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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys Paperback – September 28, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 187 pages
  • Publisher: University of Georgia Press (September 28, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0820323381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0820323381
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.7 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #740,920 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Heartbreaking yet hilarious, this posthumous novel set in Savannah, Ga., in the 1970s chronicles a school year in the life of narrator Francis Doyle, an eighth-grader at the parish school of the Blessed Heart. Though the plot turns on the youthful pranks of Francis's gang, Fuhrman brings to his characters a near-adult consciousness as rites of passage like the first kiss are interwoven with imaginative acts of adolescent revolt and moments of terrible family life. Francis, soulful and suffering from a hernia, is beaten regularly by his father and turns to drink. He falls in love with Margie--a delicate, off-balance girl with a "wrist fragile as a swan's throat," who attempted suicide the year before--and longs for her with a sensual need that is captivating. When Francis first sees her, in church, the touching, love-at-first-sight moment is juxtaposed with the slapstick antics of a dog, with "tags clinking," who urinates against the altar. By marrying the earnest to the ridiculous, Fuhrman captures the sublime intensity of adolescence. But the novel expands beyond first-rate character studies as Francis and his friends struggle against the racial prejudice that saturates their school and neighborhood and threatens to explode into a race riot when a black schoolmate breaks a duck's wing with a baseball bat. Fuhrman (1960-1991) died of cancer while working on the final revision of this book--his first and last, which can be compared to many of the classic coming-of-age novels.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

On the cusp of adolescence, some 13-year-old boys band together, swigging the Sacrament wine behind their priests' backs and drawing illicit comic books depicting nuns and priests engaged in--you guessed it--sex. This fictional memoir of a Catholic boyhood concentrates on the coming-of-age of its narrator, Francis, who a year before the book begins, at 12, attempted suicide. No wonder, considering the dark underside of punitive Catholicism that Francis' story puts generously on display, not least in the figure of the boy's father, who literally beats his son bloody for not eating scorched corned beef. Francis' mother looks on horror-struck and cowed; afterward she is helpless except for the salve she administers. As Francis blunders through his first sexual encounter with a much more experienced girl, gets himself muddy and bloody in school-yard fights with his buddies, and eventually faces the frailty of human life, this darkly comic work by an author who died young well before its publication takes on an increasingly savage tone full of foreboding, grief, and very Catholic reparation. Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Fuhrman's characters in this novel are very real.
"psyched"
The jokes in the book were hilarious and I usually don't laugh at jokes in the books I read.
mami2sexynreal
I read this book in about 4 hours and can honestly say this is the best book I've ever read.
"verdster182"

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 7, 1997
Format: Paperback
I personnally think that "The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys" is the best book I've ever read. I am a teenager and it totally captured a tremendous amount of my thoughts as they really are, not "fake" ideas about teenagers like some authors do. I tried to do what the love of Francis's life did, and to see some of my feelings written out like this was simply amazing, and also very breath-taking. Never have I read a book like this before, and never willl I read one like it again. The ending of this book was so unexpected, it made me cry (honestly.) Then, to find out after I read the book and was ready to look for more work by Mr. Fuhrman, i was terribly shocked to read that he died. That made the book even sadder. This book cannot even be rated on the scale, it's to good to be put in a number.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Christina Howard on January 16, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I have repeatedly read The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys over the past five years. It has been swapped from family member to family member and from friend to friend. The ability the book has to appeal to such a wide audience, and continually gain a person's interest (even after reading it several times before) amazes me. This charming coming of age novel speaks to the experiences and innocent emotions each of us encounters during the akward age of adolescence. Chris Fuhrman captures the true essence of growing up, and tells his story in a way that will captivate each of his readers
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 28, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Sadder than Chris' unfortunate death is the fact that this jewel-like book fell beneath the long and opaque shadow of "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil." A fine book, "Midnight," and as a Savannah native I can personally attest to the charm and nostalgia it evokes. But for too many people, "Midnight" is the Savannah story. They will stop there and never read THIS story of Savannah -- a smaller story, a hidden story.

When I met Chris Fuhrman I was just a little kid, a nuisance at a dinner party. And Chris was tall, sunny-eyed, and somehow glorious as a teen-ager. And although our families did not often mix, the field on which Chris and I did meet was nearly always that strange and bizarre world of adult cocktail parties.

What Chris captures about Savannah in "Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys" is not it's grandious homes and Civil War memories, not it's history and high society, not it's culture or its pungent marshland atmosphere. Chris captured my world in small. My youth and my childhood are inextricably bound within that story. I guess what needs saying is: I was there and Chris got it right!

Most people reading this have not and will not ever live in Savannah. Fine. Read the book anyway -- especially if you've read "Midnight." Chris' Savannah is just as real. In truth, it's what's THERE
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By John N Dedeke on November 2, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I came across this book ... I almost didn't buy it, but the fact that I did will go down in my own personal history as one of the greatest decisions I've ever made. After merely the first chapter, I was ready to call this book my all time favorite, and the rest of the novel does not disappoint. I don't know that I've ever been so moved before by a book, and I can't say for sure that you will (unless you're an alienated kid from the suburbs looking for love), but the book is a true gem and a pleasure to read nevertheless. After all of the ups and downs of the emotional ride that this novel presents, the biggest blow of all came when I discovered that the author, a newfound god in my estimation, had never lived to see its publication. If there is one single book that can totally sum up the joy, terror, beauty, humor and horror of youth and coming of age, it is Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dan Griffin on July 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I spent 9 years at a Catholic grammer and middle school and it will forever be a hugely influencial, good and bad, part of my life. I often thought that I was the only person who was so heavily influenced by this portion in their life. I was wrong. While at school, I had friends like Tim and the boys. I had the crushes that ached that between Francis and Margie. I fought the other black boys at my school for the fact that our skins were different colors. Fuhrman nailed the entire experience of being an adolescent at a Catholic school. He displayed the alienation of the boys through the beliefs they are taught at school and the beliefs that have found to be true. Through their distrust in authority and the celebration of free thought do the boys use the beliefs that they have time-tested to bond their friendship. That is why The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys is a brilliant novel because Fuhrman shows how the bonds of male adolescent friendship are created. Through a common rebelious frame of mind, a shared twisted environment, and a infectious desire to disobey authority do these beliefs and philosophies create the bonds of friendship that fuel Chris Fuhrman's The Dangerous Lives of Alter Boys.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys is an epic coming of age story set in the south in the 70's. This was one of the most enjoyable novels I have ever read. Chris Furman has created a masterpiece that is definitely the greatest undiscovered novel of our generation. No one should pass up reading this book. I highly recommend it to anyone, no matter what reading style you enjoy. The novel also has special significance for William Blake fans, although no knowledge of Blake is necessary to appreciate his influence on the novel.
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