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With a voice that is both sophisticated and deeply Southern, author John Rowell evokes the memory of the great Truman Capote in this wonderful collection of short stories, peopled with unforgettable, endearing characters and filled with wry insights. Drawn from the emotional well of a young man who grew up in love with the glittery, glamorous world of music and movies and t With a voice that is both sophisticated and deeply Southern, author John Rowell evokes the memory of the great Truman Capote in this wonderful collection of short stories, peopled with unforgettable, endearing characters and filled with wry insights. Drawn from the emotional well of a young man who grew up in love with the glittery, glamorous world of music and movies and theater—far removed from his own more prosaic life in North Carolina—and informed with honesty and compassion, the seven short stories that comprise The Music of Your Life showcase the talent of a remarkably gifted writer. Compulsively readable and always accessible, each story takes the reader into the mind and heart of its central character, whether a young boy suffering from Lawrence Welk damage and teetering precariously on the edge of puberty ("The Music of Your Life") or a not-so-young-anymore man for whom fantasy and reality have become a terrifying blur and who finds himself slipping over the edge toward total meltdown ("Wildlife of Coastal Carolina"). Nostalgia plays a part in these stories as a somewhat jaded New York film critic looks back on his life and the movies that shaped him ("Spectators in Love"), and an aging flower-shop owner ruefully assesses the love he found and lost when, as an eighteen-year-old, he embarked on a Hollywood career that never soared but did include one particularly memorable appearance on the I Love Lucy television show ("Who Loves You?") These stories all create entire worlds within which the characters live and struggle to find their way. Funny, touching, serious, and tender, the tales within The Music of Your Life are sure to appeal to anyone who has ever known the awkwardness of being "different," and while life is often harsh for the stories' characters, the bold determination with which they persevere offers inspiration to all.


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With a voice that is both sophisticated and deeply Southern, author John Rowell evokes the memory of the great Truman Capote in this wonderful collection of short stories, peopled with unforgettable, endearing characters and filled with wry insights. Drawn from the emotional well of a young man who grew up in love with the glittery, glamorous world of music and movies and t With a voice that is both sophisticated and deeply Southern, author John Rowell evokes the memory of the great Truman Capote in this wonderful collection of short stories, peopled with unforgettable, endearing characters and filled with wry insights. Drawn from the emotional well of a young man who grew up in love with the glittery, glamorous world of music and movies and theater—far removed from his own more prosaic life in North Carolina—and informed with honesty and compassion, the seven short stories that comprise The Music of Your Life showcase the talent of a remarkably gifted writer. Compulsively readable and always accessible, each story takes the reader into the mind and heart of its central character, whether a young boy suffering from Lawrence Welk damage and teetering precariously on the edge of puberty ("The Music of Your Life") or a not-so-young-anymore man for whom fantasy and reality have become a terrifying blur and who finds himself slipping over the edge toward total meltdown ("Wildlife of Coastal Carolina"). Nostalgia plays a part in these stories as a somewhat jaded New York film critic looks back on his life and the movies that shaped him ("Spectators in Love"), and an aging flower-shop owner ruefully assesses the love he found and lost when, as an eighteen-year-old, he embarked on a Hollywood career that never soared but did include one particularly memorable appearance on the I Love Lucy television show ("Who Loves You?") These stories all create entire worlds within which the characters live and struggle to find their way. Funny, touching, serious, and tender, the tales within The Music of Your Life are sure to appeal to anyone who has ever known the awkwardness of being "different," and while life is often harsh for the stories' characters, the bold determination with which they persevere offers inspiration to all.

30 review for The Music of Your Life: Stories

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Cates

    Short story collection - enjoyed them, some more than others - a peek in to the "gay" world, but not overly - radical thought - they are like all the rest of us in there hopes and fears - I'm surprised Rowell isn't better known - none of the local libraries have his work - pity Short story collection - enjoyed them, some more than others - a peek in to the "gay" world, but not overly - radical thought - they are like all the rest of us in there hopes and fears - I'm surprised Rowell isn't better known - none of the local libraries have his work - pity

  2. 5 out of 5

    Theresa Lynch

    I may sound like a broken record to those who know me, but being a mom changes everything. As the mom of two amazing boys (4 and 2), I read this book filled with humor and pain and thought - what if these characters were my boys? What messages am I sending to them now when they are young that will stay with them throughout their lives? What values, what kindness, what acceptance do they see modeled by my hub and I? I hope I can fill my boys with confidence, love, and an excellent sense of humor. I may sound like a broken record to those who know me, but being a mom changes everything. As the mom of two amazing boys (4 and 2), I read this book filled with humor and pain and thought - what if these characters were my boys? What messages am I sending to them now when they are young that will stay with them throughout their lives? What values, what kindness, what acceptance do they see modeled by my hub and I? I hope I can fill my boys with confidence, love, and an excellent sense of humor. Because that is what will see them through, I do believe. This book reinforces all of these imperatives, and does so in an engaging, humorous, and very genuine way. I cannot wait to read more from Mr.Rowell. Bravo!

  3. 5 out of 5

    James Garman

    This is not a novel, but rather a series of longish short stories about different characters who happen to be gay, many of them in some form of theater adjacent jobs. Some of them are older and are looking back at their younger years, and some are young looking forward to life. They all have a North Carolina connection which makes sense since that is where the author was raised. He even manages to incorporate a certain.."southern flare" to the way the people talk and has a remarkable insight into This is not a novel, but rather a series of longish short stories about different characters who happen to be gay, many of them in some form of theater adjacent jobs. Some of them are older and are looking back at their younger years, and some are young looking forward to life. They all have a North Carolina connection which makes sense since that is where the author was raised. He even manages to incorporate a certain.."southern flare" to the way the people talk and has a remarkable insight into southern small town living in the stories where that is called for. All the main protagonists are gay and are struggling to find love and some form of family in their lives.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Fatma Jeragh

    I loved 2 of the stories (I think out of 7) The rest were okay

  5. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Rowell’s stories are somewhat compelling, he obviously has talent for descriptive writing, his dialogue is fairly realistic. Unfortunately, many of his characters, whom we are meant to sympathize with, are incredibly unlikeable. From the start of the book until about two stories from the end, I was trying to figure out what was amok with his writing and near the end of the book, I figured it out. His problem is that the characters all have the same voice. Whether the story is told in first or thi Rowell’s stories are somewhat compelling, he obviously has talent for descriptive writing, his dialogue is fairly realistic. Unfortunately, many of his characters, whom we are meant to sympathize with, are incredibly unlikeable. From the start of the book until about two stories from the end, I was trying to figure out what was amok with his writing and near the end of the book, I figured it out. His problem is that the characters all have the same voice. Whether the story is told in first or third person, third person limited or omniscient, the voice somehow manages to be the same. And I don’t mean in that the author’s voice was consistent, I mean that the character was consistent. All this said, the last three stories were quite good. My favorite was the very last story, “Wildlife of Coastal Carolina,” the tale of a man in a small coastal town, dealing with depression and guilt. This character was every bit as grouchy as the other characters, but I somehow felt that he had more right to be. Prior to that, I was sympathetic to the character in “Delegates,” and I found “Spectators in Love” to be intriguing and sad.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Mark Harris

    It was the first few sentences of the first story in this collection that made me decide to buy it: "You're ten years old. It's summertime. And you have Lawrence Welk damage. You are, in fact, America's biggest little fan of the The Lawrence Welk Show." I had to find out where the author would go with that. What followed were stories--seven in all--steeped in nostalgia for familiar times. (I am probably about the same age as the author. I also had the Mary Poppins soundtrack record.) For the most It was the first few sentences of the first story in this collection that made me decide to buy it: "You're ten years old. It's summertime. And you have Lawrence Welk damage. You are, in fact, America's biggest little fan of the The Lawrence Welk Show." I had to find out where the author would go with that. What followed were stories--seven in all--steeped in nostalgia for familiar times. (I am probably about the same age as the author. I also had the Mary Poppins soundtrack record.) For the most part, these are "coming-of-age" stories of a young gay man. I was most fascinated and enchanted by the pre-"coming-of-age" narratives of childhood, but all the stories were full of sharp observation, sympathy, and pathos. I was deeply disappointed to learn this was the author's only book, as I would have read all the others. One hopes more will be forthcoming in time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Barry Levy

    How did I miss this book when it came out (no pun intended)? And where did John Rowell come from? This is an extremely impressive literary debut and some of the best gay fiction I have read in years. The stories, seven of them, are funny, witty, poignant, moving, while always remaining honest and insightful. And that photograph on the book jacket cover..! I wish John Rowell a long and successful literary career and look forward to reading even more of his books in the future.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    These stories are all variations on a few themes: growing up gay in small towns, Southern settings, the fabulosity of popular culture and it's effects on our lives. They are drawn with a light but careful hand, vivid dialogue and attention to atmosphere and shadings of emotion. I particularly enjoyed the title story and "The Mother-of-the-Groom and I." Overall, the collection has a nostalgic, bittersweet air that lingers like the splash of a good cologne. These stories are all variations on a few themes: growing up gay in small towns, Southern settings, the fabulosity of popular culture and it's effects on our lives. They are drawn with a light but careful hand, vivid dialogue and attention to atmosphere and shadings of emotion. I particularly enjoyed the title story and "The Mother-of-the-Groom and I." Overall, the collection has a nostalgic, bittersweet air that lingers like the splash of a good cologne.

  9. 4 out of 5

    John

    Rowell is a very good and descriptive writer. I think he writes to a more general audience versus a gay audience. However, the stories give a clear expression of life in small southern areas and being gay or different.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Dionesotes

    This is a book of marvelously written short stories. Clever without being over the top. Each story has a gay theme and gay characters who truly seem to be real people. A good read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Shona

    Okay...I didn't actually finish it, but I tried. Okay...I didn't actually finish it, but I tried.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Martin

    He does poignancy much better than humor. An enjoyable collection.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Meg Clayton

    stories

  14. 4 out of 5

    Terrence

    I rated this four stars just because the title story is so goddamn phenomenal. the rest ... eh.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marcia

  16. 4 out of 5

    Noe

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tiffany

  18. 4 out of 5

    Robin

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ricky

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jason

  23. 4 out of 5

    Doug Allen

  24. 5 out of 5

    JH

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Kennedy

  26. 4 out of 5

    Elise

  27. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Joan Perry

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Siperly

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kerri

  30. 4 out of 5

    Liz

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