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Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders

3.3 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1936833146
ISBN-10: 193683314X
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Dark Reflections

"Samuel R. Delany is not only one of the most profound and courageous writers at work today, he is a writer of seemingly limitless range. Delany can populate alien worlds or hypothetical futures and he can, with equal skill, home in, as he does in Dark Reflections, on the extraordinary life of a single, outwardly ordinary man living right now in New York City. Delany gives us to understand that all worlds, including our own, are alien, and terrifying, and wondrous."--Michael Cunningham

"Dark Reflections is one of the most honest books I've ever read about the martyrdom of the writer in the contemporary world. Samuel Delany, who has entertained readers for decades with his rich fantasies, now gives us the truth and nothing but the truth. At certain points I wanted to put this down because it was so sad--but I couldn't because I was so engrossed by its spare beauty and its searing frankness."--Edmund White

"In previous books, Delany has shown himself to be comfortable with both gay and straight, black and white milieus—not to mention various literary forms—but the hero of this heartfelt, often funny book is triply alienated…Dark Reflections, while harrowing and bleak, is mainly tender—a loving rendition of a place that gentrification has all but obliterated, a spot-on portrait of the East Village artist as a gay black geek."--Andrew Holleran, writing in The Washington Post

Praise for Dhalgren

"I consider Delany not only one of the most important SF writers of the present generation, but a fascinating writer in general who has invented a new style." --Umberto Eco

"The very best ever to come out of the science fiction field... A literary landmark." --Theodore Sturgeon

About the Author

Along with four Nebula Awards, two Hugo Awards, and the William Whitehead Memorial Award for his lifetime contribution to lesbian and gay writing, Samuel R. Delany is a winner of the Kessler Award from CLAGS at SUNY Graduate Center.

Born and raised in New York City’s Harlem in 1942, from 1988 to 1999 he was a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. After two years’ teaching in the SUNY Buffalo Poetics Program, since January 2000 he has been a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University, where he is Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program.

His novels include Nova (1968), Dhalgren (1975), Trouble on Triton (1976), and The Mad Man (1995). He is author of the four-book series, Return to Nevèrÿon (1979–’87), and the short novel Phallos (2004). His most recent novel, Dark Reflections (2008), won the 2008 Stonewall Book Award and was a runner up for that year’s Lambda Literary Award. His stories have been collected in Aye, and Gomorrah, and Other Stories (2002) and Atlantis: Three Tales (1995). His nonfiction volumes include The Jewel-Hinged Jaw (1977–rev. 2009), About Writing: Seven Essays, Three Letters, and Five Interviews (2006), and Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1998).

He was a judge on the fiction panel for the 2010 National Book Award. A collection of his interviews has appeared in the University of Mississippi Press’s prestigious Conversations with Writers Series, Conversations with Samuel R. Delany (2009), edited by Carl Freedman.

He lives in New York City.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 625 pages
  • Publisher: Magnus Books (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 193683314X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936833146
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #722,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Samuel R. Delany is the author of numerous science fiction books including, Dhalgren and The Mad Man, as well as the best-selling nonfiction study Times Square Red, Times Square Blue. He lives in New York City and teaches at Temple University. The Lambda Book Report chose Delany as one of the fifty most significant men and women of the past hundred years to change our concept of gayness, and he is a recipient of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to lesbian and gay literature.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I only just finished reading this book a couple of days ago, and it feels in some ways too soon to write about it.

This is not an easy book. There is something to take virtually every reader out of his or her sexual comfort zone. And yet it is deeply suffused with love and the joy of living in a community that accepts you for who you are, quirks and all.

The story starts in 2007, just before 17-year-old Eric Jeffers moves to the small seaside village of Diamond Harbor and meets the love of his life, 19-year-old Morgan Haskell (who goes by a nickname that cannot be quoted in this review). The book unfolds from Eric's point of view, following the two men into the 2070s through various careers, the loss of family members, the gradual evolution of the seaside community as more (and different) residents move in, and a rich and robust sex life. The sexual play between them follows repetitive, slowly evolving patterns--but that is part of the point. What is so often elided in fiction is here presented as an integral part of the warp and woof of their relationship to each other and to the community, and in the end the accumulation of the quotidian salacious details adds up to something greater than the sum of its lubricious parts.

It is also about community--how it supports us, how we support it, how it changes over time--and about memory--about the bumps and gaps of individual memory as well as of community history. It is also about the ongoing thread of sensual and sensory experience--full of precisely described moments and details of food, weather, light and clothing. It lets you closely observe the lives of a handful of people who never are in the spotlight or at the turning points of history, but who view all of that from a distance.
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Comment 11 of 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
Samuel R. Delany has written a beautiful and important book, and one of the best novels I've read in a while. One aspect of what makes it important (if not always beautiful) also makes it a book I won't be recommending to just anyone.

That thing is the sex, particularly the sex that occupies a great deal of the first three-hundred or so pages of the book (and never disappears altogether). Surely, you say, a little of the old in-and-out, even a little of the old gay in-and-out, or--in these fifty-shaded days--even a little kinky BDSMish in-and-out, won't be as off-putting as all that, and you'd be right. Your grandmother reads books that feature all those things.

And that's precisely, I believe, the reason Delany felt the need to go beyond the warm and fuzzy every-day "deviance" with which we've all grown comfortable. He needed to go beyond it, because the philosophical point of this book, has to do with tolerance, and if we're talking about tolerating something we're already comfortable with--gay people, for example, who are willing to adopt the social mores of straight people and not talk too much about what they do in the bedroom (or the men's room)--then our tolerance doesn't really amount to much.

Thus, in scenes that go on for pages, Delany trots out pederasty, bestiality, coprophagia, urophagia (the squemish should not run to their dictionaries to look up these terms), the ingesting of one's own, and others' mucous, and . . . the list could go on. None of it is condemned, and none of it is gratuitous. Though readers may be titillated by one or two of the practices Delany details, no one could possibly enjoy them all, and most will be actively repulsed by at least another one or two.
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Comment 9 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Paperback
As a young teen, Eric Jeffers was no stranger to gay sex, living with his former stepfather in Georgia. Right before his 17th birthday, in 2007, he was sent to live with his mother in rural Florida, and discovers the area is wide open fantasy playground for gays of all ages and races, courtesy of a black millionaire who financed it all. Eric immediately hooks up with a black young man just a couple of years older than him, and soon begins living, working, and playing with him and his father. The couple remains together for over seventy years, supported by jobs such as collecting garbage, managing the local porn sex club, and being handymen for an island colony of lesbians.

This is not an easy book to read. Besides being a mind-numbing 804 pages, the book is filled with graphic depictions of extreme raunchy sex, including taboos such as father-son incest and bestiality, and more. Since it is mostly dialogue driven, it drags a bit at times, and you can't help but wonder what is the point of the detailed descriptions given, if something other than to shock the reader. Yet, taking a step back and looking at the story, one can't help but notice that it actually provides a case study of a unique activism, with accompanying psychological, sociological and spiritual nuances, as well as a sci-fi like look at the future, since it ends 60+ years from now (In case you are wondering, gasoline then costs $160 a gallon, according to the author.) But, most of all, this is essentially a love story about an unusual same-sex couple, and their life together, exactly as they wanted it.

Delany is an accomplished author with dozens of titles released over the past forty years, none of which I have read before this one.
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Comment 7 of 7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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