The Less-Dead by April Lurie

(We have not discussed this in the group but it was a ‘spin off’ from one of our meetings and this review is in a personal capacity.)THD

The less-dead are people whose deaths don’t seem to matter since they have no loved-ones to miss them. This is a detective story in which your friend might be your evenly and your enemy might be your friend. Who can you trust? What’s not to like?

The narrator is a straight teenager who, like most teenagers, is embarrassed by his father: with good reason since he is an evangelical preacher.

Someone who was formerly a member of the infamous ‘God hates fags’ Westboro’ Baptist church is suspected of being a serial murderer of gays. This unsettles the narrator’s father since he had tried to counsel this man. The narrator has invited a homeless gay teenager to his home and his father tries to help.

The hypocrisy of the ‘no sex before marriage’ rule is exposed – a convert says it is OK if he fornicates and then repents, and maybe repeats the process.

The failure of Exodus groups to change men’s sexual orientation and the misery such attempts cause is well portrayed.

In the back of her book, the author explains how the Bible’s ‘6 clobber texts’ against homosexuality are taken out of context and don’t mean what they appear, in the surface, to mean. However, scholarship as moved on and the evangelical understanding of these texts is much more nuanced but I did enjoy that prohibition against touching dead pig’s meat as meaning that football because it is an abomination! I also learned that Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority strove against Martin Luther King, claiming that racial integration was ‘the work of the devil that would destroy our race eventually.’

This female author has a lot of insight into the minds of teenage boys, both gay and straight. Her story should appeal to teenagers, though some American culture and background doesn’t appeal so much across the pond. evangelicals often speak of people ‘struggling with homosexuality’. At the back of this book there is a list of useful (American) websites for people ‘struggling with fundamentalism (and homophobia).’

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