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Every Boy Should Have a Man Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Akashic Books (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1617751626
  • ISBN-13: 978-1617751622
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,848,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Imaginative, versatile, and daring, Allen (Jesus Boy, 2010) raids the realms of myth and fairy tale in this topsy-turvy speculative fable. Like every boy, Allen’s protagonist wants a man for a pet. Wait, what? Substitute dog for man, because in this out-of-whack world, the pets are people, called mans (short for humans), and their owners are oafs. The mans are smart, articulate, and artistic, yet many are eaten by oafs, who are failing miserably as stewards of the planet. So says a “sacred speaker,” who delivers a veritable sermon of the swamp in which he praises the “holy tabernacle of nature” found in the grand biodiversity of Eternal Grass (think Everglades). Red Locks, a brave and cunning female man, is this tale’s hero. Brutally separated from her mother, she survives forced labor, abuse, and war. With canny improvisations on “Jack and the Beanstalk,” Gilgamesh, and Alice in Wonderland, Allen sharpens our perceptions of class divides, racism, enslavement, and abrupt and devastating climate change to create a delectably adventurous, wily, funny, and wise cautionary parable. --Donna Seaman

Review

"In Every Boy Should Have a Man, Allen takes genre bending into unexplored territory. He has crafted a highly imaginative, unsettling work of social satire that...utilizes a speculative fable as a way to muse on race, slavery, civil rights and even climate change...Every Boy Should Have a Man is James Baldwin meets Aldous Huxley, a twisted contortion of a weird fairy tale future gone wrong, all told from high atop the mountain in a sort of New Testament prose. As the mixologist of this mad and unpredictable genre tableau, Allen has navigated into wholly uncharted territory. He comments on everything from slave ownership to pet ownership to the way we treat our planet and ourselves. His novel is ambitious yet understated, cautionary while rarely politically preachy. Every Boy Should Have a Man is that rare novel that is derived from such a disparate scope of literary influences that it waxes entirely original."
--Chicago Tribune

"Every Boy Should Have a Man presents an eye-opening and beautifully rendered post-apocalyptic parable."
--Colorado Springs Independent

"Grade: A
Where humans have dogs, oafs have mans. But in Allen's provocative parable, mans are far cleverer than dogs…Like all parables, there's a message here. We need to pay attention to our environment and to those Bangladeshi clothesmakers who do work for us."
--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Preston L. Allen has written a poignant book about human suffering, a fantasy tale about what could happen when some people have more power over others, and how a dangerous combination of violence and a sense of superiority can destroy all that we have worked hard for and gained in our years on this planet. But it's also a tale about love and hope, adventure and redemption."
--NY Spender

"Every Boy Should Have a Man (Akashic, 2013) is the most interesting book I’ve read this year. Since it’s still only May, let me rephrase that: it’s the most interesting book I’ve read in a long, long time."
--Writing with Celia

"The story’s blend of influences and themes make the book as a whole fascinating and thought-provoking."
--BookTrib.com

"Every Boy Should Have a Man is a wild animal, a melancholy human, a hybrid with fangs and tears, a book that cannot be classified and should never be classified--it is a book that I read until late into the night, and then talked about with my daughters, my dog, my friends, and myself. I won't ever look at the daughters, or the dog, or the world, in quite the same way."
--Susan Straight, author of Between Heaven and Here

"In this new novel, Preston L. Allen writes with an elegance and honesty that make his observations on 'humanity' -- our common flaws, our insistent dishonesty, our daily failings -- a psalm, a love song to imperfection, and yet holds onto a firm and astute insight. Beautiful, elegiac, and optimistic."
--Chris Abani, author of Graceland

More About the Author

Preston L. Allen grew up in Boston and Miami, where as a latchkey eldest brother of five he learned to tell stories to entertain the others and keep them from bouncing off the walls while their parents were at work.

A recipient of a State of Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Fiction and winner of the Sonja H. Stone Prize in Literature, he is author of the short story collection Churchboys and Other Sinners (Carolina Wren Press 2003) and the novels All or Nothing (Akashic 2007) and Jesus Boy (Akashic 2010), which "O the Oprah Magazine" listed as one of "Ten More Titles to Read Now," Dennis Lehane called "a tender masterpiece," and about which the New York Times proclaimed, "no one does church sexy like Allen."

His short stories have appeared in numerous literary journals and have been anthologized in Miami Noir, Las Vegas Noir, Brown Sugar, Wanderlust, Making the Hook Up, and Here We Are: an Anthology of South Florida Writers.

His latest novel, Every Boy Should Have a Man, which has been called by Booklist "Imaginative, versatile, and daring," is about, well, boys in a fictive world who own men as pets.

He holds a BA in English from the University of Florida and an MFA in creative writing from Florida International University. He lives and teaches writing in South Florida.


Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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And I think that that statement is incomplete and unfair to the book as well.
A. Allen
It's a strange book to review -- some because of the length and all that happens within that short number of pages but mostly for the plot.
Book Sp(l)ot Reviews
Suffice it to say that the writing was extraordinary, the story sad, lyrical, lovely -- the characters wonderful.
Bonnie Glover

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
A young boy in a world not so different than our own, has one dream and one hope - to have a man, as companion, friend, and pet. "Oafs" run this world, and "mans," as they are called, either run wild as hunters or are domesticated, adopted as pets, eaten, or displayed in zoos and circuses. While oafs are larger, and live longer, than mans, they are not, in the end, nearly as different as they pretend.

The first half of the story tells of the boy's man companions, and it seems like the aim is to set up an allegory of how human beings deal with animals, generally, and pets in particular, that also addresses how humans treat other humans. The last half of the book expands its scope, both in terms of the storytelling and in its thematic reach. The story broadens, and begins to hint how the author imagines the world of the story to relate to our own. In this world, the "mans" who were not in charge of civilization were for that very reason closer to nature, adapting themselves to it rather than it to them. The book seems, at first, like science fiction and then fantasy, and ends up feeling like much more grand, akin to folktale but with the significance of myth or scripture.

Thematically, the book naturally provokes thought on themes such as racism, sexism, war, environmental exploitation, and other forms of oppression. I imagine that it would be quite useful for middle and high school teachers who want to get students talking about social issues through literature - but I found it to be a very worthwhile read and think it would make an excellent focus text for a book club.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kimberly D. Smith on August 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't be fooled by the title or cover. This book is not your average bed time story. Read this if your want to fall down the rabbit hole into a world of giants. This book is brilliantly written that I read it in about 2 days while on vacation. It has been years since I've read a book that quickly. I experienced a range of emotions but most glad I did read it. I love the satire of the haves vs have nots, religion, sexuality, environment, & animal rights. Read this with no expectations and you will simply love it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Sp(l)ot Reviews on July 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
It has to be said that Preston L Allen's novel has quite the provocative title. What also has to be said is that is not all it has.

I started Every Boy Should Have a Man without much knowledge of just what it was about, other than it was classified as SciFi at my library. The story isn't as simple as a boy (as we know them) needing a man (as we know them), in some way. Rather:
"A riveting, poignant satire of societal ills, with an added dose of fantasy, Every Boy Should Have a Man takes place in a post-human world where creatures called oafs keep humanlike "mans" as beloved pets. One day, a poor boy oaf brings home a man whom he hides under his bed in the hopes his parents won't find out. When the man is discovered, the boy admits it is not his--but the boy is no delinquent. Despite the accusations being hurled at him, he's telling the truth when he says he found the man aimlessly wandering in the bramble. Nevertheless, he must return the man to his rightful owner. But when the heartbroken boy comes home from school one afternoon, he finds wrapped up in red ribbon a female man with a note around her neck: Every boy should have a man. You're a fine son. Love, Dad."

With something - or a lot of something, at times - to say on the topics of race, religion, war, slavery, what we eat, and more Every Boy Should Have a Man gives readers a lot to think about. There isn't one issue or problem that is then exactly mirrored in this fictional world. Instead, it's the conglomeration of the different topics and issues that make the tale Allen's created so thought provoking. And make the story work.

It's a strange book to review -- some because of the length and all that happens within that short number of pages but mostly for the plot.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sam Sattler on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
Prepare yourself for a world in which boy "oafs" keep "mans" as pets, a world in which a lucky male or female man is allowed to actually live in the same house as their oaf owner, and in which unlucky mans are often consumed as part of a normal, everyday meal. Now you are ready for Preston Allen's Every Boy Should Have a Man.

Adult oafs normally stand something over thirteen feet tall and even their children are soon taller than man-pets. Every oaf-year is the equivalent of four man-years so, over the course of a lifetime, an oaf is likely to have several mans as pets. Get the picture? Strangely, some mans can talk and some can play singing musical instruments. "Talking mans" and "musical mans," however, are very valuable and are generally owned by only the very wealthy. The poor have to be content with ordinary, less talented, mans and their pets have to hope that they are not stolen to become part of someone's dinner.

Every Boy Should Have a Man is largely the story of two oaf boys, one wealthy and one poor, and the female man they share over the years. Their world is not a happy one. It is a world dominated by a small wealthy class that sometimes wages literal war against the poorer, desperate majority of the population. And, unfortunately for the domesticated man population, neither army is reluctant to use mans as cannon fodder.

This little book (191 pages) is one that will, most obviously, make readers think about our relationship to our own pets, particularly dogs, but it also addresses numerous other issues. It is a well considered fable that touches on things like war, religious conflict, racism, global warming, and what it means to be "civilized" - all of it cloaked within a rousing adventure tale that fits comfortably into the fantasy genre.
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