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The Father of Frankenstein Paperback – March 1, 1996


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452273374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452273375
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,423,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

This novel--the basis for the critically acclaimed 1998 film Gods and Monsters--re-creates the last days of film director James Whale, who was found dead in his swimming pool, an apparent suicide, in 1957. Bram offers sharp insights into the darkly comic sensibility that infuses Whale's two most famous films, Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, as memories of an impoverished English childhood, the trenches of World War I, and Hollywood studios compete for space in a mind whose defenses have been weakened by a stroke. Written in the fluid present tense of a cinematic treatment, Father of Frankenstein is a powerful evocation of an era before Hollywood celebrities could proclaim anything but domestic heterosexuality to the outside world.

From Publishers Weekly

In this ingeniously imagined novel, Bram (Hold Tight) makes fiction out of the aged expatriate British filmmaker James Whale's last days. Whale, living in Hollywood and recovering from a minor stroke, finds life grotesquely refracted through his greatest creation, Frankenstein starring Boris Karloff, and its campy sequel, The Bride of Frankenstein. His mind is a cutting room-floor jumble of olfactory hallucinations, nightmares and flashbacks to his working-class childhood, the sets of his horror movies and the gore-muddied trenches of WWI. Meanwhile, like unwitting furies, a sycophantic film student and Whale's ex-Marine gardener, Clay Boone, churn up his past and impel him to scheme a suitable grand finale for himself. In a wickedly disconcerting series of scenes, Whale directs a mad plot around the short-fused Clay, who, attracted by Whale's old Hollywood glamour but creeped out by his homosexuality, vaguely wants to extract the experience of a lifetime out of the famous figure?"combat, a love affair, a harrowing adventure, even a crime." With amusing cameos by Elsa Lanchester, Greta Garbo and George Cukor, Bram cleverly mines his material's potential from nostalgia and comedy to the grimmer secrets of carnal and charnel knowledge.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Christopher Bram does it again with yet another brilliant novel.
Ozbriefs
A brilliantly imagined novel, a rich historical atmosphere, and a riveting character study.
Owen Keehnen
Even though I knew the ending, I still enjoyed reading this book.
Tanja L. Walker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By philip@robertlees.freeserve.co.uk on October 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
Christopher Bram delivers an awe-inspiring portrait of the acclaimed Hollywood director James Whale in his book Father of Frankenstein. Above all an interesting and intriguing exploration of the mystery that surrounded the last days of James Whale, through to his inevitable tragic end, bringing in to his life the handsome yardman, Clayton Boone and expressively detailing his relationship with his maid, Maria.
If you have seen the film, a marvelous adaptation of the book, it may have left you feeling lugubrious and oddly empty; what stoked Boones' loyalty to Whale even after his ad-hoc rape attempt? Why did Whale do it? What is it he wanted from Boone? These were, at least, the questions the film raised in my mind, so I eagerly sought the book. Bram does not disappoint. He goes to great lenghts to explain the above questions and more. With eloquent and thorough ferocity he writes an all-enthralling account of the renowned eccentric James Whale. He opens each character with such delicacy and depth that you almost feel you know them, as you become intrigued as to how the paradox of human emotion Bram uses will climax.
In spite of the autonomy Bram gives the characters, you are still left wanting to know more; how Boone and Maria will carry on after Whales' death, do they keep in touch, but therein lies the books enchantment. Bram delivers an exciting and often times intensley erotic story, detailing all we need know about the intricacies of Whales' life and the blandness of Boones. The book encompasses both attributes with astounding reality and leaves you wanting to read on, past the back cover, to keep the characters and their relationships alive, one of the many reasons this book will haunt all who read it. A fact James Whale would undoubtedly be proud of himself.
A truly amazing book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Shantell Powell on February 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have not yet seen Gods and Monsters, but now that I've finally read Father of Frankenstein, I want to see how this elegant and poignant novel translates onto the silver screen. Christopher Bram really is a master writer. His writing style is delicate, simple, and strong--a perfect match for the distinct personalities of feature characters James Whale and Clayton Boone.
Father of Frankenstein is an elegant and poignant tale about the hidden gay side of Hollywood, war stories, and dementia. Like the Frankenstein movies of James Whale, the book begins with a dark and stormy night, only not in the cliched terms of 19th-century hack Paul Clifford. Nonetheless, I drew an instant parallel with Paul Clifford's words: "It was a dark and stormy night . . . and the rain fell in torrents--except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
In its own way, Father of Frankenstein is based off these words. James Whale, famous director of the movies he'd rather not be remembered for, had a stormy life beginning somewhere around London. Somewhere between his inauspicious beginnings as a impoverished child in a factory and his mysterious demise near Hollywood, he lived a full and colourful life. The book begins at the end, really, after James Whale is an old and shattered man. He's recovering from a stroke. Well, he'd like to believe he's recovering, but his worsening mental state disabuses him of that notion rather quickly. His damaged mind dwells more and more on the past until he can scarcely differentiate between the present and events forty years past.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Billy J. Hobbs VINE VOICE on March 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
In "Father of Frankenstein" author Christopher Bram presents a mesmerizing account of the last days of Hollywood (and British) film director James Whale. Bram's book provided the basis of "Gods and Monsters," a 1998 film which drew critical praise as well.
Bram provides us with an insider's view of Whale's life--itself something of a horror story. His turbulent life--and lifestyle--haunted him until his death in 1957 (an "apparent" suicide). Of course, such things that Whale suffered
were never publicized--or much acknowledged--while he was still alive. In this biography Bram seems to pull no punches, as he deftly presents the life of Whale that few outside Hollywood knew (his homosexuality, for instance), especially his background growing up in England, his experiences in World War I, and so on.
Whether a fan of Whale (the classic films "Frankenstein" and "Bride of Frankenstein" still have a following!) or not, the reader can expect a mesmerizing
read--something out of "Time" magazine and not the "National Inquirer"! At times, however, it does resemble "People" magazine a bit, but Bram does not resort to bitchy sensationalism to carry the book. He gives us a very interesting--but not altogether revealing--look at Hollywood in the Thirties. (Billyjhobbs@tyler.net)
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Although I found neither "Gods and Monsters" nor "Father of Frankenstein" particularly compelling titles (I was hesitant to see the film despite positive reviews), I was very surprised and impressed with both the film and novel and recommend both. Quite pleasingly, the film is a faithful adaptation of the book, with most of the bon mots coming straight off the pages. Having never heard of him before, I enjoyed Christopher Bram's writing style, pacing and storytelling. I found his characterizations very thought provoking and I spent time pondering Whale's desire for death and why he so wanted Clay to be the instrument. I also thought about Clay's desire for something to happen in his life which drew him to Whale. "He wants to have passed through an extraordinary experience, combat, a love affair, a harrowing adventure, even a crime... a gread drama that would take him out of his dead-end life and justify his existence." That seems to be the desire of many young men and a very resonent theme in American literature. Readers should also take note of the film's ending, an epiloge which gives a happy ending to Clay's story and shows how this experience did lead him to a better existence. Enjoy!
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