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Sugarless (2009)

af James Magruder

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
749276,838 (3.53)2
Things look bad for Rick Lahrem, a high school sophomore in a cookie-cutter Chicago suburb in 1976. His mother's second husband is a licensed psychologist who eats like an ape, his stepsister is a stoner slut, and his father is engaged to a Southern belle. Rick's only solace is his growing collection of original Broadway-cast LPs, bought on the sly at Wax Trax.     After he brings two girls in speech class to tears by reading a story aloud, Rick is coaxed onto the interscholastic forensics team to perform an eight-minute dramatic interpretation of The Boys in the Band, the controversial sixties play about homosexuality. Unexpectedly successful at this oddball event, Rick begins winning tournaments and making friends with his teammates.     Rick also discovers the joys of sex--with a speech coach from a rival school--just as his mother, reacting to a deteriorating home environment, makes an unnerving commitment to Christ. The newly confident Rick assumes this too shall pass--until the combined forces of family, sex, and faith threaten to undo him at the state meet in Peoria.     James Magruder's Sugarless offers a ruefully entertaining take on the simultaneous struggles of coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-Jesus.     A selection of InsightOut Book Club   Finalist, Lambda Book Award for Gay Debut Fiction, Lambda Literary Foundation   Finalist, TLA Gaybie Award for Best Gay Fiction   Semi-finalist, James Branch Cabell First Novelist Award, Virginia Commonwealth University   Semi-finalist, William Saroyan International Prize For Writing, Stanford University… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 9 (næste | vis alle)
In some ways, this should have been a YA novel and in other ways, it's clearly an adult novel. It's the story of a high school boy who is fighting a constant battle to figure out who he is. Magruder's style is engrossing, as is the tale he tells. Rick joins the speech team (after reading my favorite short story of all time, The Scarlet Ibis) and ends up falling in love. Along the way, he learns about being gay, about sex and about his family. Sugarless is far more intense than the title and cover lead you to believe and perhaps that's the point. A very good coming of age story. ( )
  callmecayce | Feb 16, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
A good coming-of-age book about a young gay man and his journey. The author uses high school speech competitions as the backdrop of the story - something new for the genre; it works very well. Juxtaposed with Rick's coming to terms and coming out is his mother's increasing commitment to religion. A subject that Magruder gives a bang-on description of.
All-in-all, after reading this book, one feels that the coming-out experience of gay men doesn't change very much over the years.
  ClifSven | Jan 4, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This is the "coming-of-age" story of high schooler Rick Lahrem. The book lacks a clear purpose, the plot is sketchy, and characterization is shallow. It's strongest in its portrayal of Rick's passion for speech (dramatic interpretation) but falls short in building believable relationships between characters. In particular, the treatment of Rick's relationship with an older man, a DI judge and speech coach from another school, feels off. Except for a mention that Rick longs to be loved, Magruder gives readers little idea of what goes through Rick's mind as he gets involved with a man more than double his age, a situation that feels uncomfortable to say the least. Considering all the time spent on describing various character's genitals, some characterization and glimpse into Rick's thought processes would be nice. Much of the humor relies on mocking characters who lives as one-sided stereotypes, such as the zealous evangelicals and "stoner sluts." I kept waiting for the story to come together, and in the end it did, but it felt forced. Not a book I'll read again. ( )
1 stem csoki637 | Jan 4, 2010 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I very much enjoyed this book. It was cleverly written and the main character was very easy to identify with. The author captured the era of the story perfectly.

The only thing that was a little jarring was how the story jumped around. It was difficult to tell if it was jump forward or backward and sometimes felt like important pieces of the story were missing. Once I felt like I must have missed reading part of the book.

Overall, though, it was an enjoyable read and one I couldn't put down. ( )
  pezazul | Dec 20, 2009 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
James Magruder's Sugarless is my favorite book of 2009. In the book, Rick--the narrator--looks back on a formative period in his life with astonishing insight and nostalgia, feeling again, through the telling of them, all of the thrills and anguish of becoming an adult. It offers the reader the vicarious pleasure of watching Rick negotiate his initiation into the sexual world, and then complicates that pleasure with honest depictions of the failure, loss, and grief which constitute mature self-awareness and social existence.

Along the way, we experience surprisingly clear yet complex descriptions of Rick's self-discovery: puzzling out the tangles of sexual desire, family, and social relationships, and of the ways that people talk around and about both the important and trivial things of life. As confusion resolves into certainty, Rick, his world, and the important people in it hurtle with all of the intensity of adolescence to a crisis as unexpected as it seems inevitable. Rick's conflicts and strength and emotional landscape shine through the prose with amazing clarity. The last chapter, in which an older Rick looks back on his life, expresses the losses of youth with a beautifully understated profundity.

I wholeheartedly agree with Tony Kushner's applause: "The texture of Rick's world and the details of his experience ring true and important, with emotional depths that warrant and reward repeated re-readings" (from the back of the book).

I definitely recommend that you take a look at the website for the novel--it has a great trailer (when did books start having trailers, anyway?) and lots of interesting tidbits about the author and his work: http://www.jamesmagruder.com/ ( )
  the_darling_copilots | Dec 20, 2009 |
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Things look bad for Rick Lahrem, a high school sophomore in a cookie-cutter Chicago suburb in 1976. His mother's second husband is a licensed psychologist who eats like an ape, his stepsister is a stoner slut, and his father is engaged to a Southern belle. Rick's only solace is his growing collection of original Broadway-cast LPs, bought on the sly at Wax Trax.     After he brings two girls in speech class to tears by reading a story aloud, Rick is coaxed onto the interscholastic forensics team to perform an eight-minute dramatic interpretation of The Boys in the Band, the controversial sixties play about homosexuality. Unexpectedly successful at this oddball event, Rick begins winning tournaments and making friends with his teammates.     Rick also discovers the joys of sex--with a speech coach from a rival school--just as his mother, reacting to a deteriorating home environment, makes an unnerving commitment to Christ. The newly confident Rick assumes this too shall pass--until the combined forces of family, sex, and faith threaten to undo him at the state meet in Peoria.     James Magruder's Sugarless offers a ruefully entertaining take on the simultaneous struggles of coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming-to-Jesus.     A selection of InsightOut Book Club   Finalist, Lambda Book Award for Gay Debut Fiction, Lambda Literary Foundation   Finalist, TLA Gaybie Award for Best Gay Fiction   Semi-finalist, James Branch Cabell First Novelist Award, Virginia Commonwealth University   Semi-finalist, William Saroyan International Prize For Writing, Stanford University

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