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Songs for the New Depression [Kindle Edition]

Kergan Edwards-Stout
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Gabriel Travers knows he's dying; he just can't prove it. Despite his doctor's proclamations to the contrary and rumors of a promising new HIV drug cocktail, all it takes is one glance into the mirror to tell Gabe everything he needs to know. His ass, once the talk of West Hollywood, now looks suspiciously like a Shar-Pei, prompting even more talk around town.

Back in his 20's, life had been so easy. Caught up in the 1980's world of LOVE! MONEY! SEX!, Gabe thought he'd have it all. But every effort to better himself ended in self-sabotage, and every attempt at love left him with only a fake number, scrawled on a realtor's notepad.

The only happiness he could remember was in high school, where he'd met Keith, his first love. Only Keith had recognized the goodness within, and knew of the brutal attack Gabe had faced, the effects of which still rule his life today.

Now almost 40, and with the clock ticking, Gabe begins to finally peel back the layers and tackle his demons - with a little help from the music of the Divine Miss M and his mom's new wife, a country music-loving priest.

Editorial Reviews


Winner - 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award - LGBTQ
Shortlist - 2011 Independent Literary Award - LGBTQ

"Kergan Edwards-Stout has crafted a work of fiction reminiscent of some classic tales in Songs for the New Depression.  Even better, Edwards-Stout's debut boasts the kind of dark humor that made Augusten Burroughs a household name."

"Kergan Edwards-Stout infuses reality and hopefulness into a bittersweet story about compassion and personal growth. A distinctively entertaining novel written with moxie and bolstered by pitch-perfect perspectives." Kirkus Reviews

"Simply stunning!" Dana Miller, Frontiers Magazine/Los Angeles

"Songs for the New Depression is a thoughtful read that should speak to many." Midwest Book Review

"Many tout this book as an important piece of fiction that should be read by all because of it's portrayal of AIDS. I'll give them that. I would add that it's not only an important piece of fiction because of the message, but it's a great piece of fiction writing regardless of the message." LGBT Book Review Blog

"If a roller-coaster ride of sadness and humor sounds right up your alley, then look for Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout. This is the story of a man who knows he's dying, knows he's made a lot of mistakes in his life, and knows that he needs to fix things before the end. I won't tell you the end. Read the book." Terri Schlichenmeyer, The Bookworm Sez syndicated column

From the Author

I hope you enjoy my novel, Songs for the New Depression.  It is loosely inspired by my partner Shane Sawick, who died in 1995. While entirely fictional, the lead character of Gabriel shares certain sensibilities with Shane, and is my way of honoring him and all lost to AIDS, far too soon.

Product Details

  • File Size: 466 KB
  • Print Length: 253 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0983983704
  • Publisher: Circumspect Press (November 15, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0068BPU7S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #867,888 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful personal and surprisingly funny book. January 3, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Kergan Edwards-Stout's first novel, "Songs for the New Depression" is the kind of book we need more of in the world of modern gay literature. For a man of my generation, reading about AIDS is difficult, because we lived through the epidemic as it first began to emerge on our collective radar, before we understood the horrific toll it would take on our lives and our community. There were a lot of these books in the 1990s, but we have begun to turn away from those dark topics in our literature, and I'm pretty sure that's not a good thing. Edwards-Stout's book seems to affirm my doubt. It is a beautiful book, and, I think, an important one.

Edwards-Stout is a gifted writer; the unusual reverse-linear structure of the book and the author's ability to use words is central to the pleasure of reading what is a sometimes harrowing, sometimes merely heartbreaking story. But the great surprise, and perhaps the author's greatest gift to the reader, is the laugh-out loud humor, most of which is in the voice of the central protagonist, Gabriel. Gabe is a deeply flawed person; but the reader has no problem seeing the potential there. This is a character you can imagine having as your difficult best friend - someone you love, but can never quite reach.

Edwards-Stout draws from personal experience here, and thus he presents us with a story that is both heartfelt and authentic. It may be a work of fiction, but it is also a work of great truth; emotionally, historically, and psychologically. The NY Times ought to be reviewing "Songs for the New Depression," not the likes of me.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Take Me On A Journey November 22, 2011
From the moment you look at the cover, you may sense you're in for a journey. And a hell of a ride is what you get. This 3-part narrative told in reverse order traces the final days of Gabriel Travers as he confronts not only his impending AIDS-related death, but the life that brought him to this point. We travel back to Gabe's high school years where a traumatic event ultimately shapes much of the man he is to become--for better or worse. Author Edwards-Stout has fashioned a cynical and sarcastic, love-him, hate-him, yet redeemable character that would give Augusten Burroughs a run for his money. While this debut novel will undoubtedly appeal to gay audiences, it would be fair to say that there are universal and relevant themes for all explored in Songs for the New Depression... We all struggle. We all seek a greater understanding of things we don't understand. And many of us seek some sort of redemption. While there are many ideas explored here, some are timeless, others are the makings of the headlines of our contemporary culture--a seemingly never-ending battle for GLBT affirmation, understanding and compassion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Gabe Travers is a gay man approaching his 40th birthday, which he knows he is unlikely to reach because he has exhausted the available HIV medications without success. With the inevitable passage of time a constant reminder of his situation, Gabe barely copes with his job with a Los Angeles AIDS service non-profit, through which he met his (now ex) boyfriend Jon, whom Gabe realizes he drove away with his bitter attitude, the same as his longtime friend Claire.

"Songs for the New Depression" (The title comes from a Bette Midler album, which was one of Gabe's favorites) is one of the more unique novels I have read in some time, in that the story is told in reverse chronological order. The book is in three parts, with the first an introduction to Gabe in his alternately bitchy and introspective final days. The second goes back almost ten years, with a promiscuous 20-something Gabe enjoying the buffet of sexual variety L.A. offered in the 80's, and continued to engage in such risky behavior even after AIDS became a known reality. Finally, the third part of the book goes back to Gabe's high school days in the mid 70's, a time when his crush on a boy (one that would last into adulthood) was overshadowed, and perhaps doomed, by constant homophobic bullying, including a physical assault that devastated his self-esteem.

While featuring engaging characters, this emotionally-riveting novel isn't easy to read, between the reverse time line (which likely adds to the overall impact of the book) and the details of what the younger Gabe had to endure. Still, it is well-written and an important story to tell, in reminding us of the possible lifetime effect of being bullied as a gay teen. Five stars out of five.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Song! December 2, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was an incredible World AIDS Day for me as I finished Kergan Edwards-Stout's moving debut novel that tackled the AIDS epidemic head-on by giving his readers a person to attach to this disease. Where Edwards-Stout excels so brilliantly is not turning his protagonist into a martyr. He has written a complex, flawed man (with a book peppered with enough humor to cut through the inevitable) that readers can identify with and not place on a pedestal to simply admire and revere. The book is told in such a unique way as we travel through points in Gabriel Travers' life to see crucial defining moments. It tackles themes of love, searching for acceptance, and the all important question of why gay men can be so `cutting' and `nasty' as they respond to people and situations. I found myself comparing each of Gabe's decades to my own life and questioning choices I have made - and isn't that what a good book should do? Songs for the New Depression will stay in your mind after you close the page the same way the Divine Miss M's music lingers in your ears when the record stops playing.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't pass this one by!
I can only assume that the handful of reviewers that down this book just don't get it. This novel is so good, on so many levels, that it's impossible to fully describe in a short... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Scott
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift Given
An intense and touching page-turner. Highly recommended for a general audience as well as a gay one. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Sometime Critic
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely, Poignant and Brings Back Memories
What a fun read by an author who really can paint a brilliant picture of such a variety of emotions. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Garrett Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a very special novel, it needs to be widely read...
Three short stories/ novellas that become a wonderfully unified novel about Gabe’s life told in different times and places. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Julia Walter
5.0 out of 5 stars This Book Will Certainly Make You Think
Songs for the New Depression is an excellent read.

In it, Edwards-Stout takes us on a journey (in reverse chronological order) of a boy that lost his innocence when... Read more
Published 16 months ago by AJ Moor
2.0 out of 5 stars Struggles for the New Author
Songs for the New Depression is a mixed bag of mostly tortured memories that the author wrote to honor a friend who died in the 90s. Read more
Published 17 months ago by IsolaBlue
4.0 out of 5 stars Mixed feelings about this one...
This is another novel that has filled me with mixed reactions. I found I really enjoyed the romance angle of the story, and yet at the same time, I found myself wondering why the... Read more
Published 17 months ago by T. Young
3.0 out of 5 stars Could've Been A Better Song
Just by reading the back cover alone, I thought this would be an interesting and moving book to read. It wasn't what I expected. Read more
Published 20 months ago by Boogie
5.0 out of 5 stars The Beauty and Tragedy of Life...
Gabe is a man that has many attributes. There are great attributes to his personality and there are awful ones. You can relate to the character in many ways. Read more
Published on April 23, 2013 by Zak
4.0 out of 5 stars Unexpectedly Beautiful...
The title first drew me to this novel. It of course references Bette Midler's third album (not as critically acclaimed as some of her other work, but always one of my... Read more
Published on March 25, 2013 by Robby Morris (SerialBlonde)
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More About the Author

Kergan Edwards-Stout is an award-winning author, whose debut novel, Songs for the New Depression, won the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Award in the LGBTQ category, was shortlisted for the Independent Literary Awards, and placed on four "Best Books of 2012" lists. His work has appeared in a number of publications, including Huffington Post, Bilerico Project, LGBTQ Nation, and American Short Fiction. He has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign as a "2011 Father of the Year", and blogs regularly at His new holiday short story collection, Gifts Not Yet Given, was released in 2013. Currently, he is at work on a memoir, Never Turn Your Back on the Tide.


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