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8 Reviews
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exquisite writing; a must-read., August 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Saul's Book (Paperback)
Saul's Book ranks among the top three gay fiction novels written (others are Baldwin's "Giovanni's Room", and Holleran's "Dancer From the Dance"). The writing is vivid and stunning; the characters are extremely well drawn such that you understand their motivations completely while despairing of their choices. A very compelling read. Come, see what great writing is.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Revelation, New York's sexual apocalypse clock ticking, May 15, 1998
This review is from: Saul's Book (Paperback)
Mr. Roger's has created a sort of Pygmallion meets Midnight Cowboy during the explosive years of New York's Sexual wars while the Time's Square Sex-Clubs and bathhouses cruised into their twighlight. A crumpled postcard of New York found in a leather jacket excavated under the debris that obscures the seventies before sexwas officially declared lethal. Roger's is a prophet on the great white way where pedestrians follow a different light.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top 5, April 17, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Saul's Book (Paperback)
I was expecting to see scores of reviews for this book.This is an amazingly good book. Not for the naive or timid. I read it 5 or so years ago and I still flash on it. Paul T. Roger's only book. RIP.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story that could have really been, August 12, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Saul's Book (Paperback)
Wow, life really is vibrant in this wonderful story. In every tale there is truth, and I dare say it exist here in.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars an overlooked classic, August 23, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Saul's Book (Paperback)
It's a shame more readers are not aware of this novel. It's one of the best gay-themed novels ever written.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sinbad The Seaman, August 2, 2013
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This review is from: Saul's Book (Hardcover)
Sinbad.

Have you ever read one of those books which managed to haunt you for days afterwards? It just sticks with you and refuses to let go? I just finished reading a book like that, the kind of book I would include in a ten books on a deserted island list were I ever faced with such a scenario. I can't shake the narrator of this book, he's been on my mind for a week now. As I began to reach the final chapter of this book, I felt a sense of impending loss. Incredible, and I haven't felt that way about a book in a good long while.

It's called "Saul's Book" by Paul T. Rogers.

In writing about the book, and why I think it is so good, I should start off by acknowledging that I have a very strong sense of nostalgia for the New York City of my youth, which would have been the late 80's through the late 90's.

I know full well that it was a filthy city, with trash all over the streets. It was dangerous, run-down, sleazy, and much more a lawless environment. The poor, seemed to be poor in a way that most people deemed poor today could not imagine. In other words, a different time and place. Despite knowing and acknowledging this, I cannot help but romanticize the past, and yes, I do miss the city as it was then.

Mixed in with the trash, the danger, and the decay of that older city was an incredible sense of freedom, risk, adventure, and excitement. You could do just about anything, you could see just about anything, buy it, participate in it. That's a powerful narcotic - just the idea of it.

This book both underscores that sense of a wild place where anything goes, as well as the horror that comes along with living in it. It reminded me a bit of Dante's Inferno, there are different levels of hell. By romanticizing it, you can lose track of the different levels of hell that people inhabit while ensconced in the blinking glow of the neon lights of Times Square. To an observer, with a warm home to go back to, or in a contemporary case, a safe city to return to - this book serves as a reminder, and a glimpse in to a world that is almost unimaginable.

When I think back on that time, I realize that in my case, I was merely an observer. I'm lucky for it, for to have been truly enveloped by the world of Sinbad would not have been a good thing. I dipped my toes in to the cesspool if you will, but always had a warm bed to run home to (and yes, on several occasions I was running out of necessity). I never had to worry about three meals the next day, or getting a fix at a meth clinic. I never had to worry about turning a few tricks to set up money for food, booze, or a hit the next day. That was the world of Sinbad.

Based upon my own experiences, what I saw, heard, and felt. I'd say that Paul Roger's knew exactly what he was writing about. He didn't dip his toe in, he waded in to the cesspool, he knew the people, he knew the places. That's only speculation - but it's based upon the raw truth which bleeds from the pages of his book. His descriptions of the daily lives of the characters in his book meet or exceed those of John Rechy in "City Of Night" (the time periods are slightly different, but both books have the unmistakable ring of truth and first-hand knowledge of their subject matter), and mirror those of the Robert McNamara study written about in "The Times Square Hustler". His descriptions of the world they live in likewise match up with the non-fiction accounts detailed in Samuel Delany's "Times Square Red, Times Square Blue", as well as the very unusual book "Cruising The Deuce" by Allen Windsor (a book which almost feels like a guide book to the long shuttered porno theatres of Times Square back in the 70's - 90's).

Saul's Book is told through the words of Sinbad as he reflects upon his life after the death of Saul, his lover, mentor, Father-figure, Brother, tormentor. We meet him in what I would guess were his mid to late 30's. Even at that young age, it is clear that he is spent..... stuck..... mired in the daily grind of life. The world to him is a cruel joke, and he is left now with nothing other than serving out his sentence in this world.

Sinbad takes us through his childhood in the big city - a dysfunctional and disengaged family, and a world of temptation. This part may be hard to relate to for those who grew up in the suburbs, but it very true for those who grew up as city kids. You didn't take your bike and go ride through the neighborhood - once you were old enough, you jumped on the subway and the city was your oyster. This type of exploration was often solitary, and much like a choose your own adventure book. Sinbad is clearly an intelligent, and very thoughtful kid. A free spirit, and overall, a good person in the sense that his heart is not filled with malice, envy, and the need for social gratification that drives the lives of so many people in this world.

It is the combination of his free spirit, his disengaged Mother, his natural beauty and the environment of 1970's NYC that finds Sinbad in the Ramble of Central Park, crossing paths with a Chicken Hawk. Sinbad discovers he can make money and be pleasured at the same time. Not so bad at first, he becomes a hustler, working the park and 42nd Street. The Port Authority Bus Terminal, the peep-show stores, the theatres. As time goes on, he is terribly abused, becomes a junkie living on the streets, and barters away his beauty with men he sometimes finds repulsive. His tricks become a necessity, at times necessary just to have a place to sleep. He turns to petty crime, and the all too obvious downward spiral seems on it's way to being that of any other street hustler - until he meets Saul.

Saul is a difficult character to contemplate. He reminds me very much of the character played by Brian Cox in the movie L.I.E.

L.I.E. is a terrific movie, and a very challenging one. The main character, whose name I think is John is a pedophile. The movie is very difficult to deal with because the pedophile in it is cast as a likeable character, and a sympathetic one. It puts the audience in a very difficult spot.

Saul also likes them young, he is also likeable and at times sympathetic. He genuinely cares about Sinbad, tries to educate him, cares for him, rescues him constantly, and quite literally saves his life. He is also a pedophile, he is a drunk, he is at times violent, and he dominates Sinbad using his intellect and language as a hammer which ensures Sinbad is never his equal. Looking at this paragraph, I would say that Saul is an easy character to dismiss, and to despise out of hand. But the book itself will not permit that, which is challenging to say the least. Only if you read it will you know what I mean. You cannot simply dismiss Saul so easily, especially given Sinbad's devotion to him.

The bulk of the book takes us through their daily lives over the years until we find Sinbad bitter, out of prison, in his 20's and beginning to age out of being a viable hustler. In the pages of Saul's Book you find yourself completely, and convincingly enmeshed in their world, which given the changes to our country since is almost like an anthropological study. The book works it's way, picking up the pace as it goes towards a fitting cataclysm. Along the way I found myself wanting to yell out to the characters not to make certain decisions - the connection with them is that strong. But those decisions they make are representative of their lives and times. We apply our own life experiences to their decision making. In many ways we are patrons of a peep show as we glimpse through a window in to their lives.

Saul's Book is exceptionally well written. It's intelligent, emotional, and unflinching. It's subject matter is tough to say the least. This is not the type of book which might find itself on the NY Times Best Seller list. It is however the type of book which might find it's way to the front table of a good bookstore. Having earned it's way based upon it's literary merit as opposed to the lowest common denominator of focus group tested best-sellers.

I can honestly say that Saul's Book is one of the best I've ever read. I have several books on my to read list right now, and am trying to begin another one - but I must admit the temptation is incredibly strong right now to read Saul's Book again. To further get to know Sinbad. He strikes me as a character you cannot help but care about - you will ache for him. I expect that I will think about him and contemplate him for a long time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is in my top three, ever., April 30, 2013
By 
Lindsay Weekes (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Saul's Book (Hardcover)
It's a difficult read. Very confrontational but any book dealing with street life in any place or time has to be that or untruthful. it could only have been written by a person who lived the life described, in this case pre-AIDS New York City, in the area around 42nd Street and 8th Avenue which the characters referred to always as "The Deuce".
It's eloquent, it's poetic. It raises questions but supplies few answers, leaving those to be supplied by the reader.
Very highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars New homossexuaity is reactionary, May 10, 2014
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This review is from: Saul's Book (Hardcover)
There are homossexualities, the same way there are sexualities. Gay (and non gay) americans praise Genet, Mishima, Pasolini, Caravaggio and other cursed foreign artists. They even have created compartments for the genial Burroughs (who was a murderer) and the great John Rechy (who was a hustler). But they ostracized Saul's Book, one of american gay literature's seminal book. Why this? Because now gay american culture wants to be respectable, married and with kids. Because it wants to distance itself fom paedophilia, forget that during decades adult homossexuals preyed on homossexual teenagers hustlers. But how can they deny teenage homossexual desire if they write books about coming out in adolescence? Oh, pardon me, it is all vey respectable and bourgeois: boy meets boy, boy loves boy, boy makes sex with boy, just like "normal people". No Lolitos. No desire for older men. Shame on you all! Well, the world that the book shows was real and existed for decades, you can't just put it under the bed. One day, someone will make justice to Paul T. Rogers. And to Saul's book.
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Saul's Book
Saul's Book by Paul T. Rogers (Paperback - Mar. 1983)
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