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God Says No Hardcover – May 25, 2009
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From the Inside Flap
A tender, funny tour of a mind struggling to do the right thing. A
revelatory and sympathetic guide to a misunderstood world.”
--Steve Martin, author of "Shopgirl" and "Born Standing Up"
"James Hannaham's GOD SAYS NO introduces a groundbreaking new American
voice: a writer of spectacular sentences who has trained his sights on a
world that has hardly been touched by literary fiction. Topical and
ambitious, disturbing and hilarious, GOD SAYS NO is everything a person
could ask of a first novel and twice that much. "
--Jennifer Egan, author of "Look at Me" and "The Keep"
"This novel is an absolute original. Gary Gray's search for wholeness and
acceptance is a heartfelt (and often very funny) plea for all men (and
women) to be embraced just as they are. A wonderful debut."
--Martha Southgate, author of "Third Girl From The Left"
GOD SAYS NO is a book that was desperate to be written but well out of
reach. And then James Hannaham came along and wrote it, with the kind of
care, wit, sympathy and fury that the book deserved. Imagine Candide
okay, imagine Candide as a black man, a southerner, a Christian
fundamentalist, middle-class, obese, married, a father, and utterly, even
If a comedy, in the classical sense, is a story then ends in a
marriage, and a tragedy is a story that ends with a death, then what do you
call a book that ends with a split and a resurrection? A truly daring first
novel, and something to read.”
--Jim Lewis, author of "Why the Tree Loves the Ax"
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Top Customer Reviews
It is always interesting to find a protagonist who is clearly less intelligent or less in the know than the author. Gray is one of these, and his innocence makes him a foil for the endless string of absurdities that is American Sexuality. Nobody really gets off scott-free here, and nobody is fully skewered. The most potent part of the book is when Gray is at Restoration Ministries (where they turn homosexuals straight). The idea is hard to think of but with mockery, but this is where Gray has his first taste of introspection, of acceptance, and of cameraderie. As a reader you feel the painful irony of it; you are pulled in two directions: wishing for Gray to escape their clutches and hoping he'll stick around with them long enough to give himself an honest look.
The writing is poetic, surprising, and extremely funny. James Hannaham has a truly original voice with an important (and entertaining) story to tell. A majorly good new novel by a major new American writer.
We first meet Gary at a Christian college, fighting his roommate over a broken Jesus. Gary’s language, by turns sincere, naïve and lustful, reflects not only a religious upbringing, but also his Southern roots; he describes a love as fleeting as “a sugarcube in a hot shower.” But even as he tries to remain true to his moral code—chastising those take the Lord’s name in vain, for instance—his desire for other men overwhelms up his judgment. Gary prays for the Lord to change him but soon takes matters into his own hands: he impregnates and wed his fellow student and Disney World admirer, Annie. Despite his best intentions, however, Gary finds himself drawn to public restrooms and parks for his sexual urges until he finally finds himself in an ex-gay ministry.
Here, too, Hannaham avoids portraying the ministry as villainous. Even if the ultimate goals of Resurrection Ministries is suspect, the support mechanism the men in the ministry provide is touching, even as they relapse with too-long hugs or unsportsmanlike butt-grabs.Read more ›
A book that takes the reader to a new and different world can be quite a diversion - the narrator of *God Says No,* is black, gay, fundamentalist Protestant, Southern, and obese. It would be hard to find more differences. (Okay, okay - I could stand to lose a few pounds!)
When I began I completely expected this book to be a smug and judgmental satire denigrating (Southern) religious views on being gay. While the narrator clearly seemed to be a little less intelligent than the writer, this book is a genuine and sincere presentation of his problems from his point of view, and has a surprising and satisfying conclusion. The book was kind and frank regarding all points of view presented.
Most highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I enjoyed this book, which presented clever situational comedy, genuine insight upon the human condition, and a sincere depiction of the American South.Published on May 5, 2013 by David Wishart
I bought this book because I liked the idea of it, and I was also convinced by the fact that it was presumably a thought-provoking, insightful book about a character torn between... Read morePublished on October 6, 2010 by cjeffers
I thought this book would be really interesting.... it was not. This is not a page turner. I had to fight to finish this book, I really could not connect with the main character... Read morePublished on September 1, 2010 by Frederick A. Nelson II
God Says No is book that is an unpredictable read. I found that when I thought the story was going to go one way it went another. Read morePublished on August 8, 2010 by Kirk Palmer
It was your basic story of a man with an identity crisis; The story was kind of boring...how many times did he have to incorporate the bathroom scenes into the book? Read morePublished on April 1, 2010 by Bonnie Hardin Mitchell
Hannaham delivers a first novel that is finely wrought, deeply intelligent, and moving. For a book that deals with some of the most relevant issues to the American culture of... Read morePublished on March 3, 2010 by Ben Williams
I took my time reading this book because I didn't want to miss a word. Every chapter left me wanting more; I felt like I was on this journey with Gary. Read morePublished on October 16, 2009 by dasha
The writing was pretty good, however, the book wasn't too engaging. It's not a, 'can't put it down', type of book. However it's pretty thought provoking.Published on September 27, 2009