Top positive review
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A powerful personal and surprisingly funny book.
on January 3, 2012
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.