about the author
Aldo Alvarez was born in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University and Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. He is Executive Editor and Publisher of Blithe House Quarterly (http://www.blithe.com/), which was nominated for the GLAAD Media Award and named by Out magazine as "the central publishing arm of new queer fiction."
INTERESTING MONSTERS (Graywolf Press)
-- featured as one of the best short story collections of the Fall 2001 book season by The Washington Post Book World
-- listed in OUT Magazine's December 2001 "OUT 100" issue, under "Books", as "one of the 100 greatest LGBT success stories of 2001".
-- a selection of the InsightOut Book Club
What does your soul sound like?
Mark, a has-been pop star at 40, converts his mother's attic into a recording studio to find out.
Dean, who has AIDS, moves back to his native Puerto Rico with his partner to enjoy his last few months of life, only to find himself battling a scheming, homophobic real estate agent who is ultimately trapped by her own wicked plans.
With a thoughtful intelligence and a playful sense of the surreal, Alvarez shows us that the real monsters in these interrelated stories are the prejudices that keep us silent and invisible. Here, the living visit the dead, lovers and friends endure catastrophic first dates and heartbreaking good-byes, and the lucky ones, sometimes, find true love.
Scroll down or click here for excerpts from INTERESTING MONSTERS
Check out the book tour schedule. Readings/signings in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, Chicago, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Orlando, and New York City.
NEW INTERESTING MONSTERS reviews -- scroll down or click here
advance praise for
"Aldo Alvarez's zany, original, offbeat, and always inspired collection of short stories gives the lie to the idea that all gay short stories have to be clones. At the same time, it brings to earth the myth that all experimental fiction has to have its head in the clouds. INTERESTING MONSTERS is moving, often quite funny, and always strangely human."
-- Felice Picano, author of ONYX and LIKE PEOPLE IN HISTORY
"These warm-hearted, witty and psychologically smart stories are the best fiction I've read in a long time. Aldo Alvarez is a tirelessly inventive, irrepressible story-teller."
-- Carol Bly, author of MY LORD BAG OF RICE and BEYOND THE WRITING WORKSHOP
"I like books for the quaint and unpopular justification of 'what they say' as artworks -- and this book is so sad and beautiful and hopeful and tragic and redemptive. It's truly moving...a gorgeous book."
-- C. Bard Cole, author of BRIEFLY TOLD LIVES
"For all their thematic and compositional risks, the stories in INTERESTING MONSTERS touch upon the most venerable themes: love, loss, and the drive for meaning. Aldo Alvarez has fashioned a book that reads like a surprising, and sometimes unsettling, collection of interwoven fables, each configured in unique and compelling prose."
-- Bernard Cooper, author of TRUTH SERUM and GUESS AGAIN
"Aldo Alvarez's first collection, INTERESTING MONSTERS, is more than interesting. Alvarez has a poet's eye and a confessor's soul. Honesty resides where it isn't welcomed, as each of the stories reaches into the contradiction of what it is we call life. Interesting, yes; incredible, of course; awesome, absolutely."
-- Helena Maria Viramontes, author of UNDER THE FEET OF JESUS and THE MOTHS AND OTHER STORIES
"As diverse and surprising as the paths of love and friendship it chronicles, INTERESTING MONSTERS delights with its scope and shimmering warmth of spirit."
-- D. Travers Scott, author of EXECUTION, TEXAS: 1987
INTERESTING MONSTERS reviewed:
"Puerto Rican author Aldo Alvarez's new story collection, INTERESTING MONSTERS (Graywolf), chronicles the relationship of two people, Mark and Dean, and their quest for meaning and soul. The characters themselves aren't the titular monsters; they are searchers wrestling the "monsters" of prejudice and isolation. The author's style is frank and clear, encouraging the reader to be swept up more by the characters' choices and actions than the actual words chosen to paint them. This is experimental fiction meant for wide audiences -- very accessible and entertaining. It is also queer fiction that has grown up past adolescence; it's affectionate and funny, but reasonable."
-- City Pages (news and arts weekly of the Twin Cities in MN)
"Reading these loosely connected short narratives is like reading the metaphysical poets in fictional form. Alvarez renders complex emotions in the oddest concrete objects and incidents, finding unambiguous desire, for instance, in the smell of scrambled eggs and gun oil. Set mostly in gay experience, these fresh, artfully crafted tales touch on recognizable themes -- allure, anxiety, redemption, prejudice, and loss -- that shiver to life under the author's masterly touch. Alvarez gives body to the flutters of human essence in spare prose, strung mainly around the characters of Mark and Dean. His "monsters" often succumb to angels in disguise, as when musician Mark's audiotape of his soul rouses his mother's beleaguered spirit, cutting into her reluctance to listen to what he needs to tell her about his life. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries, and gay literature collections."
-- Library Journal, August 2001
"A sly, brainy, delicately shaded novel masquerading as a postmodern short story collection, Aldo Alvarez's debut is like an offbeat dinner guest who ends up as the life of the party. Most of these 16 stories offer a fragment in an ongoing (though out-of-sequence) tale of the love relationship of Mark, a brooding, slightly homophobic music producer, and Dean, an antiques appraiser, who tests the tolerance of his new love interests by making a queeny display of himself on first dates. One of the most poignant of these stories, "Quintessence," takes place before Dean meets Mark, and is about his failed attempt to find love with a simple, well-meaning, ordinary Joe, who has shown Dean his horrible "art" of doll toilet-paper covers, "breathtakingly ugly in design and execution." Refusing to take the easy way out of this heartbreaking scenario, Alvarez's sympathies remain evenly divided. Even when Dean hates himself, his author doesn't. With malice toward none, and humor for all, Alvarez builds a network of complicated but very real connections, in a voice that is spare and surprising."
--Regina Marler for Amazon.com
four selections from
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