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Songs for the New Depression Hardcover – October 25, 2011
"Warlight" by Michael Ondaatje
A dramatic coming-of-age story set in the decade after World War II, "Warlight" is the mesmerizing new novel from the best-selling author of "The English Patient." Pre-order today
"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." Midwest Book Review
"Simply stunning!" Dana Miller, Frontiers Magazine/Los Angeles
"If a roller-coaster ride of sadness and humor sounds right up your alley, then look for Songs for the New Depression. This is the story of a man who knows he's dying, knows he's made a lot of mistakes in his life, and knows that he needs to fix things before the end. I won't tell you the end. Read the book." Bookworm Sez
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.
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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.
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.