Show me the books he loves and I shall know the man far better than through mortal friends - Silas Weir Mitchell
Robin Reardon is probably the first mainstream contemporary author I read in the Gay Novels genre (contemporary since of course I read some of the classics before). I love both novels I read, and I'm waiting to read the third, that I'm sure I will love as well. I love that basically, Robin Reardon is writing common stories about common people, young men at the beginning of their adult life, that period of life I love, when everything seems possible, and everything seems huge and tremendous. So I'm really happy to have Robin as Inside Reader today.
Robin Reardon's Inside Reader List 1. Middlesex, Jeffrey Eugenides. Anyone who doesn't believe that one's gender identity is, foundationally, second only to species in how we define ourselves would change their mind after reading this book. Although a novel, it would be believable as a memoir. And in fact it tells the story of many, many individuals who have remained mostly hidden.
Cal Stephanides was born with barely visible male genitalia and was consequently (and ignorantly) raised as a girl. As Calliope, entering puberty, she struggles painfully with the confusion brought on by a deepening voice, darkening and thickening body hair, and sexual feelings for girlfriends who are supposed to peers, not romantic partners. And when the truth begins to be unavoidable, Cal comes to feel like a freak that the medical world wants to study.
Told cleanly, without manipulation or sentimentality, gritty enough to be real but never offensive, this is a masterpiece. And what a challenge for an author! Wish I'd thought of it.
Paperback: 544 pages
Publisher: Picador; 1st edition (June 5, 2007)
Publisher Link: http://us.macmillan.com/middlesex
Amazon: Middlesex: A Novel
"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license...records my first name simply as Cal." So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic. 2. The Sparrow, Mary Doria Russell. The underlying themes here are deep and intense: the human longing to understand itself; our inability to see what our own assumptions are, let alone understand how someone else’s might be different; our compulsion not just to believe in a god-like power but also to find it. All these themes are woven in a poignant, vivid tale that combines fantasy with religious fervor and is unlike any other story I’ve encountered.
Imagine that our technology suddenly reveals that there is celestial music—true music, not just pretty sounds—from some source other than earth. Imagine being convinced that these sounds emanate from some godly source. Imagine being one of the humans who fly off in search of that music, that God, that Answer, only to find a place where the welcome you receive looks more like evil to you than the gracious hospitality your hosts believe it to be. Imagine trying to explain this to fellow believers. Or even to yourself.
Paperback: 408 pages
Publisher: Ballantine Books (September 8, 1997)
Publisher Link: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780449912553
Amazon: The Sparrow
"A NOTABLE ACHIEVEMENT . . . Russell shows herself to be a skillful storyteller who subtly and expertly builds suspense." --USA Today. "AN EXPERIENCE NOT TO BE MISSED . . . If you have to send a group of people to a newly discovered planet to contact a totally unknown species, whom would you choose? How about four Jesuit priests, a young astronomer, a physician, her engineer husband, and a child prostitute-turned-computer-expert? That's who Mary Doria Russell sends in her new novel, The Sparrow. This motley combination of agnostics, true believers, and misfits becomes the first to explore the Alpha Centuri world of Rakhat with both enlightening and disastrous results. . . . Vivid and engaging . . . An incredible novel." --Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "POWERFUL . . . Father Emilio Sandoz [is] the only survivor of a Jesuit mission to the planet Rakhat, 'a soul . . . looking for God.' We first meet him in Italy . . . sullen and bitter. . . . But he was not always this way, as we learn through flashbacks that tell the story of the ill-fated trip. . . . The Sparrow tackles a difficult subject with grace and intelligence." --San Francisco Chronicle. "SMOOTH STORYTELLING AND GORGEOUS CHARACTERIZATION . . . Important novels leave deep cracks in our beliefs, our prejudices, and our blinders. The Sparrow is one of them." --Entertainment Weekly ( Collapse ) About Robin Reardon:
Robin Reardon is an inveterate observer of human nature and has been writing forever — childish songs, poems, little plays.
If you enjoy Robin’s books, you should read her open letter: THE CASE FOR ACCEPTANCE: An Open Letter to Humanity. In this work Robin uses reason, physical and social sciences, psychology, various other provable disciplines, and religious scripture to remove any rational objection to homosexuality. The letter also takes a stab at explaining why so many people refuse to let go of their gut-level, knee-jerk negative response to gays, and how their very humanity could help them. How it could help everyone.
By day Robin works as a communications manager for an international financial institution, creating strategic communications approaches specializing in intranet delivery of internal communications. Interests outside of writing include singing, photography, and the study of comparative religions. Robin writes in a butter yellow study with a view of the Boston, Massachusetts skyline.
A Question of Manhood by Robin Reardon
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Kensington; Original edition (September 28, 2010)
Publisher Link: http://www.kensingtonbooks.com/finditem.cfm?itemid=17603
Amazon: A Question of Manhood
November 1972. The Vietnam War is rumored to be drawing to a close, and for sixteen-year-old Paul Landon, the end can’t come soon enough. The end will mean his older brother Chris, the family’s golden child, returning home from the Army for good. But while home on leave, Chris entrusts Paul with a secret: He’s gay. And when Chris is killed in action, Paul is beset by grief and guilt, haunted by knowledge he can’t share.
That summer, Paul is forced to work at his family’s pet supply store. Worse, he must train a new employee, JJ O’Neil, a gay college freshman. But though Paul initially dislikes JJ for being everything he’s not—self-confident, capable, ambitious—he finds himself learning from him. Not just about how to handle the anxious, aggressive dogs JJ so effortlessly calms and trains, but how to stand up for himself—even when it means standing against his father, his friends, and his own fears. Through JJ, Paul finally begins to glimpse who his brother really was—and a way toward becoming the man he wants to be…