Friday, January 21, 2011

Sarah Waters - Tipping the Velvet


From Publishers Weekly

With a title that's a euphemism for cunnilingus and a plot awash with graphic lesbian sex, this lush tale fearlessly and feverishly exposes the political, social and sexual subversions of Victorian-era gender-benders: sapphists, libertines and passing women. Set in 1890s London against a backdrop of music halls and socialist demonstrations, Waters's debut (published to acclaim in England) is an engrossing story of a "tommish" woman battered and buoyed by the mores of the times. At 18, Nancy Astley is a fishmonger in coastal Whitstable, working with her sister and parents in the family oyster parlour. Smitten by male impersonator Kitty Butler, Nancy attends every show at the Canterbury Palace until the star notices her. A stunned Nancy finds herself Kitty's companion and dresser, and sexual tension keeps the pages turning as she becomes first Kitty's sweetheart, then her partner ("two lovely girls in trousers, instead of one!") in a wildly successful stage act. Kitty's shame over her sexual preference sends her into marriage to their manager, Walter Bliss, propelling devastated Nancy into a series of erotic excursions and a struggle for survival, first passing as a young man and hustling, then as wealthy widow Diana Lethaby's kept "tart," finally as the housekeeper for union organizer Florence Banner. Waters is a masterful storyteller, tantalizing the reader as Nancy endures melancholy squalor, betrayals, the lustful motives of swindling gay-girls and imperious ladies. The circumstances by which Nancy finally finds true love are unpredictable and moving. Amid the gentlemen trolling Piccadilly Circus for trysts with "renter" boys and the wealthy female guests of the Cavendish Clubs "Sapphists Only" parties, Nancy's search for love and identity is a raucous, passionate adventure, and a rare, thrilling read. Agent, Judith Murray.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

Bret Easton Ellis - Glamorama

 

From Publishers Weekly

The evil twin of fellow brat-packer Jay McInerney's Model Behavior, Ellis's (The Informers) bad trip through glitterary New York has everything his fans (and critics) have come to expect: graphic sex, designer drugs, rock 'n' roll allusions, splatterpunk violence and characters as deep as 8"x10" glossies. Protagonist Victor Ward, a "model-slash-loser," is opening his own trendy Manhattan club while cheating on his supermodel girlfriend and back-stabbing his partner. After some adventures in clubland, the plot takes a turn for the paranoid. Victor is recruited by a mysterious figure, F. Fred Palakon, to track down a former girlfriend gone missing in London. There he becomes unwillingly drawn into a terrorist group?run, like so much else in the novel, by a supermodel?that bombs fashionable hangouts, hotels and jetliners. Throughout, Ellis clutters his hallmark proper-noun realism with excessive name-dropping and strung-out plotting. The satirist in Ellis seems to want to indict celebrity-obsessed, materialistic and superficial contemporary culture. With this novel he, perhaps unwittingly but certainly ironically, provides Exhibit A. 100,000 first printing.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Monday, January 10, 2011

Arthur Golden - Memoirs of a Geisha

 From Library Journal

"I wasn't born and raised to be a Kyoto geisha....I'm a fisherman's daughter from a little town called Yoroido on the Sea of Japan." How nine-year-old Chiyo, sold with her sister into slavery by their father after their mother's death, becomes Sayuri, the beautiful geisha accomplished in the art of entertaining men, is the focus of this fascinating first novel. Narrating her life story from her elegant suite in the Waldorf Astoria, Sayuri tells of her traumatic arrival at the Nitta okiya (a geisha house), where she endures harsh treatment from Granny and Mother, the greedy owners, and from Hatsumomo, the sadistically cruel head geisha. But Sayuri's chance meeting with the Chairman, who shows her kindness, makes her determined to become a geisha. Under the tutelage of the renowned Mameha, she becomes a leading geisha of the 1930s and 1940s. After the book's compelling first half, the second half is a bit flat and overlong. Still, Golden, with degrees in Japanese art and history, has brilliantly revealed the culture and traditions of an exotic world, closed to most Westerners. Highly recommended. 
Wilda Williams, "Library Journal" Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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