Still Life with June

( 1 )

Overview

The people in gay bars on Christmas Day are so desperate for basic human contact that they'd go home with a Doc Marten shoe if it made a move, and maybe even if it didn't.

So begins the story of Cameron Dodds, a disenfranchised writer who visits gay bars on Christmas and works at a Salvation Army Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in order to steal the stories of the people he meets there. But when Cameron finds a patient hanged in the utilities closet, his infatuation with other...

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Still Life with June: A Novel

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Overview

The people in gay bars on Christmas Day are so desperate for basic human contact that they'd go home with a Doc Marten shoe if it made a move, and maybe even if it didn't.

So begins the story of Cameron Dodds, a disenfranchised writer who visits gay bars on Christmas and works at a Salvation Army Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in order to steal the stories of the people he meets there. But when Cameron finds a patient hanged in the utilities closet, his infatuation with other people's stories becomes an obsession. Assuming the man's identity, Cameron seeks out and forges a relationship with the victim's mentally challenged sister, who lives in a home uptown. As Cameron becomes more involved in the woman's life, he begins to discover truths that will challenge him to the very core of his existence.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Mordant, hilarious, and unsparing, Still Life with June is a scourge and blessing both. Reminiscent of Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer, Knut Hamsun's Hunger, or Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, but in a category of its own; if any school for it exists, it's the school of its own daring and invention."

—-Andrew Lewis Conn, author of P: A Novel

"It is a gift of humanity and storytelling that makes Darren Greer's experimental new novel a triumphant success. Still Life with June is a remarkable book, reminiscent of Catcher in the Rye, Fight Club, and Bright Lights, Big City. It's a striking, compelling narrative with a style so inventive and innovative as to be a new form."

—-Eric Shaw Quinn, author of Say Uncle

"A novel with edge and energy, astounding style and substance to spare."

—-Richard Labonté, editor of Best Gay Erotica

"Still Life with June is a compelling novel, and Darren Greer a writer we'll be hearing from."

—-Ralph Keyes, author of The Post-Truth Era

Kirkus Reviews
Canadian author Greer makes his U.S. debut with a personable, tongue-in-cheek tale about a recovering addict and fledgling writer who reclaims his troubled past. At 30, living alone on Lime Street in an unidentified city that really doesn't sound like New York (despite numbered streets and a fancy modern art museum), Cameron Dobbs likes stories-especially those by losers like him, as he often notes. He goes to bars on Christmas to hear sad tales and to pick up desperate men. Aspiring author Cameron empathizes with the downtrodden, and his job at the Salvation Army ("Sally Ann") puts him in touch with plenty of folks in the "loser animal kingdom." On Thursdays he frequents a writing group at a chain store he calls BIG BAD BOOKS ("to avoid getting sued"). He refuses to read his own stories but grudgingly listens to other writers' sorry tales: "These guys just love self-depreciation and mea culpa," he notes. Cameron becomes involved in two real-life stories. First, the alpha female writer in his group hires him to spy on the man living above him, whom she believes is her estranged brother. Then Cameron finds out that one of Sally Ann's former inmates, a cokehead suicide named Darrel Greene, has a sister with Down's syndrome permanently committed to an institution in the city. Cameron, who liked Darrel "because he reminded me of me," begins to visit June at the home, passing himself off as her long-lost brother. Eventually, the two nutty companions try to spring June from the facility (allusions to One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest strictly intentional). Greer couches his tale as a Roman-enumerated journal, replete with details so earnestly human that it's hard not to like Cameron, despite hisentrenched use of the term "retard" and long-winded transcriptions of his tedious stories. A poignant idea, but the tricky execution doesn't quite pull together all the emotional pieces.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312335113
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 7/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Darren Greer grew up in several towns in Nova Scotia. He studied literature at the University of King's College, Halifax, and Carleton University. Still Life with June is his American debut.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 13, 2005

    Exquisite and haunting

    Still Life with June is a rare and haunting novel that deserves to be read at least twice. Stylistically, Still Life is brilliant, juxtaposing textual fragments written in distinctly different voices. Greer achieves ambiguity through calculated precision as his plot and characterization shift between realities. The text is often confessional, with the protagonist sharing everything from seemingly-insignificant details to the most intimate revelations. The result is a protagonist so realistic that I sometimes forgot he was fictional, feeling implicated by my own voyeuristic presence. Grafting beauty onto pain, Greer creates a world as enticing as it is disturbing. Intelligent, hilarious and profound, Still Life is a novel to savor.

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