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Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It's th Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It's the turn of the century, and the hotel carries on a prosperous business as the town's brothel. The eccentric characters working in the hotel provide Shed with a surrogate family, yet he finds in himself a growing need to learn the meaning of his Indian name, Duivichi-un-Dua, given to him by his mother, who was murdered when he was twelve. Setting off alone across the haunting plains, Shed goes in search of an identity among his true people, encountering a rich pageant of extraordinary characters along the way. Although he learns a great deal about the mysteries and traditions of his Indian heritage, it is not until Shed returns to Excellent and witnesses a series of brutal tragedies that he attains the wisdom that infuses this exceptional and captivating book.


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Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It's th Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It's the turn of the century, and the hotel carries on a prosperous business as the town's brothel. The eccentric characters working in the hotel provide Shed with a surrogate family, yet he finds in himself a growing need to learn the meaning of his Indian name, Duivichi-un-Dua, given to him by his mother, who was murdered when he was twelve. Setting off alone across the haunting plains, Shed goes in search of an identity among his true people, encountering a rich pageant of extraordinary characters along the way. Although he learns a great deal about the mysteries and traditions of his Indian heritage, it is not until Shed returns to Excellent and witnesses a series of brutal tragedies that he attains the wisdom that infuses this exceptional and captivating book.

30 review for The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

  1. 5 out of 5

    bruin

    everyone loves this book. well, most people. but i gotta say that the way that spanbauer dealt with race/ethnicity in this book made me feel super yucky. and i heard an interview that he did where someone asked him about his right to write from the voices of perspectives of native characters, and i was super less than pleased with his answer. which is a tragedy cuz a whole lot of this book is so beautiful, it makes me wanna cry. i have the same qualm with franchesa lia block and charles de lint. everyone loves this book. well, most people. but i gotta say that the way that spanbauer dealt with race/ethnicity in this book made me feel super yucky. and i heard an interview that he did where someone asked him about his right to write from the voices of perspectives of native characters, and i was super less than pleased with his answer. which is a tragedy cuz a whole lot of this book is so beautiful, it makes me wanna cry. i have the same qualm with franchesa lia block and charles de lint. a ton of beauty cached in a whole lot of sketchiness. does anyone else know what to do with this? i mean i know we talk a lot about complication and how we need to hold it, and that we live in a world that generally doesn't want to help us create complicated containers for things, but what does one do with the goodreads rating system here???? maybe we need to petition goodreads for multiple rating systems :) like one for syntax, and one for character development, and one for politics (but maybe that has to be separated by the politics of the author and the politics of the book). and don't forget the cover! we definitely need a rating system for all the covers. don't worry, i know i'm a bit ridiculous. :P

  2. 4 out of 5

    Nephyr

    This is hands down my favorite book ever written. It has changed my life more than once, and most people I recommend it to end up feeling deeply about it as well. It's raw and beautiful, and sexy and scary (in an emotional way, not in a stephen king way) and dangerous and amazing. This is hands down my favorite book ever written. It has changed my life more than once, and most people I recommend it to end up feeling deeply about it as well. It's raw and beautiful, and sexy and scary (in an emotional way, not in a stephen king way) and dangerous and amazing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Wanda

    Shed is just the best character ever written. Or is it Ida and Alma? I adore this book like treasure.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Blake Fraina

    Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I truly did. Over the years, it’s been highly recommended to me by writers whose work I admire and readers whose taste I trust. It has garnered glowing reviews from the NY Times, Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly and New York magazine, among many other well respected publications. I almost feel badly about just how much I don’t like it. I’ll start with what’s good. The writing is carefully composed and stylish. The narrative voice is distinctive. And Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I truly did. Over the years, it’s been highly recommended to me by writers whose work I admire and readers whose taste I trust. It has garnered glowing reviews from the NY Times, Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly and New York magazine, among many other well respected publications. I almost feel badly about just how much I don’t like it. I’ll start with what’s good. The writing is carefully composed and stylish. The narrative voice is distinctive. And the protagonists are all depicted as fairly fascinating and singular individuals. Plus there’s an element of mystery that kept me mildly absorbed until the end. Unfortunately however, author Tom Spanbauer falls victim to many of the tropes of contemporary gay fiction and film. The book was published in 1991, suggesting that it was probably written in the late 1980’s, during the height of the Reagan presidency which gave rise to gay rage over the influence of the Christian right and the GOP’s steadfast refusal to acknowledge the seriousness of the AIDS crisis. I am all too familiar with the sub-genre of "transgressional" LGBT books/movies, including Greg Araki’s The Living End and James Robert Baker’s Tim and Pete, that depict angry gay men exacting revenge on conservatives, homophobes and haters of all stripes. Despite the fact that Spanbauer’s novel takes a different route, I can see the hallmarks of that same frustration on every page. Nothing impedes my enjoyment of a story more than when I clearly detect the proselytizing voice of the author. If I’m reading your novel, it’s likely I’m already gay-friendly; I don’t need a sermon. The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon is peppered with all the stereotypical messages that one can find anywhere from Glee to Latter Days to Lady Gaga videos - your family is something you choose, racism and homophobia are bad, free love is good, etc. Nothing wrong with any of these sentiments, it’s just that Spanbauer is way too obvious about it and in short order it becomes pretty tiresome. He throws in everything (and everyone) but the kitchen sink in an effort to prove his inclusiveness. Every ethnicity, disability and gender preference is represented - a Jewish brothel owner, her lesbian lover, impoverished Native Americans, a traveling troupe of black minstrels (one of whom is a blind eunuch), an incestuous bisexual cowboy, an autistic mute, plus a handful of beleaguered beasts. And, to illustrate their acceptance of one another’s differences, just about everyone beds down with everyone else at some point or another. It all just kind of stretched the bounds of plausibility. Not to mention the bizarre suggestion that sexual energy is all powerful and healing, so the creepy remedy for someone who’s dying of gangrene is to get naked and dry hump them. Only a man could think this stuff up. Honestly. And don’t even get me started on the villains! All the usual suspects - an overfed, latently homosexual sheriff, corrupt politicians, a big businessman intent on despoiling the environment for personal gain and, of course, judgmental [and presumably, sexually repressed] Mormons. No complexity. Just a bunch of cartoonish Snively Whiplash types. All in all, I found the book to be overly simplistic, completely lacking in subtlety and downright preachy.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Melisa Resch

    ohmygod. this book. holy fuck. incred. i could not stop reading it, just devoured it. all the themes that Spanbauer deals with; sexuality, family, gender, race, class, religion- that is the stuff that makes up our lives. and he just takes it all and shakes it up and lays it back down in a totally different order, one that makes sense and feels right. I am usually hesitant to read native american stuff written by white dudes but i'm so glad i read this one. some of the stuff made my mind feel lik ohmygod. this book. holy fuck. incred. i could not stop reading it, just devoured it. all the themes that Spanbauer deals with; sexuality, family, gender, race, class, religion- that is the stuff that makes up our lives. and he just takes it all and shakes it up and lays it back down in a totally different order, one that makes sense and feels right. I am usually hesitant to read native american stuff written by white dudes but i'm so glad i read this one. some of the stuff made my mind feel like it was being pushed wide open and then other stuff felt so familiar and intimate that i constantly felt like i was being pulled and pushed by the narrative. it felt like a unceasing, unrelenting challenge to morality and all of the bullshit that oppresses us and there were moments where i just wanted to stand up on the #22 clark st. bus and cheer. and moments where i wanted to scream at him to stop hurting shed and ida and alma and dellwood because i couldn't take it any more. but i think it hurt alot not because it was excessive but because it was completely plausible. it was also one of the best trans stories i've read, told in a fluid natural way. and the fucking! jesus. i loved how much sex these characters had and the openness they had about sex and sexuality. i also loved how much butt sex there was and the acknowledgement of how much "straight" guys love it. fantastic.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Egypt Yates

    An older person I deeply respect told me this is the book they give to potential lovers and friends as a sort of vetting process. Those too offended to appreciate it are not, as she says, invited to dinner. For myself, I will be sitting at her side. This book is a masterpiece.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Damien

    I thought this book was hokey. The attempts at multi-racial/multi-cultural inclusion were insulting, and the sexuality reminded me of the way sleazy neo-hippies try to seduce people.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    Objectively this book is problematic as fuck. It includes a minstrel show, presents underage prostitution as a rocking good time, rape as not that big a deal and there's a dead Indian shaman living the body of our protaganist. Oh yeah, and it has a casual attitude towards incest. But then, our hero is a boy named Out-in-the-Shed which is also used throughout the book as euphemism for sodomy, and really, what's not to like about that? Despite not making a whole lot of sense and being just a tiny Objectively this book is problematic as fuck. It includes a minstrel show, presents underage prostitution as a rocking good time, rape as not that big a deal and there's a dead Indian shaman living the body of our protaganist. Oh yeah, and it has a casual attitude towards incest. But then, our hero is a boy named Out-in-the-Shed which is also used throughout the book as euphemism for sodomy, and really, what's not to like about that? Despite not making a whole lot of sense and being just a tiny bit too entranced with the wild and wacky unusualness of its character, "The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon" is surprisingly compassionate and sweet. It believes in love, justice and the magical properties of delayed ejaculation.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Harper

    I'm really torn about this book. It's a beautiful, heart wrenching story that often sits close to home. The way it deals with queerness makes me really happy. It addresses hard issues and is full of interesting, well crafted characters. On the other side, it's written by a white man, and I find its portrayals of native people and women to be stereotypical in the most offensive ways possible. The main character is a queer, male, native american prostitute who is attempting to find love, himself, I'm really torn about this book. It's a beautiful, heart wrenching story that often sits close to home. The way it deals with queerness makes me really happy. It addresses hard issues and is full of interesting, well crafted characters. On the other side, it's written by a white man, and I find its portrayals of native people and women to be stereotypical in the most offensive ways possible. The main character is a queer, male, native american prostitute who is attempting to find love, himself, his "people", and the buffalo. Usually, these types of overarching stereotypes would completely turn me off to a book. This time, I find the story so compelling that I keep reading. It's mythical in scope and so personal that it touches parts of me that I'm somewhat uncomfortable with.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michael Campbell

    This may very well be a very good book, but it isn't for me. All of the characters are hypersexual to the point that it seems ridiculous to me, and I'm unable to relate to any of their thoughts or motivations. The author tries very hard to wrap the constant sex scenes in poetic words, and it didn't work for me. I ended up scoffing at half of the novel, but this could very well be my own bias(not being a very sexual person myself). I do have a hard time imagining certain scenes not being ridiculou This may very well be a very good book, but it isn't for me. All of the characters are hypersexual to the point that it seems ridiculous to me, and I'm unable to relate to any of their thoughts or motivations. The author tries very hard to wrap the constant sex scenes in poetic words, and it didn't work for me. I ended up scoffing at half of the novel, but this could very well be my own bias(not being a very sexual person myself). I do have a hard time imagining certain scenes not being ridiculous, whatever my sexuality. (view spoiler)[The main character and the person he believes to be his father, dry hump healing powers into the woman who turns out to be the main character's mom. The main character has sex with the man he believes to be his father multiple times, but then finds out he wasn't his dad at the end which makes it okay somehow. The main character's mother still refers to the actual father of the main character as the best sex she ever had, despite the fact that he raped their son at the beginning of the novel. The whole romanticizing underage prostitution throughout made my stomach turn a bit as well (hide spoiler)] Also, the demonizing of conservative religious people in this book(albeit deserved) was heavy handed and took away from the meaning of the novel. All the nonreligious people were great in the bed, wonderful people, well endowed, intelligent, and having sex all the time. All the religious people were loud and obnoxious prudes, jealous of the people having sex all the time, closeted homosexuals or bisexuals, ignorant morons, and cowards. I do feel as if, perhaps I'm too literal minded to enjoy a novel like this, but I've been able to enjoy similar novels in the past(Now is the Hour by the same author for one). I hesitate to give it two stars, because I think it may be a wonderful eye opening novel for certain people. In the end though, I'm not one of those people and can only rate it based on my own enjoyment of it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

    This book was amazing (5 stars, Yeah!). I just finished reading it and I'm already ready to read it again. The story involves Native Americans, and Cowboys, and Whores, and Mormons, and Homos, and Drunks, and Bad Guys, and Good Guys, and Animals and More. I think Tom Spanbauer is pretty much a genius. He tells you the horrible things that are going to happen at the very beginning of the book, and then tricks you into forgetting all about it until the very end. And then, on top of everything that This book was amazing (5 stars, Yeah!). I just finished reading it and I'm already ready to read it again. The story involves Native Americans, and Cowboys, and Whores, and Mormons, and Homos, and Drunks, and Bad Guys, and Good Guys, and Animals and More. I think Tom Spanbauer is pretty much a genius. He tells you the horrible things that are going to happen at the very beginning of the book, and then tricks you into forgetting all about it until the very end. And then, on top of everything that happens, he throws in an extra tidbit of information that just breaks your heart even more. What a great read!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I love this book beyond all reason. But the other women in my book club despised it, and I can see their point of view, too. The sexual abuse of the main character is so twisted that most of them couldn't get beyond it. I didn't have children at the time and now that I do, I realize that might have been a game changer for me, too. I found myself utterly haunted by these strange, otherworldly characters who formed such a poetically bizarre family. I still don't know quite how or why it works, sin I love this book beyond all reason. But the other women in my book club despised it, and I can see their point of view, too. The sexual abuse of the main character is so twisted that most of them couldn't get beyond it. I didn't have children at the time and now that I do, I realize that might have been a game changer for me, too. I found myself utterly haunted by these strange, otherworldly characters who formed such a poetically bizarre family. I still don't know quite how or why it works, since this is the kind of writing that can so easily become pointedly obtuse or eagerly lend itself to parody. But when it works, to me this is the kind of writing that strikes that common chord of our humanity, creating the deepest kind of resonance. This book most definitely worked that way for me, and when it was over, I thought of it for weeks and months afterward, and eventually read it again, something I have only done with a handful of books in my life.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa The Novel Approach

    “What’s a human being without a story?” Author Tom Spanbauer’s storytelling is delivered in a method he calls “dangerous writing”. His brand of prose—plain-spoken and evocative, personal and sensual, forcing readers to face things we may not wish to see—places the inscape in direct communion with the story’s landscape. It is the act of looking people in the eye, because to look into someone else’s eyes situates us all on a human level, making it difficult, if not impossible, not to commiserate. I “What’s a human being without a story?” Author Tom Spanbauer’s storytelling is delivered in a method he calls “dangerous writing”. His brand of prose—plain-spoken and evocative, personal and sensual, forcing readers to face things we may not wish to see—places the inscape in direct communion with the story’s landscape. It is the act of looking people in the eye, because to look into someone else’s eyes situates us all on a human level, making it difficult, if not impossible, not to commiserate. In the case of The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon, the gaze of its narrator, Out-In-The-Shed—Shed for short—aims directly into his readers’ eyes, into the imagination and kindred minds of those who accompany him on this journey. We are not passive observers of his story. Shed invokes and provokes empathy and passion, sorrows and all the active things inside us that encompass imagination and sex and what it means to be a part of something greater than ourselves, but to also be at one with who we are. Our human-being stories. Shed believes that through our experiences and in their sharing, we each become our own story. His own begins as an invitation to join him—as long as we're not the devil—to act as cohort and confidante as he regales us with an extraordinary tale of becoming—becoming real, becoming human, becoming someone and everyone at the same time. His is a tale of not knowing how to be, because he does not know the meaning of his true name, Duivichi-un-Dua. How can a man be if he doesn’t know who he is? “By telling your story, the knowledge you have will become understanding, and that—knowledge becoming understanding—is better than anything there is to feel.” Shed’s story ends how it begins—“If you’re the devil, then it’s not me telling the story.”—and it is not an easy one to follow at times. He straddles two worlds and yet belongs fully to neither. Things happen to him rather than him being their motivation. The late 19th and early 20th centuries provide the canvas for a bald-faced portrait of racism, prejudice, and an egregious history of erasure of the tribes and tribal customs by the white man, the white government, and the arrogance of the white missionaries who, with their dogmatic ideologies and self-proclaimed pure Christian values, only wished to civilize the savages and purge their otherness. Told in retrospect, his tale includes some of Shed’s earliest memories: how he was orphaned at the age of ten or eleven; how, at the age of twelve, he became a whore, same as his mother. How we was born two-spirited, a Berdache, “a holy man who fucks with men”, servicing those who crave something the women can’t give them…out in the shed behind the Indian Head Hotel. “The only me I know is not me. I must have been born that way, and so far living hasn’t helped out any.” We follow Shed and the people who are his found and chosen and bawdy family: Ida Richilieu, Alma Hatch, and Dellwood Barker—the man Shed loves the most ever, the man who fell in love with the moon—through the death of Shed’s mother, Princess; through a war with the Mormons in the small town of Excellent, Idaho; through Shed’s journey to discover who he is; through loss and the discovery of truths and untruths; through his beautiful human-being story. “The only thing that keeps us from floating off with the wind is our stories. They give us a name and put us in a place, allow us to keep on touching.” The Man Who Fell in Love With the Moon is a book unlike any I’ve read before, and my head was so full of its story when I finished that I couldn’t think of much else for the longest while. Fair warning, though: it isn’t always an easy read. Shed describes it as a crazy story about crazy people told by a crazy. That is fairly accurate. But it is also a story of strength and love and resilience. It is a story filled with a magical sort of realism and spiritualism that mingles with all manner of human trials and tribulations. It is a story about speaking truths out loud because sometimes silence is the sound of fear. Reviewed for The Novel Approach

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joanna Sundby

    Ouch!!! The violence in this book is so real as to be almost inescapable, the way violence is when you live with it. The day to day degradation and loss of power suffered by the main character, Shed might seem over the top to some who don't know the history of the west. But everything about this book is as crisply true to life as if it had been written in High Def. All stars are against Shed as his is illegitimate, fist nations, orphaned, and bisexual. He is put to work selling himself and his e Ouch!!! The violence in this book is so real as to be almost inescapable, the way violence is when you live with it. The day to day degradation and loss of power suffered by the main character, Shed might seem over the top to some who don't know the history of the west. But everything about this book is as crisply true to life as if it had been written in High Def. All stars are against Shed as his is illegitimate, fist nations, orphaned, and bisexual. He is put to work selling himself and his employer, the matron of the hotel. But Shed knows what love is, and where to find it. His instincts that he calls 'killdeer' are flawless. He even gets away from the addictive love of the green eyed cowboy who falls for the moon. Mind bending, heart breaking, riff with savage abuse and unfiltered ignorance, this is still a love story, and one worth reading. I would call it, the man who fell in love with himself and that label is by no means a criticism. The happy ending, if you can call it that, hinges on the enslaved lover finding self worth on his own terms. That's hope, folks, and you gotta love hope.

  15. 4 out of 5

    K.

    If you're sensitive, conventional, religious or just easily offended - do not read this book. Stay far away. Sex is like breathing for these people, a way of survival, which is why the reader has to understand and then accept these characters for who and what they are. Spanbauer's language is difficult in the beginning and definitely takes getting used to but when you do, its quite worth it. You just have to understand that these people come from a wholly different place, with different beliefs If you're sensitive, conventional, religious or just easily offended - do not read this book. Stay far away. Sex is like breathing for these people, a way of survival, which is why the reader has to understand and then accept these characters for who and what they are. Spanbauer's language is difficult in the beginning and definitely takes getting used to but when you do, its quite worth it. You just have to understand that these people come from a wholly different place, with different beliefs and lifestyles. Once you get past that, you actually grow to love them.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Xander

    Beautifully written. Queer as fuck without calling itself such. About whores, cowboys, Indians, Mormons, and so much more, in the late 1800s... The characters will become good friends who you hate to leave when you've finished the book. Beautifully written. Queer as fuck without calling itself such. About whores, cowboys, Indians, Mormons, and so much more, in the late 1800s... The characters will become good friends who you hate to leave when you've finished the book.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Siobhán

    Shed is a half Native Americwn bisexual prostitute, who lives in a brothel, while he is also searching for his father during the time Mormons move into the state of Utah (20th century). This summary already sounds super crazy and this book is even more crazy. It is partly hilarious, witty and highly amusing. Some parts I really disliked: the book is extremely sexually explicit, plus extreme violence, rape, and incest can be found (trigger warning). I am not sure how to rate it. It's somewhere betw Shed is a half Native Americwn bisexual prostitute, who lives in a brothel, while he is also searching for his father during the time Mormons move into the state of Utah (20th century). This summary already sounds super crazy and this book is even more crazy. It is partly hilarious, witty and highly amusing. Some parts I really disliked: the book is extremely sexually explicit, plus extreme violence, rape, and incest can be found (trigger warning). I am not sure how to rate it. It's somewhere between three and five stars, so I'll settle in the middle. Some parts were wonderful other parts terrible. Would love to know what Native American readers think about this book though. OH, THE HUMANITY.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Will

    ***SPOILERS On the surface, this book sounded exactly like the sort of book that I would thoroughly enjoy: an exploration of race, gender, sexuality and spirituality under a western backdrop. However, whilst these topics are touched upon, I was sorely disappointed by Spanbauer's preoccupation with 'dicks' and 'f**king' which ultimately ruined this book for me, along with the pointless conclusion. It becomes immediately clear that Spanbauer does not want to shy away from taboo topics in this novel, ***SPOILERS On the surface, this book sounded exactly like the sort of book that I would thoroughly enjoy: an exploration of race, gender, sexuality and spirituality under a western backdrop. However, whilst these topics are touched upon, I was sorely disappointed by Spanbauer's preoccupation with 'dicks' and 'f**king' which ultimately ruined this book for me, along with the pointless conclusion. It becomes immediately clear that Spanbauer does not want to shy away from taboo topics in this novel, presented through his "dangerous writing" style. I went into this book aware that difficult topics would be addressed. However, I had issues with the ways in which these issues were fantasied about. For example, the incest involved was portrayed as idealistic and romantic - Shed is aware the Dellwood could be his father, but sleeps with him anyway in a romantic setting; and when Dellwood also realizes that they are father and son, they have another sexual encounter by a fire, under the moon. This fantasist eroticism about incest angered me, and I almost put the book down at this point, as Spanbauer did not provide any reasoning for the characters' actions, which left me feeling disconnected from them and frustrated with Spanbauer. Also, after Dellwood hacks Ida's legs off, the characters have a three way, which again is romanticized into a warped spiritual experience, when in reality, Ida is having two men performing sex acts against her whilst she is unconscious. Ida is then raped by the primary antagonist, and then after Shed saves her, he 'puts his dick in her' and has sex with her himself, again which is portrayed as spiritual, which completely ruined this scene for me. By the end, this book had infuriated me and I forced myself to finish it. The end really deflated me, as it cancels out the whole story: Shed is revealed to not even be Native American. So this whole journey he was on to be reunited with his heritage becomes farcical. For me, it seems that Spanbauer wanted to push the reader as far as he could for the ultimate shock factor. This came across as arrogant to me, and it's a shame as he ruined some potentially great scenes between the characters. Though, I did like Spanbauer's characterization. You felt like the individuals were actual people, and the town, Excellent, is commendably set up to feel alive and breathing. It's just a shame that I couldn't find any sort of likability for the characters due to their obsession with f**king.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Portuondo

    Excerpt: If the baby is a boy, and he reaches for the bow and feather--then you've got a boy, the Tybos figure, whose human-being sex story is the way every boy's sex story had better be. If the baby is a girl, and she reaches for the gourd and basket--then you got a girl whose human-being sex story is the way every girl's sex story had better be. But if the boy reaches for the gourd and basket, or if the girl reaches for the bow and feather, then in Tybo, you got a boy or you got a girl whose h Excerpt: If the baby is a boy, and he reaches for the bow and feather--then you've got a boy, the Tybos figure, whose human-being sex story is the way every boy's sex story had better be. If the baby is a girl, and she reaches for the gourd and basket--then you got a girl whose human-being sex story is the way every girl's sex story had better be. But if the boy reaches for the gourd and basket, or if the girl reaches for the bow and feather, then in Tybo, you got a boy or you got a girl whose human-being sex story is a sex story you got to shut up about. . . . Ida told the story of my test this way: “The Princess got all the girls together in her room, me and Ellen Finton, Gracie Hammer and herself. “There we were, the four excellent whores of Excellent, Idaho, and this baby boy. the Princess puts a feather and a bow on one side of the kid on the bed. She puts a gourd and a basket on the other side of him. Then she says to us, ‘Watch!’ So, we watch. The kid does nothing but lay there. We watch some more. He lays there some more. I’m about ready to give up on this test when the kid rolls over. First time in his life he’s rolled over! We all gasp and cheer and talk baby talk. Then, you’ll never believe it--what this kid did, you’ll never believe: he reaches up to me! To me! He grabs a hold of my feathers--my feathered boa! . . . He didn’t reach for the bow and the feather--he reached for the feathered boa.”

  20. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This is one of my favorite books ever. The main character is so wonderful, with a voice all his own that might make the book difficult to read initially, but like in real life, if you spend time with him you quickly learn to flow with his unique rhythm and language. So many lines are quotable for their simplicity, beauty, and clear-eyed wisdom. This is just a little taste: "Indian people talk about the mountain that Excellent, Idaho, is built in the shadow of--the mountain the morning sun rises This is one of my favorite books ever. The main character is so wonderful, with a voice all his own that might make the book difficult to read initially, but like in real life, if you spend time with him you quickly learn to flow with his unique rhythm and language. So many lines are quotable for their simplicity, beauty, and clear-eyed wisdom. This is just a little taste: "Indian people talk about the mountain that Excellent, Idaho, is built in the shadow of--the mountain the morning sun rises behind--how it is the reason why we're acting the way we are. Indian stories say the mountain has powered us here--snagged us. We may think we're here for this reason or for that reason. We may think that what we're doing is what we're doing, but really what we're doing is being snagged by the spirit of the mountain."

  21. 5 out of 5

    Bee

    I really don't know how to review this book. It's kinda like a Tom Robbins Western, but better written, more succinct. Pithy as hell. Some deep wisdom from years of people watching. Insights into you the reader as you look out at the world through the eye's of Out-In-The-Shed. Sad, and brightly hilarious. Yugen aplenty. The story of a family, a family of whores and half breeds, cowboys with mystical insight and Damn Dave and his Damn Dog. It's a story of people telling themselves their human-bei I really don't know how to review this book. It's kinda like a Tom Robbins Western, but better written, more succinct. Pithy as hell. Some deep wisdom from years of people watching. Insights into you the reader as you look out at the world through the eye's of Out-In-The-Shed. Sad, and brightly hilarious. Yugen aplenty. The story of a family, a family of whores and half breeds, cowboys with mystical insight and Damn Dave and his Damn Dog. It's a story of people telling themselves their human-being stories, and the drama that unfolds as we all try to look for something, but are in fact looking for something else entirely. There is so much love, and hope, and tons of sex, and drinking and opium and dicks. There's religion and then there's religion. And killdeer, killdeer everywhere. TL;DR, read it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Randal

    Queer as folktales. This is the kind of book I've been craving to read for a long time--and not just because it features a multiracial, bisexual boy raised in a turn-of-the-twentieth-century whorehouse. Yes, it's heavy-handed at times. A couple of key phrases are hammered home a bit too frequently. Race wanders in and out of the story like a bull that had sensitivity training before entering the china shop. And sex is presented either too bluntly or too abstractly. But there's a sweet mysticism to Queer as folktales. This is the kind of book I've been craving to read for a long time--and not just because it features a multiracial, bisexual boy raised in a turn-of-the-twentieth-century whorehouse. Yes, it's heavy-handed at times. A couple of key phrases are hammered home a bit too frequently. Race wanders in and out of the story like a bull that had sensitivity training before entering the china shop. And sex is presented either too bluntly or too abstractly. But there's a sweet mysticism to “The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon.” It's an old yarn told with a modern sensibility. And somehow the characters consistently read as archetype instead of caricature, making for a vivid and endearing tale about a wild, wild, bohemian West that probably never was.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Xhmko

    This book is extraordinary. There is no blushing or coy looks in this book. It is dirty and insightful. It is depraved and celebratory. It is essential reading for prude people who have would benefit immensely from this considered exploration of the delicate network of relationships in a frontier American brothel. This book makes me want to meet the author, not just to soak in his brilliance but to absorb his compassion and be infiltrated by his empathy. The mundanity of life below not-really-a-m This book is extraordinary. There is no blushing or coy looks in this book. It is dirty and insightful. It is depraved and celebratory. It is essential reading for prude people who have would benefit immensely from this considered exploration of the delicate network of relationships in a frontier American brothel. This book makes me want to meet the author, not just to soak in his brilliance but to absorb his compassion and be infiltrated by his empathy. The mundanity of life below not-really-a-mountain is as ever just the cloak for the mutations of spirituality and diverse approaches to soul seeking that the human experience can offer when engaged with in the profane.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Libby

    I have heard that Spanbauer is the king of "dangerous writing" and after reading this book I believe it. If you ever wondered about my e-mail address movesmoves, it refers to something in this novel. I have heard that Spanbauer is the king of "dangerous writing" and after reading this book I believe it. If you ever wondered about my e-mail address movesmoves, it refers to something in this novel.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alfie Paul

    I adored this book. It's a charming little tale of a band of misfits and really spoke to me about being different in a world of conformity. I'd add that I've read this several times, and given it to many people who have ended up loving it as much as me. I adored this book. It's a charming little tale of a band of misfits and really spoke to me about being different in a world of conformity. I'd add that I've read this several times, and given it to many people who have ended up loving it as much as me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    A crazy story about crazy people told by a crazy. Should only make you wonder. —p.21 Portland author Tom Spanbauer sure is more gray-haired in person than in the photo on the back cover of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon—but then, I'm a lot grayer than I was in 1991 as well. Spanbauer himself prompted me to explore his work, you see—I was part of the packed house for a reading he did during a recent benefit for a local drummer. Sure, I was really there to hear a band called Bloodkin, with who A crazy story about crazy people told by a crazy. Should only make you wonder. —p.21 Portland author Tom Spanbauer sure is more gray-haired in person than in the photo on the back cover of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon—but then, I'm a lot grayer than I was in 1991 as well. Spanbauer himself prompted me to explore his work, you see—I was part of the packed house for a reading he did during a recent benefit for a local drummer. Sure, I was really there to hear a band called Bloodkin, with whose lead singer I have a long-ago personal acquaintance... but before Bloodkin took the stage, Spanbauer told us about an unfortunate encounter between a local man with sagging pants and his local police, a lively piece that had us paralyzed with horrified laughter. I knew I had to find more. And—not unlike Spanbauer himself—this early novel has held up very well, despite the intervening years. The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon's prose is consistently fluid, versatile and assured, lyrical without being pretentious. A young man called Shed narrates The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon in an infectious Western drawl, a voice that begs to be read aloud, spoken around a cheroot clenched between the jaws:I remember dreams I didn't know were dreams, me flying high and graceful, not a sound but wind and if blue was a sound. —p.46Shed (it's short for "Out-in-the-shed") lives and works in and around the Indian Head Hotel—a whorehouse, to put it bluntly—owned by the freethinking madam Ida Richilieu, in the gold-mining town of Excellent, Idaho, in the early 1900s. Shed's not primarily a prostitute, at least to begin with, but it's one of the tasks he performs most often and well, out in that eponymous shed; Ida recognizes his talents and puts him to work long before Shed could be considered an adult. Rape, incest, murder and countless other smaller acts of violence abound as well—this is not a book for the squeamish or easily triggered, however beautifully it's written. And it is beautiful; in one memorable phrase, for example, Shed describes a lover as lying with him "hard-to-hard.""It's a half-breed pervert of a kid chasing a killdeer bird, looking in windows, at people inside, looking at who they think they are, how their story goes—and how they get away with it." —Dellwood Barker, p.218 You must be able to embrace ambiguity and alternate perspectives in order to fully appreciate this novel. Shed's sexuality is fluid. His race is uncertain. His moral compass is situational, and his perceptions often more than a little askew—and, to top it off, the book actually revels in spelling. The correct way to spell "P-E-R-N-I-C-I-O-U-S" even becomes a significant plot point, eventually—since the Mormons who have taken over Excellent can't spell that word to save their... souls. But the saints really don't come off very well anyway, anywhere in this book. From the very beginning of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon, we're rooting for the sinners. "Takes a devil to make a decent angel." —Ida Richilieu, p.184The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon is transgressive but never self-consciously so; mystical but never credulous; respectful of the Native cultures from whom it borrows a voice; and inclusive in a time when that was a lot harder than it is now. I would put it alongside the work of authors like Mark Twain, William S. Burroughs, Tom Robbins and Richard Brautigan—all American writers (all-American writers) with an unmistakable tang and twang to their words."There's really only a very short time that we get hair and teeth and put on red cloth and have bones and skin and look out eyes. Not for long. Some folks longer than others. If you're lucky, you'll get to be the one who tells the story: how the eyes have seen, the hair has blown, the caress the skin has felt, how the bones have ached. "What the human heart is like," he said. —Dellwood Barker, p.45

  27. 5 out of 5

    Candi Sary

    "The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon" is like no other book I've ever read. Spanbauer is a fabulous storyteller! He does something magical on the pages as he brings his characters and scenes to life. The book's unique perspective of the Old West is fascinating. Yes, his characters are flawed and sometimes behave in ways that made me uncomfortable, but that's part of what makes the book so interesting. I read a review where the reader gave the book a low rating in part because she thought the "The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon" is like no other book I've ever read. Spanbauer is a fabulous storyteller! He does something magical on the pages as he brings his characters and scenes to life. The book's unique perspective of the Old West is fascinating. Yes, his characters are flawed and sometimes behave in ways that made me uncomfortable, but that's part of what makes the book so interesting. I read a review where the reader gave the book a low rating in part because she thought the mother was such a terrible person. I love when fiction offers "terrible people" and presents their stories so thoroughly that we might understand why they did what they did. I love a true exploration of human nature, not a safe, ideal presentation. Spanbauer doesn't hold back with his characters. He shows the ugly, the beautiful, the unspoken and the outrageous, creating a story so raw and honest, it's hard not to get caught up in his bizarre world. I opened my mind, stepped outside of myself, and just took in the experience. Every day I looked forward to picking up the book as I had no idea what to expect next! This is a most memorable and thought-provoking read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cynthia Sillitoe

    Okay, so there's story behind this book in my house. My mom loved it, but every time she read it, she teased me about the age I had to be to read it. 18, 21, 25, 30. Last time she read it, she said I had to be 40. I was 33 when she died and I set it aside as my 40th birthday present from my mom. First off, I wish it were on Kindle because the font is small and I tend to skim things. Second, just a little more sperm and ejaculation than I care to read about and a little too much romanticizing abo Okay, so there's story behind this book in my house. My mom loved it, but every time she read it, she teased me about the age I had to be to read it. 18, 21, 25, 30. Last time she read it, she said I had to be 40. I was 33 when she died and I set it aside as my 40th birthday present from my mom. First off, I wish it were on Kindle because the font is small and I tend to skim things. Second, just a little more sperm and ejaculation than I care to read about and a little too much romanticizing about sex work. I mean, I guess if you like to have sex, it's a good line of business to go into, but not a lot of dwelling on the abuse that can go on. In fact, considering one character had been raped, it seemed like maybe that person might want a different kind of work, but that doesn't seem to be a problem. Also, neither I nor my dad (who is a Mormon historian) have ever heard of a Mormon being called the Reverend Brother So-and-So, though as my dad points out, Idaho is its own Kingdom. So why the four stars? Some amazing characters, writing, and plot twists. I think I'll read it again in a few years and see if I like it more.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dena Guzman

    I first read this book in college, I think. I remember getting it on sale. I was intrigued by the cover. I read it up so fast; such excellent storytelling. Over the years, I have met other people who have read this book (at the time I lived in Las Vegas and barely knew anyone who read to begin with) and the opinions vary so much. I think it's one of the best told stories I've ever read. I do see issues with portrayals of gender/race/sexuality, of course. And I am sensitive to those things and al I first read this book in college, I think. I remember getting it on sale. I was intrigued by the cover. I read it up so fast; such excellent storytelling. Over the years, I have met other people who have read this book (at the time I lived in Las Vegas and barely knew anyone who read to begin with) and the opinions vary so much. I think it's one of the best told stories I've ever read. I do see issues with portrayals of gender/race/sexuality, of course. And I am sensitive to those things and always notice them but I am also of the firm opinion that all art and literature do not have to do everything right or to the standards of the standard keepers every time. I don't know the author's motivation here. Was it ignorance or intentional toying with stereotype? I don't know. I liked the book. A lot. I still own the copy I got all those years ago. I'm not too sentimental, so this says something.

  30. 4 out of 5

    George K. Ilsley

    I remember liking this book, but I read it long ago. I remember liking it because the historical setting was unusual. I remember the language was beautiful. I remember it was different that the other "gay" books of the day. I remember wanting to read it again, and now I wonder, do I have a copy? Where is it? Did I thrust it upon someone, never to see it again? That's what happens with the best books. I remember liking this book, but I read it long ago. I remember liking it because the historical setting was unusual. I remember the language was beautiful. I remember it was different that the other "gay" books of the day. I remember wanting to read it again, and now I wonder, do I have a copy? Where is it? Did I thrust it upon someone, never to see it again? That's what happens with the best books.

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