, this book, as Slim would describe it, “tells it like it is.”  There are crooks, hoodlums, pimps, prostitutes, drag queens, gay men and women, police riots, and strikes galore.  Gritty and serious, blunt and brutally honest.  Truly essential.

Stuck Rubber Baby

August 8, 2012

Author:  Howard Cruse

Title: Stuck Rubber Baby

Genre: Historical Fiction. Gay Fiction. Graphic Novel

Publisher/Publication Date:  DC Comics, 2010

Number of Pages:  210  (Black & White)

Geographical Setting: The fictional city of Clayfield, in the American South

Time Period:  Late 1950s, early 1960s

Plot Summary:  This is the story of Toland, a homosexual man coming to terms with his sexuality in a time when even greater tensions were being explored in the American deep south, that is, African-American civil rights.  Toland is a complex, apathetic man who is desperately trying to be “normal” by saying that his gay thoughts are “just a phase” and by dating a political activist woman named Ginger.  Toland’s world explores the horrifying issues of the time through intense dialogue, disturbing images, and hateful language expressed by the KKK and the more subtle racism of his family members.  Drawn in a realistic, riveting style, Howard Cruse does a fantastic job of creating a city that the reader can instantly recognize as being in the south, yet is entirely fictional.  Indeed, the entire graphic novel reads as if it were an autobiography of sorts.  Still, despite the complex issues being discussed, the novel finds time to enlighten the reader with jazz and blues facts of the time, contains humor, and is very candid and not didactic when discussing sexual issues.

Subject Headings:  Civil Rights–American South–Inter-racial Relationships–Homosexual Issues–Jim Crow Laws–KKK–Politics–Adoption–Abortion–Lynchings–Jazz–Blues–Gay Bars–Drag Queens–Hammond Organs–Religion–Atheism–Alcoholism

Appeal: Striking, Realistic, Brutal, Warm, Angry, Sympathetic, Complex, Political, Violent, Insightful, Serious, Sad, Soulful, Grim, Candid, Blunt, Intense, Dramatic

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Serious, Candid, Realistic

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Fun Home.  Alison Bechdel

This graphic novel is the memoir of Alison Bechdel, popular GLBT author of the comic Dykes to Watch out For.  One can tell Bechdel is a fan of Cruse’s work (she admits so in the introduction to Stuck Rubber Baby), and her style is similar in that her story is reflective, redemptive, and very moving.  Fun Home is the story of Alison coming to terms with her father admitting he is homosexual as well late in his life.  The story is complex, but it is also humorous at times, and very compelling in tone.  A must in GLBT graphic novels, and literature in general.

Heroes of Blues, Jazz, and Country.  Robert Crumb

Those who have read Stuck Rubber Baby will inevitably notice Cruse’s devotion to two things: drawing everything in pain-staking detail, and his obsession with the history of Jazz and Rhythm and Blues music.  Robert Crumb’s drawings have always been drawn in a realistic style as well, and this graphic novel is a fun history of said musicians that many people may not be aware of.  Bios of the musicians are provided as well, along with full color photographs.

Juicy Mother: Celebration.  Jennifer Camper

This collection of  GLBT stories describes itself as “an alternative-to-alternative comics.”  What is most intriguing about this graphic novel is that every contributor is either GLBT, or a person of color.  The stories range for the serious to the silly, including such stories as an Arab Muslim lesbian searching for her identity to a Latina teen’s goofy encounter with aliens.  Both touching and bizarre, comical and insightful, there is a story in this collection that will appeal to all readers!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Strangers in Paradise Pocket Book, Vol. 1.  Terry Moore

Katchoo is a beautiful young woman who is in love with her best friend, Francine.  Then along comes David, who Katchoo falls in love with as well.  What results in a complicated love triangle this is both complex and amusing.  Though not as serious as Cruse’s work, readers will love getting to know these sympathetic characters as the develop and change over time.  And, just when everything seems to be going well, the mob decides to but in!  Truly interesting and leisurely paced like Cruse’s work.

A Single Man.  Christopher Isherwood

Stuck Rubber Baby is told in a flashback format from Toland’s point of view, reminiscing about growing up gay in the American South.  Though this fictional work takes place is a different part of the country, Isherwood’s protagonist George is sympathetic, nice, gay, and leads a surprisingly poignant, yet sad life.  After the death of his partner, George must learn to survive in a world where he a complete outsider, both internally and externally.  Comical and very wry, this examination of what it means to be homosexual in the modern world is incredibly moving.

Tales of the City (#1)  Armistead Maupin

These are the tales of the many denizens of 28 Barbary Lane, some straight, some not, but always hilarious, intricate, and fun.  This is the latest incarnation of the popular serial that later became a popular television event.  The tone is indeed a lot different from Cruse’s work, but the humor and attention to realistic details and colorful characters is there.  Striking and bold, witty and quite entertaining.

 

John Dies @ the End

August 1, 2012

Author:  David Wong

Title: John Dies @ the End

Genre: Horror

Publisher/Publication Date:  Thomas Dunne Books, New York. 2009

Number of Pages:  377

Geographical Setting:  “Undisclosed Location” in Midwest, United States of America

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  First two books of Web-Published novel

Plot Summary:  “Watch out for Molly.  See if she does anything unusual.  There’s something I don’t trust about the way she exploded and then came back from the dead like that.”  Such is the humor of David Wong and his buddy John, who dies at the end.  Dave is a guy in his mid-twenties, working a dreadful job at a video store, when John “accidentally” injects him with the black soy “sauce,” and everything around them goes to hell.  You see, Dave and John know the world’s going to end, and it is up to them to defeat the evil Korrock, a grotesque being from another dimension.  Along the way they recruit nerdy babes and hard-boiled cops, encounter genuinely scary (and original) foes like centipede-men who wear bad wigs, a man who is literally made of cockroaches, giant slugs and jellyfish, and the deadly bratwurst creature that can’t wait to “meat” you.  This is a tale for nerdy guys and the girls who love them, horror movie fanatics, and those who love creepy crawlies, because there are a lot of them.  Told in a style that is both funny and extremely graphic, you’ll be taken aback at how the characters develop over time, and you will care for them all the way to the explosive conclusion.

Subject Headings:  Psychic Powers–Time-Travel–Aliens–Cockroaches–Shadow Men–Bugs (Slugs, Worms)–Meat–Teenagers–Mental Disabilities–Amputation–Las Vegas–Reptiles–Jellyfish–Video-stores–Drug Addiction–Art (Paintings)–Hell–Guns–Explosions–Video Games–Dark Comedy–Romance–Bro-mance

Appeal: Bizarre,Shocking, Graphic, Genuine, Comical, Quirky, Action-Packed, Bloody, Emotional, Character-Driven, Over-the-top Violence, Dark Humor, Manly, Geeky, Blunt, Silly, Intense, Weird

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Comical, Original, Bizarre

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

A History of Ghosts:  The True Story of Seances, Mediums, Ghosts and Ghostbusters.  Peter H. Akyroyd.

This is a novel about a man (a skeptic) who grew up in a household where Seances were a normal thing, and talking with ghosts was treated like a normal part of everyday life.  That man is Peter Akyroyd, grandfather of the actor Dan Akyroyd, who supposedly based much of his screenplay Ghostbusters on his grandfather’s life.  Did you know “ectoplasm” is something that actually exists?  This funny, insightful novel will appeal to Wong’s fans for its humor, quirkiness, and downright fun family history full of spirits!  Ghosthunters, look no further.

You Might be a Zombie and Other Bad News: Shocking but Utterly True Facts.  By Cracked.com

David Wong is the pseudonym of Jason Pargin, editor-in-chief of Cracked.com (the online humor magazine).  This hilarious novel combines articles from the various authors of the website into nugget-sized “facts,” with a semi-serious journalist tone.  Readers will love these tales that never take themselves too seriously, yet contain actual, researched information that skews societal norms, but, in turn, also defends them.  David Wong would be proud!

Fangoria’s 101 Best Horror Films You’ve Never Seen:  A Celebration of the World’s Most Unheralded Fright Flicks.  Adam Lukeman, Fangoria Magazine.

Simply put, those who truly love horror subscribe to Fangoria magazine.  In fact, most probably came to know about John Dies @ the End because of it.  This handy reference guide contains a plethora of reviews on horror films, comics, video games, music, and books!  This guide contains a fair amount of “Terror-Trivia” that will appeal to fans of Wong’s work, providing geeky insider knowledge into the myriad details that are the horror world.  Both common and obscure horror titles are included.  Not to be missed!

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft:  Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre.  H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth (editor)

This collection of short stories contains perhaps the “best” stories Lovecraft has to offer (The Shadow Over Innsmouth, The Dunwich Horror, The Shadow Out of Time).  The ancient monster Cthulu is obviously a creature of great influence in David Wong’s work.  These disturbing stories contain dark creatures from other dimensions, insane human beings, devilish animals, and wicked prophecies and blood-thirsty insects.  Deeply moody and always frightening, a bit of dark humor is thrown in from time to time.  Truly for adults only, make sure not to read these before you go to bed.

Knee-Deep in the Dead ( Doom #1)  Dafydd ab Hugh, Brad Linaweaver

This first book in a series based on the popular computer game Doom contains far more depth than one might associate with violent computer games.  You are a marine with a troubled past, and have now just heard things are not going too well on a moon-post created for “mysterious purposes.”  All of a sudden, you hear a terrible noise, inhumane screaming over your radio.  A swarm of creatures, grotesque, devilish, have just emerged from a portal nearby.  Will you survive the inevitable onslaught?  This book is full of insane battles, logic puzzles, and vividly depicted locales told in a fashion quite similar to David Wong’s.  Highly cinematic.

Parasyte (Volume 1)  Hitoshi Iwaaki

“They arrive in silence and darkness. They descend from the skies. They have a hunger for human flesh. They are everywhere. They are parasites, alien creatures who must invade – and take control of – a human host to survive.”  Such is the introduction to Hitoshi Iwaaki’s sprawling sci-fi/horror manga series, Parasyte.  Shin is a typical high school student until he is infected by one of the alien parasites.  Instead of destroying the parasite he instead forms a mutual bond with it and travels about Tokyo, challenging evil beings and humans alike.  Very gritty and graphic, this series also has strong characters, philosophical musings, and fast-paced, unique battles.  Quite unique indeed.

The Mediterranean Caper

July 23, 2012

Author:  Clive Cussler

Title: The Mediterranean Caper: A Dirk Pitt Novel

Genre: Adventure, Thriller, Suspense

Publisher/Publication Date:  Berkley Books, New York.  1973

Number of Pages:  372

Geographical Setting:  The Island of Thasos, Greece.

Time Period:  Modern Day

Series:  Dirk Pitt series

Plot Summary:  One of the first novels of Cussler’s Dirk Pitt series, this is a tale of intrigue, sabotage, and scientific exploration.  Dirk Pitt  is a rough-and-tumble, modern-day adventure-man with a troubled past, charming wit, and the occasional mean streak about him.  A member of the National Underwater and Marine Agency (NUMA), Dirk and his brainy colleagues embark on a mission to discover a missing creature in the evolutionary chain, only to be thwarted by a WWI bi-plane.  Pitt’s revenge on the nefarious plane leads to a tale laced with suspense, intrigue, picturesque Roman vistas, tricky villains, snarky quips, beautiful babes, and explosions galore.   This action-infused thriller is a page-turner and never lets up till the exciting conclusion.  As far as thrillers go, Cussler certainly knows what he’s doing.

Subject Headings:  Dirk Pitt (character)–Thosos (Greek Islands)–Military Bases–Submarines–Sabotage–Navy–WW I Planes– Bi-Planes–Classic Cars–Boats– Military History–Roman History–Greek Vistas–Aegean Sea–Labyrinths–Mediterranean–Troubled Pasts–NUMA (National Underwater and Marine Agency)–Adventure–War Criminals–Nazis.

Appeal:  Edgy, Informative, Shocking, Smarmy, Un-pretentious, Action-packed, Witty, Fast-paced, Richly detailed, Violent, Smart, Gut-wrenching, Spry, Loud, Serious.

3 Appeal terms that best describe this book:  Smart, Fast-paced, Loud.

3 Similar Fiction works and authors:

Blood of the Reich.  William Dietrich.

Those who enjoyed the German threads (and machines) in Cussler’s The Mediterranean Caper may enjoy this similar tale about a modern-day publicist who must find the truth about a story on the history of Nazi SS officers and an American Zoologist looking for a legendary energy source in Tibet.  Fast-paced and suspenseful, this story provides a female protagonist akin to Dirk Pitt who is thoughtful, playful, witty, and smart.  Told in alternating chapters (both the past and the present), this tale should please anyone looking for an engaging, page-turning thriller.

State of Fear.  Michael Crichton.

This thought-provoking suspense novel by Crichton is an eco-thriller taking place in various exotic locales such as Paris, Iceland, and the Solomon Islands.  Those who find Cussler’s technologically  intense scientific and militaristic facts intriguing will enjoy this tale about a millionaire dealing with a present-day concern: global warming.  This compelling, richly told tale is both intellectually stimulating with the action-packed, fast-paced pace readers love.

Thunderball.  Ian Fleming.

Those who love Dirk Pitt’s brash, some-what dark, womanizing ways will most likely enjoy this James Bond tale by Ian Fleming.  In this tale Bond deals once again with the evil criminal organization SPECTRE, which has just hijacked an NATO airplane containing two atomic bombs , and is demanding ransom.  Will Bond succeed?  And, will there be beautiful women to cavort with whilst examining cool gadgets and sketchy situations.  Most certainly so!

3 Similar Non-Fiction works and authors:

Castles of Steel.  Robert K. Massie.

This historical, non-fiction novel tells the tale of early, 20th-century naval history between the British and Germans during WWI.  The writing style of this work is filled with intriguing details, is thoughtfully described and is very scholarly, but not boring.  It is a military narrative of the finest proportions, and a good place to start for Cussler fan’s who enjoy his intricately described boats and machines of olden times.

Ancient Greece: A history in eleven cities.  Paul Cartledge.

Those who enjoyed the lushly detailed, mysterious vistas of The Mediterranean Caper might enjoy this historical novel about the development of eleven Greek city states and the politics thereof.  The book contains many significant details and contains a time-line, glossary, and list of important figureheads of the time.  Engaging and well-researched, fast-paced and highly accessible reading.

Horrible shipwreck!a full, true and particular account of the melancholy loss of the British convict ship Amphitrite, the 31st August 1833, off Boulogne, when 108 female convicts, 12 children, and 13 seamen met with a watery grave, in sight of thousands, none being saved out of 136 souls but three!   Andrew C.A. Jampoler.

This amusing, startling story tells the tale of the convict transport ship Amphitrite, and how it came to its ultimate demise off the shores of France in 1833, carrying over 100 women prisoners and their children.  Though non-fiction, this book is action-packed, written in the thriller/adventure style, and is full of intrigue and historical comedy and intrigue.  It contains bibliographical details and an index as well.

I Am Not Myself These Days

April 11, 2012

Author: Kilmer-Purcell, Josh

Title: I Am Not Myself These Days

Genre: GLBTQ

Publication Date: 2006

Number of Pages: 305

Geographical Setting: New York

Time Period: 1990’s

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:

The best way to describe this book is by saying it is a very nontraditional love story. The author of this memoir tells of his life in New York City as a young art director in the advertising industry by day and drag queen superstar, Aqua by night. The author Josh has what can only be described as a pretty serious drinking habit, pounding vodkas at night, and starting to sober up at some point in the middle of the next day, only to begin the cycle again that night. After a sixth straight win as New York’s best new drag queen one night, Josh meets a handsome guy at the bar named Jack.  The next day, as he struggles to remember the night before, he recalls waking up in Jack’s apartment. Jack contacts him to meet again, and the romance ensues from there.  Josh quickly discovers that Jack’s beautiful penthouse suite is paid for by his job as a male escort. It is not long until Josh moves into the penthouse and begins his life with Jack.  When Jack starts becoming addicted to crack and Josh is drinking more than ever, their lives being to spiral out of control.  This memoir is full of tragic, touching, heartwarming, and heart wrenching moments. The writing is engaging and extremely humorous throughout the book.

Subject Headings: Kilmer-Purcell, Josh, 1969-, Transvestites — New York City — Biography

Appeals: funny, tragic, sexually explicit, fast-paced, engaging, shocking, flawed characters, bittersweet, violent, romantic, insightful, candid

3 Appeals to best describe book: funny, bittersweet, shocking

3 Fiction read-alikes:

I’ve Got A Feeling We’re Not in Kansas Anymore: Tales from Gay Manhattan by Ethan Mordden. This upbeat novel tells interweaving stories of the lives of a small group of gay Manhattanites, including love stories.

Now is the Hour by Tom Spanbauer. This humorous coming of age story follows Rigby John Klusener as he hitchhikes from Idaho to San Francisco to escape his small minded town. Rigby finds true love in an older man George, and experiences several other adventures along the way.

Mount Appetite by Bill Gaston. This is a witty book of short stories about addiction and the power of it. It focuses on everything from romance to drugs and alcohol. Josh and Jack both deal with addiction in I am Not Myself These Days.

3 Non-fiction read-alikes:

Possible Side Effects by Augusten Burroughs. Both of these stories tell sometimes sad, serious stories in a quirky, darkly humorous way.  They are both stories about the author’s lives, and deal with issues of addiction, the advertising industry, and being a gay man in NYC.  The authors are very candid, witty, and humorous.

Hiding My Candy: The Autobiography of the Grand Empress of Savannah by Lady Chablis. Savannah’s most famous drag queen tells her life story in this humorous and at times heart-wrenching book.  Like Kilmer-Purcell, Lady Chablis goes behind the scenes in the life of a drag queen, and tells the story with heart and wit.

Dandy in the Underworld: An Unauthorized Autobiography by Sebastian Horsley. This autobiography tells of the author’s life from an early age with a dysfunctional family. Later in his life he struggles with a heroin addiction, and has a short career as a male escort, much like Jack.

Trumpet

April 11, 2012

Author – Jackie Kay

Title- Trumpet

Genre –GLBTQ, Literary Fiction

Publication Date – 1998

Number of Pages – 288

Geographical Setting – London & Scotland

Time Period – 1960s – 1990s

Series – N/A

Plot Summary – Trumpet is the haunting and beautiful story of Joss Moody.  Moody, based on real life Billy Tipton, is a famous African American jazz trumpeter who was born female, but identifies as male.  She lives her entire life masquerading as a male, revealing the secret only to her wife, Millie.  The story begins after Moody’s death, when her ‘real’ identity has been discovered through an autopsy.

Touching on themes of identity, love, secrecy and racism, this novel is a captivating and emotional read.  Told from multiple perspectives, readers are given insight into the minds of Millie, Coleman (Moody’s son), the coroner, a journalist attempting to write a tell-all biography on Moody’s life, and many otherss.

Subject Headings – Family Secrets; Identity (Psychology); Jazz; Male Impersonators; Racism; Scotland; Transsexuals; Trumpet Players; Grief

Appeal – Lyrical, Haunting, Thought-Provoking, Poetic, Shocking, Romantic, Intimate, Engaging, Unusual, Multiple Points of View, Quirky, Entertaining

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe the Book – Thought-Provoking, Unusual, Haunting

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works –

Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs (Various Authors): This work is a compilation of essays written by transsexuals focusing on their individual quests to find their true selves. Readers who were interested in the transsexual aspect of Trumpet will likely enjoy these first person accounts.

Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton (by Diane Wood Middlebrook): This book is the biography of Billy Tipton, the transsexual trumpet player who Jackie Kay based Trumpet on.  Trumpet is a fictionalized account of Billy Tipton’s story.  Readers who wish for the factual version of Trumpet will certaily enjoy this biography.

The History of Jazz (by Ted Gioia): This book is a comprehensive history of jazz.  Touching on the origins of jazz, the various styles, the places where the genre evolved, and commentary on the style itself, this work will interest readers who enjoyed the musical aspect of Trumpet.

3 Relevant Fiction Works –

Stone Butch Blues (by Leslie Feinberg) – This novel tells the story of Jess, a woman who lives her life as a man. Throughout the novel she is undergoing a transsexual operation, in secret, as well as searching for a community of her own. Readers who wish for a different book about a woman living her life as a man would likely enjoy this read.

Floating (by Nicole Williams-Bailey) – This book is about a young woman coming to terms with her identity.  As the daughter of a white socialite and a black alcoholic, she is continuously rejected by both the white and black communities. This book would appeal to readers who were interested in the struggles found in Trumpet regarding interracial relations.

The Last Report on the Miracle at Little No Horse (by Louise Erdrich)- This is a lyrical and haunting novel about a dying priest who is asked to prove the sainthood of a woman, while guarding a secret about his identity in the process. This will appeal to readers who enjoyed how Trumpet was written from multiple perspectives, and also for those who liked reading about someone protecting a secret regarding their identity.

Psychological Suspense

June 11, 2009


Psychological Suspense

Title: Scarpetta

Author: Cornwell, Patricia

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 500

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Geographic Setting: New York City

Time Period: Present Day

Series: Kay Scarpetta

Plot Summary: Chief Medical Examiner Kay Scarpetta leaves her practice in South Carolina to accept an assignment at Bellevue Hospital psychiatric prison ward, where her  husband works. An injured man, Oscar Bane, turns himself in to authorities claiming that he had been attacked by a stalker who had just killed someone else. He requests that only Dr. Scarpetta examine him. Is Oscar Bane a murderer, paranoid victim, or obsessed stalker fixated on Dr. Scarpetta? The only thing known for sure is that a woman had been tortured and murdered. There are bizarre twists and turns throughout the book. Dr. Scarpetta uses her technological skills to unravel the mystery and eventually reveal the  horrifying truth that threatens her entire family.

Subject Headings: Scarpetta, Kay (fictitious character) –Fiction, Medical examiners (law) –Fiction, Forensic pathologists – Fiction, Women physicians –Fiction

Appeal: Suspenseful, Multiple Plotlines, Complex plots, Scientific, Layered, Bizarre, Twists and Turns, Shocking, Horrifying,  Dark tone, Feminist, Intense.

Three terms that describe this book: Suspenseful, Scientific, Complex.

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction)

Reichs, Kathy – Bare Bones. Temperance Brennan is a forensic anthropologist and uses her scientific training and research to solve this mystery.

Patterson, James – 1st to Die. This is the first in the Women’s Murder Club. Four women, a medical examiner, detective, reporter, and an attorney are friends who team up to solve crimes.

Cook Robin – Chromosome 6. The main character, Dr. Jack Stapleton, a forensic pathologist, and Dr. Laurie Montgomery use their medical training to solve a bizarre crime.

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction)

Denega, Danielle – Skulls and skeletons: true life stories of bone detectives. Forensic anthropologists who use their skills to solve mysteries are featured in this book.

Hunter, William – Solving Crimes with Physics.  Introduces and explains how forensic science associated with blood splatter, bullet ballistics, explosions, and other physical evidence can be used to understand crimes.

Nova – “The Perfect Corpse,” a DVD originally aired on television. Forensic scientists examine a headless Iron Age male corpse in Ireland. It is theorized that he had been a sacrificial victim of Celtic ritual.

Name: Donna Mihovilovich