God Says No

God Says No

Book - 2009
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Gary Gray marries his first girlfriend, a fellow student from Central Florida Christian College who loves Disney World as much as he does. They are nineteen years old, God-fearing, and eager to start a family, but a week before their wedding Gary goes into a waffle house bathroom and lets something happen. God says no is his testimony--the story of a young Black Christian struggling with desire and belief, with his love for his wife and his appetite for other men, told in a singular, soulful voice. Driven by desperation and religious visions, the path that Gary Gray takes--from revival meetings to "out" life in Atlanta to a pray-away-the-gay ministry--gives a riveting picture of how a life like his can be lived, and how it can't--Publisher's description.
Publisher: New York : Grove Press, c2009.
ISBN: 9780802144966
0802144969
Characteristics: 302 p. ; 21 cm.

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Reclak
Jan 02, 2016

This novel is a re-working of the very elegant Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin. Baldwin's protagonist David, engaged to a woman, explores his homosexual desires when she disappears and leaves him alone in Paris. Hannaham's is a more graphically descriptive account of sexual encounters between the hero Gary and the random strangers he has desperate intercourse with in bathrooms and parks. Gary Gray's "guilt and shame" are organic to him as written by Hannaham. The two spring to life in Gary during and after a humiliating molestation by a friend's father endured as a child and in later encounters with men who insult him to the very core, yet offer sex he feels compelled to accept. The conflict in this character is highlighted by his compulsion to satisfy his lust despite the damage to his self-esteem. Somehow in Gary Gray's head, his own self-worth becomes synonymous for his religion.
Instead of a girlfriend who leaves him in France, Hannaham's hero fakes his death and assumes a new identity so that he can openly explore "gay life". The two novels dovetail where both characters share the live-in boyfriend experience, with all the disillusionment that ensues from such sustained close contact. In Baldwin, the big reveal to the heterosexual partner is written as a slow dawning realization, but in Hannaham the hero's wife catches him hot-handed.

King County Public Library classifies "Giovanni's Room" as a YA novel, a designation that "God Says No", with its very explicit descriptions of sex, could never gain.

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Reclak
Jan 02, 2016

Reclak thinks this title is suitable for 21 years and over

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