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The Queen of Puerto Rico: And Other Stories Hardcover – November, 1993


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Product Details

  • Series: Queen of Puerto Rico (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 175 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st edition (November 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688087655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688087654
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,044,020 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Reading radio dramatist Frank's vivid collection of eight short works of fiction is like watching eight people take a wrong turn into a dark and threatening neighborhood. In this world, the consequences of an action or a chance encounter are always troubling and unsatisfying. "Tell Me What to Do" portrays an adulterous couple who cram an entire affair into one week, only to have their lives become empty and spiritless; in "Fat Man," a kleptomaniac gains weight as insulation against his feelings; a couple's dinner conversation becomes more and more disturbing as the woman reveals herself in "Date"; the title story chronicles a vacationing teenager's seduction by an older man in St. Thomas and the impact it has on the boy's life. Retreat and remembrance are key acts in these jarring, unsettling tales, most of which start with a wide-angle view of the world, then narrow everything down to unfeeling sex, mindless repetition of desultory actions,stet comma and death. Still, they provide little moments of recognition that make even the bleakest stories involving. Sharply observed and simply told, these are disquieting portraits of desire and unfulfillment.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

"You know, when I think about myself and the life I've led, I feel self-loathing, shame, disgust," says the grossly obese main character of the story "Fat Man." "But when I imagine myself as a character in a novel... well, I think I'm pretty interesting, kind of offbeat, intriguing, entertaining." This self-description of the title character in "Fat Man" might apply to many of radio dramatist Frank's characters. "Tell Me What To Do" traces the emotional dance of a couple in a continuing affair whose need for self-protection keeps them distant from each other. The parallel narratives of "Night" focus on Kevin, an ex-con Vietnam vet working for a New Age guru, and his mother, a stripper. When combined with Frank's surprising plot twists, the result is a collection that's "kind of offbeat, intriguing, entertaining." For larger public libraries.
- Lawrence Rungren, Bedford Free P.L., Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on April 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Joe Frank, The Queen of Puerto Rico and Other Stories (Morrow, 1993)
That this book appeared and disappeared as quickly as it did is testament to how much faith America has lost in radio. Frank, the undisputed king of noir radio drama, released this collection of transcriptions, elaborations, asides, segues, and other obvious evasions of traditional short story writing, to shall we say a crashing silence. Which is unfortunate.
While the stories do lose something when not delivered in Frank's trademark deadpan style, the very oddity of them should still be appealing for those who haven't been introduced to Frank's radio work. The basis for much of what Frank does is to take a regular situation we're all involved in regularly, then draw it to the most absurd conclusion possible. You end up with things like "Fat Man," about a college student who forgets to pay for a brownie one day, then decides he's going to start a collection of stolen Howard Johnson's brownies, or the O. Henryesque "Green Cadillac," about a man standing on a city streetcorner waiting to meet a guy who owes him money and the various people who accost him.
Where the stories fall short, most times, are when the same attempts to interweave completely disparate stories bleed over from radio (where they lend the work an odd, attention-keeping power) into the text. Here, they just seem confusing for the most part (the notable exception being the title story, perhaps the best in the collection, where everything coalesces into a lovely absurd slice of life story). But it is a minor problem at best, and should in no way keep both hardcore Frankophiles and folks who have never heard Frank before from seeking out a copy of this collection. While you're at it, pick up copies (KCRW sells them) of the CDs of "Rent a Family" and "The Dictator," two novel-length radio dramas that showcase Frank at his best. **** ½
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Joe Pierre on February 13, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Joe Frank is known for being a unique radio personality, having starting his career at NPR, but eventually taking up residence at KCRW doing a wildly inventive weekly radio show that almost defies description. Basically, his hour-long program consists of monologues, dramas, and/or live interactions exploring a wide range of mostly fictional material usually centering on real existential themes, human relationships, the bizarre, ridiculous, and satirical, all with an undercurrent of "dark" humor.
"The Queen of Puerto Rico & Other Stories" represents his foray into creative writing as a medium, during one of many short-lived sabbaticals from the radio show. In this collection, the 8 stories (Tell Me What To Do, Fat Man, Night, Green Cadillac, Date, The Queen of Puerto Rico, Winter, and The Decline of Spengler) are all taken from one or another show, and set down on paper. The result is not nearly as satisfying as the show itself as you might expect (given the lack of music and spoken word), though if you've ever heard him on the radio, you can't help but hear his voice while reading the words. This goes doubly for me, because I heard him give a live reading from the book after it was published -- it was an interesting experience given that his radio voice is electronically altered for effect. Anyway, the stories here focus on human relationships with the usual themes of dysfunction, aimlessness, death, sex, love, and various forms of misery.
Of course, the book is now out of print and hard to come by -- even Joe Frank only owns a single copy, so it is unlikely that anyone will ever buy this or read this review. But if you find a copy, know that it's a rarity (my own autographed copy is moldy from water damage and I keep looking for a replacement).
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Etc. VINE VOICE on March 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Enigmatic stories, some memorable, but most would be better in the oral tradition on Joe's trance-inducing radio show. The stories read like background studies, and much action is presented in summary. There's an emotional reserve, a sense that the outsides of the characters are exposed, but not the insides. Are they just going through the motions of life, or is there a feeling side that the author simply doesn't present? Since they are stories of rootlessness and alienation, it makes a certain amount of sense; still, the characters are presented like bugs in a jar, and though you don't really understand the experience of living as a bug, it is fascinating to observe human beings in the vast variety of individual lives.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 17, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I can little relate to stories of heroic millionaires living in castles, or titled members of European Society. Joe Frank gives us a group of short stories about real people with real problems, worries, and conditions. From stories of compulsive, loser nebbishes like "Fat Man" to the tragedy of the Human condition found in "Night", Frank gives us characters we many times find disgusting, yet fascinating. And Frank's excellent narrative storytelling style only makes it better. I would highly recommend this book.
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 18, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Frank keeps you intrested with his own discriptive style characterized in his weekly radio programs. Worth reading.
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