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  • gilwilson 8:48 PM on January 18, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , gay rights, , life lessons, , , , one gay american, shorn,   

    “One Gay American” by Dennis Milam Bensie 


    “One Gay American”
    by Dennis Milam Bensie
    Published by Coffeetown Press
    242 Pages

    In Dennis Milam Bensie’s first book “Shorn…” the reader was introduced to the author by way of his finding his way through life struggling with being a gay man in a cruel society and on top of that having to struggle with his obsession with hair. This was a very brave move for Dennis to expose himself to the world. Dennis has taken that newfound bravery and further explains his life and struggle to find who he is and where he belongs in the world in his second book, “One Gay American.”

    From his first memory of his mother’s wedding dress, Dennis desires to one day have that perfect wedding and maybe that perfect wedding dress. What starts out as a desire for a beautiful dress develops into the author wanting to have a meaningful relationship with a lifelong partner and actually being wanted and having a sense of belonging. He starts out with a photo of his mother at her wedding in which to his amazement and horror is not decked out in a traditional white flowing wedding dress. For the rest of his childhood Dennis is trying to make up for that by making bridal dolls for family members and even one for the woman he marries.

    Dennis does marry a woman, all the while struggling with the realization that he is a gay man and that this marriage is a sham. Being the loving person he tries to stay married so as not to crush his bride, her family or worse yet his family. He wants to impress his father, who doesn’t know how to show his feelings for his effiminate son. Eventually Dennis cannot handle living that lie and gets divorced. The rest of his life from his college years to working in the theatre, Dennis struggles with trying to find the right person to share his life with. This is the basic struggle of all human beings, finding love, loving and being loved. The big difference is to find love with the right person when your passion is for someone of the same sex and all the while society looking down on your lifestyle.

    Dennis tells his life story while at the same time comparing with what is going on in gay rights history. Each Chapter begins with an event in gay rights history and the authors response to that event and compares that to what is going on during that moment in his life. One day in the future when same-sex marriage is accepted and gay rights are an accepted norm, this book will serve as the perfect textbook in this history of America’s civil rights movement. From the gay bashing of Anita Bryant to California’s Prop 8 turmoil, Dennis’ life parallels the struggles of any Gay American, this book just makes it more personal.

  • gilwilson 9:11 PM on October 25, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , hurricanes, life lessons, Michal Friedman, , , north carolina, , , Sheila Turnage, southern hospitality, Three Times Lucky,   

    “Three Times Lucky” by Sheila Turnage 

    “Three Times Lucky”
    by Sheila Turnage
    read by Michal Friedman
    Published by Penguin Audio
    7 hours 57 minute

    Every once in a while I get a book that I have no idea what I’m getting into but I feel I must read or listen to it. On rare occasions I strike out and end up not listening to the rest of the book or reading it. This time, however, I hit a home run, actually a full clear-the-bases-grand-slam home run. I had originally planned on listening to this audiobook while on my vacation, which was pretty much one week of full driving, but the family had other plans, so my audio book time was limited. I should have vetoed them on this one because I know my 12 year-old son and my wife would have loved this, I know I did.

    This book was filled with humor, sadness, adventure, mystery and even some great lump in the throat while laughing at the same time moments. The main character of Mo’ was a great outlet for some superb metaphors that kept this story a constant adventure in the English language. The reader, Michal Friedman, performed this book more than read it. Her voice as 11 year-olds Mo’ and Dale was spot on. The various other characters were represented to their full extent as well from the excellent performance of Michal Friedman’s voice. The combination of the wonderfully written story and the enthralling vocal performance will keep you glued to this audiobook until the surprising end.

    This story would be appreciated by anyone who has loved the experience of stories like “Because of Winn-Dixie,” “Second Hand Lions,” or even “Holes.” The life through the eyes of an 11 year-old, who never knew her real family, but runs the risk of losing the ones she calls family is full of happy, sad and anxiety-ridden moments is full of ups and downs and Sheila Turnage has created one of the best stories telling this one right. With characters you’ll want to visit over and over again, “Three Times Lucky” should be on the reading list of anyone from 12 to 120. While the story is fitting for a young adult reader in middle school, the story is written so that even as an adult reading it everyone will come out having read a great story and seem like it is a young adult novel.

    Mo’ LoBeau came to the town of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina on the waves of a hurricane 11 years ago. Actually the town of Tupelo Landing received 3 new citizens on that fateful day. The Colonel, who was found holding Mo’ in his arms after having a car crash in the hurricane and floating in the creek saw a baby secured to a floating billboard, Mo’ whose “upstream mother,” in order to save her baby, secured her to the floating debris, and Miss Lana. Miss Lana and The Colonel have since opened the only cafe in the town of Tupelo Landing and with the help of Mo’, who the Colonel calls, soldier, run a nice service that seems to be the center of the town. Everyone stops in and when an out-of-town Detective stops in to investigate a murder that occurred in Winston-Salem, the whole town is there to know about it.

    Before the Detective, Joe Starr, leaves town one of Tupelo Landing’s own is found murdered and the mayor asks Starr to investigate. In a series of twists and turns and sometimes humorous events, the town is put on edge and appears to be the target of a bank robber out for revenge after not getting his loot from a heist he and others did 11 years in the past.

    All this time Mo’ and her friend Dale are investigating the murder while Mo’ is trying to track down her “upstream mother,” thus forming the Desperado Detective agency. Mo’ and Joe Starr are out to find a murderer that may be after more of the towns folk and may even be one of their own.

    To put it simply, great fun and mystery in a book that everyone should read and read now, or as in my case listen in audiobook form. In fact, I would recommend highly to grab the audiobook and get started because of the superb performance.


  • gilwilson 5:32 PM on June 25, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , justin halpern, life lessons, , sam halpern, shit my dad says, twitter   

    “Sh*t My Dad Says” by Justin Halpern 

    “Sh*t My Dad Says”
    by Justin Halpern
    read by Sean Schemmel
    Published by Harper Audio (2010)
    Approx 3 hours

    I’ve been listening to some pretty heavy duty literature lately and decided I needed some light-hearted entertainment.  Also I am taking part in the local library’s Adult Summer Reading program and for every ten books read I get an entry into the drawing for some cool prizes, so I needed to find some shorter books.  I have been a follower of Justin Halpern’s twitter feed for “Sh*t My Dad Says” before the book and the TV series and and have found the musings to be hilarious at times.   This book surprised me in that it not only has those funny quotes but also includes some short stories/essays on various events in Justin’s upbringing.  Some of them surprisingly poignant.  Justin’s Dad, Sam Halpern, who provides the colorful views of the world comes across a bit harsh at first but after listening to this book I was left with the overview of a worldly wise man that sincerely loves his family.

    Sam Halpern, is a retired doctor (Nuclear Medicine) and former Navy man and can cuss better than anyone I know. In the book Justin says his favorite is “Bullsh*t,” and can use the word to mean a variety of different things and all those things vary by his intonation.  On top of that the reader, Sean Schemmel is able to portray Sam exactly the way I heard him when I read the tweets, and is able to discern the different intonations of “Bullsh*t.”  Sean does a superb job of voicing this fun book.

    I will say that if foul language highly offends you, you may want to stay away…but they are only words in fact Sam Halpern says this, “”They’re offended? F–k, s–t, a—-le, s–tf–k; they’re just words…Fine. S–tf–k isn’t a word, but you get my point.”  I found the book extremely funny and for 3 days my commute to and from work was the best ever.   I could list several quotes in this review but instead I’ll just provide the link to the twitter feed so you can get a good idea of some of the quotes, but keep in mind many of the good parts of this audio book are the stories told.   Many of the stories are in reference to a father providing help in the different phases of any kid growing up, at times I recognized myself in the stories and while Justin Halpern had a more colorfully described life, I could definitely relate.

    When all is said and done this book is basically about a man that loves his family and will do anything for them, the rest of the world can go to hell.

    Here’s the link for the twitter feed:  http://twitter.com/Shitmydadsays

  • gilwilson 2:30 AM on April 23, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: best bet, , , life lessons, , marriage, world travel   

    “Best Bet” – a novel by Laura Pedersen 

    “Best Bet” – a novel
    by Laura Pedersen
    Published 2009
    by iUniverse Books

    I wasn’t really sure what I was in for when I received this book.  From the looks of the cover, I was thinking it was some sort of chick book leaning heavy on the romance.  But we all know that you don’t judge a book by the cover.  I’m glad I didn’t, judge, that is.  I read Laura Pedersen’s memoir book “Buffalo Gal,” so I knew that she was fun to read.  Ms. Pederson has a great sense of humor that is carried into this novel perfectly.  In fact that’s what kept me going throughout the book, every time something heavy would happen one of the Characters (I’ll explain the capital “C” in a bit.) would blurt out something and I would be thankful I wasn’t drinking milk else it come out my nose.  The humor was very funny and at times unexpected.

    The reason I capitalized characters is because these characters were Characters. Maybe that still doesn’t explain.  As I run throught the summary I think you’ll get my drift.

    The main character is Hallie, she is about to graduate from a midwestern college and move in with her boyfriend Craig.  Hallie is getting her degree in graphic design and Craig quit school to start his now successful pond building business.  Their plans are foiled when Hallie finds out that the absent-minded advisor advised her wrong and she is 4 credits shy of graduating.  The school knows it is there problem and offer she take the 4 credit sociology class no charge.  Hallie was planning on moving and another option is that she could take the class at a community college and transfer the credits, but she would have to pay for the course, or she could just not get her degree.  As she is leaving her advisor’s office she runs into an ex-“boyfriend” and is presented with a 4th option.

    This 4th option, to me sounds like a dream opportunity and I would not hesitate, but then I’m not Hallie, she has a job waiting for and a boyfriend that is ready for her to move in with him.  The 4th option is an independent study type of sociology class.  The professor has created a study in which she will travel around the world dropping wallets with $20 in cash in them and record the rates of return of the wallets and compare to the sociological standings of the various countries.  This would require Hallie to answer within a couple of days whether she could drop everything and travel the world.

    Here’s where the characters come in.  Hallie comes from a large family and during her college years has taken up residence with some friends.  These friends are of the parental generation for Hallie but not quite.  First are 2 gay men, Gil and Bernard (right here I have to say any book with my name in it is worth reading )  Gil runs a local performing arts theater, and Bernard is always cooking some exotic recipe.  The two live together and have adopted two Japanese girls.  Bernard has taken on the training of the girls’ girl scout troop.  This troop being the first to know how to mix cocktails and what are the appropriate cocktails and snacks to prepare for any given social occasion.  Bernard’s mother, Olivia live with them and is constantly protesting or planning a protest for many political agendas.

    Bernard overly frets about the safety of Hallie leaving her hometown and only offers up statistics of deaths in other countries.  Olivia, says traveling the world is the best way for a young person to know their world and their place in it.  Hallie’s boyfriend, Craig, does not want her to go and gives her the ultimatum.  Marry and stay or go and never see him again.  All this time Hallie and her siblings are shocked at finding out that their fairly recently widowed mother is marrying the church pastor.

    To keep things short Hallie goes on the trip and throughout the many experiences around the world with the honesty sociology experiment learns to be honest with herself.  The return home Hallie is a changed person, yet still the same ole Hallie.  In other words there is so much going on in this book that with all the fun you have reading the various events good, bad and downright funny, you learn Hallie was not honest with herself and where she wants to be in the world.

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