I Say a Little Prayer

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A USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post BestsellerChauncey Greer, the suave and successful owner of the Cute Boy Greeting Card Company, never wants for the attention of guys just as hot as he is. After a couple of bad dates Chauncey finds himself in church, where the minister’s message inspires him to return to the singing career he had launched as a teenager. Things heat up when Chauncey’s rediscovered singing talent lands him in the middle of a protest over homophobia in the black church, and Chauncey’s ...
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2006-05-02 Hardcover First Edition New NEW: First Edition, First printing, with a complete # line for you collectors. Hardcover with faint shelfwear to dust jacket (2006), ... otherwise no markings, no price clippings to dust jacket, not a Book Club Edition and no remainder marks. Satisfaction Guaranteed. Ships next business day or sooner. Read more Show Less

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I Say a Little Prayer

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A USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post BestsellerChauncey Greer, the suave and successful owner of the Cute Boy Greeting Card Company, never wants for the attention of guys just as hot as he is. After a couple of bad dates Chauncey finds himself in church, where the minister’s message inspires him to return to the singing career he had launched as a teenager. Things heat up when Chauncey’s rediscovered singing talent lands him in the middle of a protest over homophobia in the black church, and Chauncey’s old singing partner–and former lover–makes a dramatic and unexpected entrance.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Harris takes a sympathetic look at the difficulty of reconciling homosexuality and faith in the black church in his lively ninth novel. Thirty-eight-year old Chauncey Greer classifies his heft sexual appetite as basically bi with a gay leaning; but also needs a personal relationship with God. Once a member of a boy band called Reunion (his deeply felt love affair with fellow bandmate Sweet D precipitated its breakup), Chauncey now owns a successful Atlanta-based greeting card company. Chauncey is a regular at the progressive Abundant Joy Baptist Church, where Pastor Kenneth s inspired preaching reignites his dreams of a singing career. After Chauncey sings a soul-stirring solo at church, the pastor invites him to perform at an upcoming revival led by the fundamentalist Bishop Upchurch and his vindictive wife Grayson. But Chauncey s friends plan to boycott the revival because of the Upchurches gay-bashing, and Chauncey must decide between his passion for singing and his personal identity a decision complicated by the reappearance of a figure from his past. Though supporting characters remain flat, Harris (A Love of My Own) illuminates a divide in the black church while exploring the universal theme of broken love. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
On the brink, Chauncey returns to church and is inspired to resume his music career-which leads straight to thoughts of the man who inspired his old songs. Then he discovers that the forthcoming revival meeting is turning into an antigay rally. With a national tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A gay Atlanta businessman struggles to make peace with his faith and sexuality when his first love unexpectedly reappears. With a successful greeting-card company, chic apartment and no shortage of handsome male admirers, Chauncey Greer has much to be thankful for. And he shows his gratitude every Sunday by attending services at Abundant Joy, a moderately sized church where he feels accepted, "measured by the love I have in my heart and not the lust I have in my head." It is during one rousing service that he finds himself haunted by his past, and the singing career he gave up far too soon. As a teenage member of R&B boy band Reunion, Chauncey briefly tasted fame, until his close relationship with bandmate Sweet D tore the group apart. Ready for a comeback, Chauncey is understandably excited when his pastor taps him to sing at a revival headlined by up-and-coming minister and senatorial candidate Bishop Damien Upchurch. His joy turns to dismay when he finds out that the young bishop is none other than Sweet D, all grown up and running on a conservative-and rabidly anti-gay-platform. Chauncey is then torn between outing the hypocritical preacher and keeping his private life private. To add to this stress, Chauncey is menaced by a studly wannabe-be blackmailer and confronted by Damien's nasty shrew of a wife, Grayson, who wants to make sure that nothing stands in the way of her Election Day plans. Harris's addictive latest (A Love of My Own, 2003, etc.) manages to capture both the erotic heat and spiritual fervor of Chauncey's world, as the man is forced to face the choices he has made, and the fact that he has been unable to enjoy a committed relationship since parting with Sweet D. Thestory ends somewhat quickly with a silly soap opera twist that does little to cloud its inspiring message of spiritual love and inclusion. Moving and honest exploration of sex, sin and redemption.
From the Publisher
“Vintage Harris...A story filled with sex, humor and plenty of plot twists.”—Ebony“From naked cocktail parties to religious conundrums, the “Godfather of the Down Low” gives you just the right amount of raunchiness and redemption in his latest.” —Upscale “Heartfelt.” —Essence“Harris’s addictive latest...capture[s] both the erotic heat and spiritual fervor of Chauncey’s world....[A] moving and honest exploration of sex, sin, and redemption.” —Kirkus“What’s got audiences hooked? Harris’s unique spin on the ever-fascinating topics of identity, class, intimacy, sexuality, and friendship.” —Vibe“Thank God for E. Lynn Harris.” —Philadelphia Inquirer“The man who helped put the down low on the cultural map returns with another sexy page-turner.” —Out
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385512725
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/2/2006
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.34 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T for 13 years while living in Dallas, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He finally quit his sales job to write his first novel, Invisible Life, and, failing to find a publisher, he published it himself in 1991 before he was "discovered" by Anchor Books. Anchor published Invisible Life as a trade paperback in 1994. Invisible Life was followed by Just As I Am (1994), And This Too Shall Pass (1996), If This World Were Mine (1997), and Abide With Me (1999), all published by Doubleday. Harris's sixth novel, Not A Day Goes By (July 2000) debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. His seventh novel, Any Way the Wind Blows (July 2001), also debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. His most recent novel, A Love of My Own (July 2002), was a national bestseller as well. What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted (July 2003), Harris's first non fiction work, debuted at #6 on the New York Times bestseller list making E. Lynn the first African American male to appear on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. Currently, there are over three million copies of Harris's novels in print. For more: www.elynnharris.com


Jackie Collins has kept the literary romance world well stocked with claws-out, upper-crust melodramas. But until E. Lynn Harris came along, the genre lacked a little ... diversity. Harris brought diversity and then some, with his now-trademark "buppie" characters, questions about sexuality, and hopelessly (but deliciously) complicated relationships.

Written from both male and female points of view and featuring recurring characters, Harris's books can be read as a veritable soap opera. The cycle begins with Invisible Life, the story of Raymond Winston Tyler Jr. -- a character Harris has acknowledged bears many similarities to himself. Raymond grapples with his sexuality, developing a relationship with a man he meets in law school and jeopardizing one with his girlfriend. His coming-of-age continues over the next two novels in the trilogy, Just As I Am and Abide with Me, as he struggles with losses of friends to AIDS, the ending of a relationship with an actress, and the beginning of a new one with a man.

Another recurring Harris character, Basil Henderson, is the man readers love to hate. An arrogant, badass football player-turned-sports agent, Basil beds both women and men until he meets up with his female (and later, male) counterparts. His story is mainly told in Not a Day Goes By and Any Way the Wind Blows.

It's true that in the Basil Henderson books, Harris is taking a saucy cue or two from his female romance novel predecessors; but the author claims to be more heavily influenced by writers such as Maya Angelou and Terry McMillan, and it would be misleading to pigeonhole his books as purely guilty pleasures. Particularly in his earlier books, Harris brought to a mainstream readership the issues that many gay and bisexual men face, and added a new voice to the portrayal of black, upwardly mobile characters. And in books such as If This World Were Mine and the young adult novel Diaries of a Light-Skinned Colored Boy, he has addressed issues of race and self-realization.

Given his themes, it may seem surprising that the majority of Harris's readers are straight women; but it's also a testament to his ability to write about love and self-discovery with humor, not to mention a little steaminess.

Good To Know

Harris worked as a salesman for IBM, and earned a following by self-publishing Invisible Life before getting a book deal.

He was tapped to write the screenplay for an update of the 1976 movie Sparkle, to be produced by Whitney Houston's production company. But with the death of Aaliyah, who was attached to star, the project's future is uncertain.

He lived most of his adult life in Chicago, Illinois.

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    1. Hometown:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 20, 1955
    2. Place of Birth:
      Flint, Michigan
    1. Date of Death:
      July 23, 2009
    2. Place of Death:
      Los Angeles, California

Read an Excerpt

I Say a Little Prayer

By E. Lynn Harris

Random House

E. Lynn Harris
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385512724

Chapter One


There are times when I think that I, Chauncey Dion Greer, am passing through this life on my way to the life God really planned for me. Then, at other times, I think that God must have a wicked sense of humor. Who knew? How else could you explain me sitting here in the green room at CNN on Election Eve, sweating like a fat man in a sauna wearing a warm-up suit, and staring at a tray of sliced melons? I don't know if I'm about to do something noble or if I'm about to get P-I-M-P-E-D.

It's not like my life has been without its good moments. Whenever I'm stressed out, I think back to the days when I went fishing with my daddy, and I begin to smile inside. We'd stop at Reverend Nick's Bait and Tackle with our fishing gear, purchase our supplies, and then pack it all together with the peanut butter and homemade straw-
berry jam sandwiches that my mother would make for our lunch. All the way to Blue Lake, we'd brag about the fish we were going to catch. I also remember when I won my first songwriting contest when I was sixteen. And, of course, I'll never forget when I met him.

Still, something happens to your soul when the expiration date on your love life comes and goes before you turn twenty-five. Was I getting ready to share that love life with the world because I thought it mattered, or because Iwanted to finally get revenge? Was I trying to do the right thing, or just wanting to settle the score with the person I had once loved the most but I now despised?

I stood up, glanced at the mirror on the wall, and straightened my tie. I stared at my reflection, checking to see if the makeup artist hadn't applied too much powder to my mink-colored skin and if it would really prevent me from shining once the studio lights hit my face.

Just as I picked up a small paper plate and headed for some melon, a high, annoying voice whispered into my ear.

"Mr. Greer, we have a small problem."

I turned and faced the tall, thin, pale woman with freckles dominating her oval face. Her strawberry-blond hair was pulled back in a cheerleader's ponytail.

"Excuse me," I said.

"I'm Lauren Masterson, the executive producer of Larry King Live. Thank you for coming," she said as she extended her ringless hand.

"What happened to Mr. Gains?" I asked.

"He's coming down in a few, but I need to explain something." She motioned toward the red leather couch, and we sat down. Lowering her voice so the other guests in the green room couldn't hear her, she continued. "I think you spoke with one of our associate producers, Dana Wynn, and she agreed to interview you with your face in shadow and your voice disguised," she said.

I nodded. "Yes, both she and Mr. Gains promised me that we'd do it that way. That's the only reason I agreed to do the interview."

"Yes, Mr. Greer, and I know this is a very private matter for you, but I just don't think the interview will have the punch we need if you're not willing to reveal your identity. These are very serious charges that you are alleging against a man who could be elected U.S. senator within the next twenty-four hours and tip the scales as to who controls the Senate. The repercussions could be far-reaching."

"I understand that, but I only agreed to do the interview one way," I said firmly.

She shook her head, unwavering. "I'm sorry about what you were promised, but we simply can't do it that way." She paused. "Mr. Greer, this is live television, and I need to know if you're going to go on and tell your story just as you are."

For what seemed like an exceedingly long moment, we sat face-to-face in total silence. I pondered my choices. Either decision would change my life as I knew it.

What should I do?

What would I do?

Excerpted from I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Reading Group Guide

1. The story of Chauncey’s past is interspersed with the main narrative. What does Harris achieve by telling the two stories simultaneously? In what ways do the past and the present play out against one another as the plot unfolds?

2. Chauncey calls himself “a reformed heartbreaker trying to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with other people” [p. 9]. Does “doing the right thing” require more than just “being honest and saying what’s what” [p. 11] with the men he briefly hooks up with? Are there consequences–to himself, as well as to his partners–that he doesn’t recognize or refuses to acknowledge? Is Chauncey’s casual approach to dating and sex widespread among men today, both straight and gay? Is the pattern common among women as well?

3. How has the growth of mega churches changed the practice of religion in contemporary America? Have these large, and usually wealthy, organizations abandoned the essential role of a church in the community? Is it possible to argue that a mega church, through its very size and marketing efforts, can attract Christians looking for a place to renew or rediscover their spirituality?

4. What was your reaction to the private party Chauncey attends [pp. 49—57]? Are the graphic descriptions of the various sexual encounters at the sex club, as well as other explicit scenes in the novel, integral to portraying Chauncey and his lifestyle in an accurate, realistic way?

5. Discuss Chauncey’s musings on sin [p. 58]. Do they express your own religious beliefs or moral principles? What specific values influence your judgments of your own and other people’s behavior? Is there an absolute moral code that applies to everyone or do individuals, religious authorities, or community standards define right and wrong?

6. Chauncey gives an important job to a new printer because he wants to “give a small black business a chance” [p. 66]. Do successful black businessmen have a duty to support other businesses within the black community? Is making a business decision on the basis of race (or gender or sexual preference) a form of discrimination?

7. Reverend Davis delivers a powerful sermon encouraging his followers to vote [p. 159]. Does the discussion of political or civic matters have a place in the church? Are there issues that religious leaders should not address? Have you experienced or read about incidents in which a minister, priest, or rabbi has crossed the line separating church and state? Is the political establishment guilty of bringing religious considerations into government policies and practices? Do you agree, for example, with Vincent’s claim that President Bush’s faith-based initiatives “get . . . ministers to sing his tune” [p. 221]?

8. Reverend Davis is aware of Damien and Grayson Upchurch’s ultraconservative views, yet he is eager to have him come to Abundant Joy. Are his explanations to Chauncey [pp. 178, 230—32] satisfactory? What are the ramifications, both good and bad, of giving Damien a forum to express his views?

9. Does the conversation between Chauncey and Damien [pp. 251—53] cast a different light on their past relationship? Do you think that Damien is sincere in his belief that what they were doing was wrong? What role did his fear of exposure play in his decision to betray Chauncey? How does Harris make their reconciliation believable?

10. I Say a Little Prayer features women only in secondary roles. Are Celia, Ms. Gladys, and Grayson Upchurch fully developed characters? Do their attitudes, problems, and achievements offer insights into lives of women in the African-American community? To what extent is Grayson Upchurch representative of a growing conservative trend in African-American politics?

11. Harris refers to several real people in the novel and also includes “cameo” appearances by characters from his other books. What does this add to your experience as a reader?  

12. The question of accepting gays and lesbians has caused disruption in many churches. Does Harris treat the subject in a balanced and honest way? Does he offer fresh insights into the gay and lesbian point of view? Does his depiction of religious leaders who reject gays and lesbians in their churches adequately explore their reasons and motivations?

13. Is the black community is more homophobic than society-at-large? What historical, social, and cultural forces might explain this?

14. From the fight for women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, American society has been changed through citizen-led campaigns for equal rights. Is the gay-rights movement comparable to past struggle for equality?

15. The conflict at the heart of I Say A Little Prayer may remind you of a recent real-life scandal. The Reverend Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who frequently spoke out against gay rights and same-sex unions, was “outed” by a man who had a sexual relationship with him. Is exposing the hypocrisy of public figures a moral obligation we all share? Are there situations in which such exposure causes more harm than good?

16. I Say a Little Prayer carries a strong political message. Do you think exploring political themes enhances or undermines the power of Harris’s fiction?

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Customer Reviews

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( 50 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 50 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    Great book

    I was required to read this book for a class and i absolutely loved it! I kept my copy and lend it out to all my friends!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2006

    Good Book


    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013


    This book kept me on my toes, and also taught me a few things about myself. A MUST read!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2012

    I say a little prayer

    Very good reab it make u think bout what u would do r how u would feel

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2012

    Not recommended

    The availability of book should be received. My account was credited & I had to reorder. The book is still showing available by seller. Please remove.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 6, 2011

    Didn't like it but you might...

    I didn't like the ghetto language from the sample...

    The writer knows the subject matter and has a compelling story line...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 10, 2010


    I am a great fan of E. Lynn Harris' books! This is a page turner like all the rest!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2008

    Phenomenal & Funny!

    I thought this book was outstanding! I could never wanted to put it down. At the end of each chapter I could hardly wait to read what the next one had in store! The characters made this book funny as well. This was my first read by Harris and definitely won't be my last. I am looking into reading another one!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2008

    Definatley satisfied!

    I thought, 'I Say a Little Prayer,' was a GREAT book. I just got finished reading it. I have read many of Mr.Harris' books, and have yet to be disappointed!! I didn't want to put the book down!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 10, 2007

    Very good book

    Very good characters- believable. It's not easy being gay and finding a church to attend where you are accepted with open arms. Important issues in a wonderfully written story.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 7, 2007

    A reviewer

    I had never read one of Mr. Harris' books, until this one. I was so disappointed. I bought this book at full price and sold it to Half-Price Books for $1. That is how bad it was. I didn't have any of his other works to use as comparison. I have been told by several E. Lynn Harris fans that this books is one of his weakest, if not the weakest book he has written. I don't know if I will be willing to read him again

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 19, 2007

    Could have been better......

    This one was okay but I didn't like Chauncey always biblically justifying his homosexuality no matter how responsible he was with it. This one was not as dramatic as some of E's previous books. However, I still look forward to the next one.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2007


    I enjoy reading and this is a great book. Anything written by E.Lynn I recommend that everyone should read...Good investment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2007

    This was AWESOME!!!

    This was the first book that I had read by E. Lynn Harris, and I could not put the book down. I took it everywhere with me. I read it in two days. The way he is so desciptive and everything makes his characters really come alive!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2006

    What Else Did I Expect

    E. Lynn Harris grabbed my attention years ago. It was an eye-opener for me. His books have helped me to see life as a gay black man differently. Every since Invisible Life I have been reading his books and will continue to do so. What else can you expect but a good read from him. Looking forward to the next book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2006



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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2006

    Keep doing the damn thang!!!!!!!

    This book was outstanding. I read this book in a matter of hours. It was a real page turner.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 8, 2006

    I wanted more...

    I agree with those other readers on how E. Lynn did not have that same hot spice that captivate his readers. I have read every E. Lynn Harris book (and will continue to), but I wanted more of the drama that would have me thinking about this novel as if I saw it as a TV movie..I wanted that after thought...that..this book was the bomb!! type feeling. The excitement that would normally draw you to his novels was not there, and the ending was just that an ending...no fire.. no nothing just plain. I'm hoping the next novel due out in 08' has that spice, that page turner that grabs you and holds your attention, the type of read that'll have you up at night saying one more page then I'm going to sleep. Capture me..hold me..I want to feel like I'm there with them.. give me that 'OH MY GOD NO HE DIDN'T!! type drama.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 12, 2006

    Another hit!

    Another job well done! I always have to have another book ready to read because I finish all of Harris' books in a day or two. The story flows so well and you feel like you are in the story itself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 14, 2006

    A few things to think about

    I really enjoyed reading this book. I like how he stepped into another area politics and religion. In his other books he was into the gay men in sports. It's interesting to think about how many people may have once been in that lifestyle who are now speaking out against it because it's not society's norm. This book reminds us that some religious leaders, politicians and corporate executives are excepting of other lifestyles. It also makes you think about how many Chaunceys and Vincents you may know.

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