THE MAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE MOON by Tom Spanbauer

THE MAN WHO FELL IN LOVE WITH THE MOON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Gender and racial lines are bent out of shape in this tale of turn-of-the-century Idaho spun by a youth who is part Indian, not quite wholly homosexual, and in the grip of a powerful imagination. Spanbauer (Faraway Places, 1988) creates a pansexual West that John Wayne wouldn't have recognized. The narrator, brought up in an earthy but idealized whorehouse in the small town of Excellent, is called ``Shed,'' because it's out in the shed where he turns his tricks--from about age 12 on--after his full-blooded-Indian mother is murdered. He also has the Indian name of Duivichi-un-Dua, the meaning of which he seeks to discover. He feels some kinship to the Berdache, male Indians who lived as women before the uptight whites put a stop to it. In Excellent, the enemies of erotic and other pleasures are the patriarchal Mormons, who are pictured as rabidly racist as well. Meanwhile, the narrative voice, at its worst, is false naive; at its best, strong and vivid, creating an oddly convincing world as seen by someone on locoweed and whiskey. Shed forms a family with Ida Richelieu, the whorehouse proprietor and a whore herself; Alma Hatch, Ida's colleague and bedmate; and cowboy Dellwood Barker, who may be Shed's father but is most certainly his lover. Freud would have had a field day. The 384 pages offer plenty of plot twists, humor, graphic but not prurient sex, didacticisms, some magic realism (North American-style) and a consistent view of life that might be termed ``rebellious romanticism'' for the 1990's. A different view of the West where the bisexuals and prostitutes wear the white hats, gender is up for grabs, and every permutation of love will have its way.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1991
ISBN: 0-87113-468-3
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1991




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