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Songs for the New Depression Paperback – October 25, 2011
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"Kergan Edwards-Stout has crafted a work of fiction reminiscent of some classic tales in Songs for the New Depression. Even better, Edwards-Stout's debut boasts the kind of dark humor that made Augusten Burroughs a household name." - Advocate.com
"Kergan Edwards-Stout infuses reality and hopefulness into a bittersweet story about compassion and personal growth. A distinctively entertaining novel written with moxie and bolstered by pitch-perfect perspectives." Kirkus Reviews
"Songs for the New Depression is a thoughtful read that should speak to many readers." - Midwest Book Review
"Simply stunning!" Dana Miller, Frontiers Magazine/Los Angeles
"Many tout this book as an important piece of fiction that should be read by all because of it's portrayal of AIDS. I'll give them that. I would add that it's not only an important piece of fiction because of the message, but it's a great piece of fiction writing regardless of the message." LGBT Book Review Blog
From the Author
I hope you enjoy my novel, Songs for the New Depression. It is loosely inspired by my partner Shane Sawick, who died in 1995. While entirely fictional, the lead character of Gabriel shares certain sensibilities with Shane, and is my way of honoring him and all lost to AIDS, far too soon.
Top customer reviews
In it, Edwards-Stout takes us on a journey (in reverse chronological order) of a boy that lost his innocence when abandoned in his darkest hour by one of the most important figures in his life.
The author takes an interesting approach to his novel (interesting, and necessary) by telling the story backwards. We meet the protag and wonder why he's such an ass. The end of the book answers that question. When we get the answer to the question: Why is the protag such an ass?, we find that that's not really the question at all. It is, in fact, the answer. We find the protag suffered immensely in his youth only to turn out in a way that made the most sense.
I like this form of gay literature because it has such a strong sense of reality to it. In a way, I think gay literature is more likely to accurately present reality than more mainstream fiction - largely because we need that. The straight community looks at us, shaking its head, and doesn't really understand. Books like this help them understand.
As an interesting, and disappointing, irony this book's main readership will be the gay community that already "gets it" as opposed to the straight community who really needs it and would turn its back on a book like this for something else.
I think the thing I liked most about this book was the beautiful nature of the prose. It reminded me a lot of The Road by Cormac McCarthy. I like beautiful literature. This certainly fits that category.
I will admit this was not an easy read. It is a dense novel, the subject matter bleak and upsetting and the lead character is not always the most sympathetic, often unlikable.
But, as I discovered, Gabe's likability isn't the story. His journey is what we are to learn from. We are given three specific eras of his life, told in reverse order, that ultimately lead to the stunning truth about this character. He is human, and as humans we are flawed. The experiences, people and places we encounter in our lives really do contribute into making us who we are. So while I found myself angry with the Gabe character while reading the novel, I do feel like I understood him better when I finished it.
Songs For the New Depression is a mixed bag of emotions. Portions are laugh out loud funny, extremely upsetting and heartbreaking. The characters are rich with personality and the time periods are accurately portrayed. I think most readers will agree that no matter what they take away from it, the novel and the character of Gabe will stay with them. I was unexpectedly touched by this novel and will be thinking about it for quite some time.
Having read the book and met and spoken with the author has given me a truly memorable experience. I'm looking forward to more titles from Kergan.