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In the title story, an aging black singer who performs only Elvis songs despite his classic bluesman looks has his regular spot at the local blues jam threatened by a newly arrived Asian American with the unlikely name Robert Johnson. In Man Under,” two friends struggling to be rock musicians in Reagan-era Brooklyn find that their front door has been removed by their landlord. An aspiring writer discovers the afterlife consists of being the stand-in for a famous author on an endless book tour in Another Coyote Story.” Lonely and adrift in Florence, Italy, a young man poses as a tour guide with an art history degree in Know Your Saints.” And in This Is Not a Bar,” a simple night on the town for a middle-aged guitar student and jazz buff turns into a confrontation with his past and an exploration of what is or is not real.
In his depictions of struggling performers, artists, expectant parents, travelers, con-men, temporarily employed academics, and even the recently deceased, Becker asks the question, Which are more important: the stories we tell other people or the ones we tell ourselves?
Fatti Ashi died. Startling her family and community, she comes back to life just a few hours after dying. Blessing chronicles the life of this Fatti Ashi, a young village girl who from the moment she rejoins the land of the living is faced with both obstacles and opportunities consistent with an attempted mergence of two worlds. From a child who is molded with her fatherís advice to merge ancestral skull worship and Christianity to an underprivileged teenager who falls in love with the alphabet and finally becoming a woman who desires emotional and financial independence, Fatti Ashiís life yields misunderstandings and isolation. As a child in the village, her life is a battleground for family rivalry and religious conflict. As a teenage wife in the city, she befriends a sex worker who encourages her to bring meaning into her life rather than simply living to the dictates of others. She takes up the challenge by embarking on adult education and becoming a breadwinner but is taken aback when her husband requests a divorce. In a search for solutions to save her marriage, she entertains traditional religion, Catholicism and Pentecostalism. Disappointment and desperation lead her to take a deeper look at the situation. Is she to stay married simply for convenience? Is she to continue following religious paths laid out by others, clearly not as beneficial to her? Is she to please society to her detriment? The long journey of self-discovery takes her through scandal and humiliation but in the end, she emerges as a confident, admired and happy woman.
A Romilia Chacon Novel
A child dies on the border between California and Mexico. This is nothing new: immigrants die crossing the border all the time, escaping from poverty and violence in Latin America. They bake in the desert. But this death is different. Someone has taken body parts from the child. FBI Agent Romilia Chacón, a Salvadoran American, follows this case into a world that swallows her with its horror, a world that exists alongside ours, where children are bought and sold like cattle and shipped to men all across the country. The dealers in this blackest of markets have no moral barometer, only the lust for cash. And one among them has taken murder to a level beyond serial killing. Romilia comes to this case already broken: the man she loved and yet had to hunt—drug runner Tekún Umán, a regular on the FBI's Most Wanted List—is gone. Romilia has two friends, her partner Nancy Pearl—who lives a double life between the Feds and the cartels—and a bottle of booze. Romilia's mother is on her back to get sober; her son drifts further away. And the killer is taking away pieces of Romilia's life, day by day.
This tale of wild adventure reveals the dashed hopes of Africans living between worlds. When Moki returns to his village from France wearing designer clothes and affecting all the manners of a Frenchman, Massala-Massala, who lives the life of a humble peanut farmer after giving up his studies, begins to dream of following in Moki’s footsteps. Together, the two take wing for Paris, where Massala-Massala finds himself a part of an underworld of out-of-work undocumented immigrants. After a botched attempt to sell metro passes purchased with a stolen checkbook, he winds up in jail and is deported. Blue White Red is a novel of postcolonial Africa where young people born into poverty dream of making it big in the cities of their former colonial masters. Alain Mabanckou's searing commentary on the lives of Africans in France is cut with the parody of African villagers who boast of a son in the country of Digol.
Hailed for his humor and passion, the internationally acclaimed performance artist Tim Miller has delighted, shocked, and emboldened audiences all over the world. Body Blows gathers six of Miller’s best-known performances that chart the sexual, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man: Some Golden States, Stretch Marks, My Queer Body, Naked Breath, Fruit Cocktail, and Glory Box. In Body Blows, Tim Miller leaps from the stage to the page, as each performance script is illustrated with striking photographs and accompanied by Miller’s notes and comment.
This book explores the tangible body blows—taken and given—of Miller’s life and times as explored in his performances: the queer-basher’s blow, the sweet blowing breath of a lover, the below-the-belt blow of HIV/AIDS, the psychic blows from a society that disrespects the humanity of lesbian and gay relationships. Miller’s performances are full of the put-up-your-dukes and stand-your-ground of such day-to-day blows that make up being gay in America
While the marquis de Sade was drafting The 120 Days of Sodom in the Bastille, another libertine marquis in a nearby cell was also writing a novel—one equally outrageous, full of sex and slander, and more revealing for what it had to say about the conditions of writers and writing itself. Yet Sade's neighbor, the marquis de Pelleport, is almost completely unknown today, and his novel, Les Bohémiens, has nearly vanished. Only a half dozen copies are available in libraries throughout the world. This edition, the first in English, opens a window into the world of garret poets, literary adventurers, down-and-out philosophers, and Grub Street hacks writing in the waning days of the Ancien Régime.
The Bohemians tells the tale of a troupe of vagabond writer-philosophers and their sexual partners, wandering through the countryside of Champagne accompanied by a donkey loaded with their many unpublished manuscripts. They live off the land—for the most part by stealing chickens from peasants. They deliver endless philosophic harangues, one more absurd than the other, bawl and brawl like schoolchildren, copulate with each other, and pause only to gobble up whatever they can poach from the barnyards along their route.
Full of lively prose, parody, dialogue, double entendre, humor, outrageous incidents, social commentary, and obscenity, The Bohemians is a tour de force. As Robert Darnton writes in his introduction to the book, it spans several genres and can be read simultaneously as a picaresque novel, a roman à clef, a collection of essays, a libertine tract, and an autobiography. Rediscovered by Darnton and brought gloriously back to life in Vivian Folkenflik's translation, The Bohemians at last takes its place as a major work of eighteenth-century libertinism.
It is possible . . .that literary historians of the future will decide that The Bones of Plenty was the farm novel of the Great Drought of the 1920s and 1930s and the Great Depression. Better than any other novel of the period with which I am familiar, Lois Phillips Hudson's story presents, with intelligence and rare understanding, the frightful disaster that closed thousands of rural banks and drove farmers off their farms, the hopes and savings of a lifetime in ruins about them.--New York Times Book Review"Hudson does a superb job of revealing the physical texture of farm life on the prairie--its sounds, smells, colors, sensations. Then she goes further, examining the spiritual texture as well. Her characters are bound to each other and to their land in a kind of harsh intimacy from which there is no relief. Weather, poverty, anger, and pride are the forces that drive them and ultimately wear them down. . . Like the best books of any era, it convinces us of its characters' enduring humanity, and surprises us, again and again, with the depth of emotion it makes us feel."--Minneapolis Star Tribune"At her best, Lois Phillips Hudson can make the American Ordeal of the 1930s so real that you can all but feel the gritty dust in your teeth."--Omaha World-Herald
Approaching midlife, after rising to comfortable suburban life, Edgar Bonjour becomes involved with a drug-trafficking Puerto Rican motorcycle gang from his old neighborhood and is brought down by an affair with a woman in the gang. News of his murder leads to introspection among other members of the Puerto Rican Bonjour clan, all descended from three now nameless French brothers remembered only by their surname. Though extended generations of the Bonjours dispersed, some settling in New York, they remain connected by the shared lore of their ancestry, that starting with the three original Bonjour brothers—all rampant adulterers—every descendent Bonjour male carries a reckless, womanizing gene.
When Moses descended Mount Sinai carrying the Ten Commandments, he never could have foreseen how one family in Los Angeles in the early twenty-first century would struggle to live by them.
Conchita, a voluptuous, headstrong single woman of a certain age, sees nothing wrong with enjoying the company of handsome—and usually much younger—men . . . that is, until she encounters a widower with unusual gifts and begins to think about what she really wants out of life.
Julieta, Conchita’s younger sister, walks a more traditional path, but she and her husband each harbor secrets that could change their marriage and their lives forever. Their twin sons, both in college, struggle to find fulfillment. Mateo refuses to let anyone stand in the way of his happiness, while Rolando grapples with his sexuality and the family’s expectations. And from time to time, Belén, the family’s late matriarch, pays a visit to advise, scold, or cajole her hapless descendants.
A delightful family tapestry woven with the threads of all those whose lives are touched by Conchita, The Book of Want is an enchanting blend of social and magical realism that tells a charming story about what it means to be fully human.
Or, Scenes from Clerical Life
Dennis Bacchus is a man who has outlived himself. HIV-positive and prepared to die at any minute, he finds himself in the late 1990s blessed with life-giving drugs, supportive friends, a boom economy, and an era of never-ending celebration—and he doesn’t know what to do with himself.
For ten years he has traveled and celebrated a curtailed life with the similarly infected Jimmy and, though Dennis was never that close to Jimmy, he decided to let the friendship run its course to the end. Now there’s no end in sight. Stuck with leftover friendships, careers, and commitments, what can a man do but become a priest? The Boom Economy covers what was supposed to be the last decade of Dennis Bacchus’ life, but turns out to be the first decade of the rest of it.
The Boom Economy is a novel about conversion—not just seroconversion or religious conversion, but all of the social, spiritual, and emotional problems of changing from one life to another. At once raucous and serious, pagan and saintly, it’s a look at the way we live now. Again.