God Says No

Gary Gray, ?black outside and damaged inside,? prays to two Jesus statues to make him straight, but neither complies. Perhaps they?re simply annoyed at the way Gray gets turned on by a stained-glass depiction of David and Goliath in church. Even after he accidentally impregnates his girlfriend (?All women have mustaches, and fortunately for me, Annie didn?t bleach hers?), Gray?s entreaties go unanswered. In the early 1990s, unable to reconcile his sexuality with his fundamentalist faith, Gray becomes an expert in deception and sets increasingly lenient rules for his ?guy stuff.? Then a disaster coupled with a religious hallucination gives him the opportunity to escape his wife and infant daughter for a year of what he calls ?free checking?: the ability to indulge his desires in order to purge them for good. Hannaham feels genuine sorrow for the struggles of his pitiable protagonist. He transforms this first-person account of burgeoning self-awareness into a parable about the dangers of such strict adherence to Someone Else?s rules. As Gray goes to greater lengths to repress his urges and suppress himself, the novel, not surprisingly, takes a dark turn. It?s hard to be funny about a rehab facility in the Deep South that treats homosexuality as an addiction. Lighthearted beach reading, this isn?t, nor is it as twee as other McSweeney?s fare. Nevertheless, at its core, God Says No has a passionate sincerity that will certainly brighten some readers? days.

April 24: "[The HST] lifted a curtain from our view of the universe, changing it so profoundly that no human can look at the stars in the same way..."

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

advertisement
Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.