Father of Frankenstein
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Father of Frankenstein

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  554 ratings  ·  48 reviews
James Whale, the elegant director of such classic horror films as"Frankenstein" and "The Bride of Frankenstein, " was found at his Los Angeles mansion in 1957, dead of unnatural causes. Christopher Bram, whose social insight and wit have earned him comparisons to Henry James and Gore Vidal, explores the mystery of Whale's last days in this evocative and suspenseful work of...more
Paperback, 276 pages
Published April 1st 1996 by Plume (first published 1995)
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This is an excellent book. It is written beautifully with splashes of cinematic touches that, of course are mini-pastiches of Whale's own work. It is artfully done and although it probably bears little resemblance to the actual last month of Whale's life, sometimes literature speaks greater truth than journalism. Bram's prose is elegant, artful, and truthfully I was looking for clunkiness given some of the melodramatic subject matter, but didn't find it. Overall, I thought it was touching and a...more
Francis Williams
A moving and perceptive novel that takes as its protagonist a real person, Hollywood director James Whale, who died in the 1950s forgotten by Hollywood but not by legions of horror movie fans. The novel is multilayered and complex and deals with the theme of the artist who can no longer practice his art: abandoned by the film establishment, Whale can no longer make movies, and a stroke has destroyed his ability to sketch and paint. Bram skillfully interweaves themes of Whale's life with those of...more
Close look at psychological breakdown. Very interesting to take a look at 1950s Hollywood!
Feb 18, 2010 Rod rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Rod by: rschepper@gmail.com
Father of Frankenstein by Christopher Bram 1995 read in Feb 2010
A novel using James Whale the real director of Frankenstein, and Bride of Frankenstein as the main character. This fictional account of the directors last days was the basis for the movie, “Gods and Monsters”. I read this after reading Mr Bram’s non-fiction book of essays, Mapping the Territory. I was so taken by his clear and precise writing, I knew I would enjoy anything he wrote. And I was correct. He is also a great story teller...more
Joel Fishbane
Like author Peter Straub, I read most of this book in one sitting, a true compliment considering how restless one can get on a hot summer day. Reading this book so soon after Doctorow's Homer and Langley, I couldn't help but draw parallels, not because of the subject matter, but because both books create fictional versions of history that are true to the spirit of people involved if not the actual facts. Here, Mr. Baum's focus is the final days of James Whale, best remembered as the director of...more
Overtly gay? Yes. Entertaining? Sure. But what got me reading and reading this book was my sudden fascination with James Whale and the Frankenstein movies. Okay, most of this never really happened. But it's easy to believe it could have. Christopher Bram, I applaud you.
This book, the basis for the film "Gods and Monsters," was a delightful read. I found it engaging with good character development that was complex but not overly so. I saw the movie before I read the book and was impressed at how true the former was to the latter.
Michelle Taylor
One of my favorite people. He was one of only a few people that I knew when I first lived in NYC and he gave me such a unique view of his city.
Eric Diesel
One of the books that made me want to write again.
A favorite writer at his best.
his best work so far
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The second half of this book was much better than the first half. FATHER OF FRANKENSTEIN imagines what the end of movie director James Whales' life was like. James Whale directed THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN. It was certainly written with a reverence and nostalgia for classic Hollywood as BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN is considered his crowning achievement and Mr. Whale's life is still within a glamorous Hollywood elite including a scene with an Elizabeth Taylor cameo.

The first half of the book sets up the...more
As a fan of old horror films, I very much enjoyed this glimpse into James Whale's life and, ultimately, his death. It was exciting to look in on the moment when Elsa Lanchester was transformed into the Bride of Frankenstein, and to hear Greta Garbo tell Whale that she wished she could've been his monster's bride. Since this book is a fictionalization, I don't know how or if these things actually happened, but I like thinking of them the way they are written here.

I thought the author was very su...more
This book makes one ravenous for more biographical information of Colin Clive, Boris Karloff, Elsa Lanchester, and so many others who are mention and peppered throughout the pages of the book. Although it's a novel about director James Whales'last weeks prior to his suicide, it resonates with a sadness for a man diminished by his body's illness and aware of life's, fast approaching end. One can only wonder what James Whale's life was like at this time. Fearful of another stroke, his memories see...more
Steven Schreier
Even though the protagonist is not terribly sympathetic he is so well defined and alluring one can not help feeling pity, much like the creature he created on the big screen.
A moving and humane book about a great cinematic hero, James Whale, director of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Old Dark House and Showboat. This book, which formed the basis for the movie Gods and Monsters, gives us a wonderful, somewhat vain and irascible character wrestling with his own declining powers. Though having a clear gay perspective, it treats all it's personalities, whatever their sexuality, weaknesses or proclivities, with the dignity that allows them to be difficult and t...more
Michael Stewart
This wonderful novel has one toe in "Hollywood" fiction and one in the annals of "queer" literature: the author is gay as was the real life director James Whale. This novel is the basis for the wonderful film GODS AND MONSTERS that weaves a relationship between the real Whale and the fictitious landscaper Clay Boone. A career that was largely forgotten and the strata of memories of the ailing director near life's end are two of the main threads, with the third thread being the backstory and the...more
Jeffrey L. Schill, Jr.
Beautifully written

I loved this book. I felt like I really got to know the characters through their thoughts written on the page. A tragic and heartfelt novel.
Patrick Ryan
One of my favorite novels of all-time.
I had seen this movie several years ago and loved it, so when I stumbled across the book, I immediately picked it up. I was not disappointed. It is just a beautiful book that had me in tears at the end, even though I already knew the ending. The relationship that springs up between Whale and Boone is both surprising and ultimately inevitable. The glimpses of early Hollywood are glamorous, and reading this book has made me want to watch not only this movie again, but Frankenstein and Bride of Fra...more
Jun 04, 2014 Elise rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
A well written book full of lots of detailed imagery. There was something haunting, beautiful, and frustrating about the prose, which I think made this book very readable. I have to admit to having seen Gods and Monsters many years previous, and even though I barely remember it, in my brain James Whale looked like Ian McKellen and Clayton Boone looked like Brendon Fraser. That being said, I am now inspired to watch James Whale's monster movies and to read more Christopher Bram.
Beautifully written and well researched, this novel combines the right amount of sex and sentiment for a kind of love story that is not told enough. I found myself questioning why male friendships--particularly friendships between gay and straight men--are an uncommon subject in literature. That alone made Gods and Monsters a fascinating read; the wonderful characters and writing style only added to that peculiar foundation.
I've read some of Bram's Works and quite enjoyed them so I was eager to start this book. It's taken me months to get through it and I'm halfway through and I'm still waiting for something to happen. While written well, it lacks action. It's mostly a charachter study. I hate not finishing this book, but I'm ready to move on. I'll still try other books by bram though. Maybe I'll finish it one of these days.
A surprisingly powerful and riveting story, considering the cast and setting, which some may consider dull. Despite very little connection with my own experiences, I found this a very personal read.
Henrik Schunk
The book mixes many interesting aspects into one big literature feast. The story of an aging homosexual suffering from both shellshock and fading fame as movie director. And the story of a young man who becomes entangled into the old man's life and vision. Last but not least it is the story of a monster.

A very tender and thoughtful book, a great read
I've been on kind of a Christopher Bram tear lately and this was definitely the best of the lot. He has a tendency to be a little overly obvious at times but "Father of Frankenstein" does a much better job of inhabiting the main character's inner life while still lending an epic sweep without being too ham-fisted about it. Definitely recommended.
I definitely prefer the movie Gods and Monsters to this book - the movie seemed to capture a pathos that the book did not (and yes, I saw the movie first). Usually, reading a book after seeing a movie based on that book will give you more depth and insight, but I found it difficult to stay focused on reading this.
Laurel Doud
I loved this book. After I finished it, the feelings I had lingered throughout the day. I found it incredibly touching and sad and, though I already knew the outcome, I wanted good things for the characters. I loved the friendship these two men created for a very short time--against all expectations.
Loved the GODS AND MONSTERS movie and since a copy of this came across my desk in 1st edition hardcover, I couldn't pass it up at used book prices. We'll see how it holds up to the movie (and vice-versa). The author's repertoire looks interesting and based on this book, I may follow up with more.

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Bram grew up in Kempsville, Virginia. After graduating from the College of William and Mary in 1974 (B.A. in English), he moved to New York City four years later. There, he met his lifelong partner, documentary filmmaker Draper Shreeve.

Bram's novel Father of Frankenstein, about film director James Whale, was made into the movie Gods and Monsters starring Ian McKellen and Brendan Fraser. Bill Condo...more
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