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Conquering Venus

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  44 ratings  ·  17 reviews
In the summer of 1995, young American writer Martin Paige agrees to chaperone a group of high school seniors on their graduation trip to Paris as a favor to his best friend, teacher Diane Jacobs. Diane hopes Europe will act as a catalyst to lift Martin from his grief following the suicide of his lover, Peter. But the trip proves to be more than either of them bargained for ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published August 4th 2009 by Vanilla Heart Publishing (first published August 2nd 2009)
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Set mostly in Paris in 1995. Martin is a man of 22 who's been coerced by Diane his best gal-pal to serve as a co chaperone for a small group of high-school graduates from Tennessee on their trip to London and Paris. While he's somewhat into the idea of a trip abroad the real draw for Martin is one of the graduates, 18 year-old David. A natural athlete and leader who drinks too much and seems to be forever taunting Martin in a flirtatious way.

This is not a straightforward story and as the plot u
there's no doubt that collin kelley can write - i have been a fan of his poetry for quite a while. i don't think i would have come across the novel if collin weren't an internet acquaintance of mine (i doubt they are stocking it in [m]any austrian book shops). had i seen it in a book shop, i am almost certain that i would not have bought it - and that is NOT due to the synopsis on the back, but the fact that there are two mistakes (one grammatical, one omission), and i can easily be turned off b ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

As I've said here many times before, I believe that for a novel to be a truly great one, it must successfully combine three essential elements -- it must have an exciting and logical plot, populated by realistic and compelling characters, written in a competent and unique style. But of course the iro
Recommended by Ben Tanzer
From author.
Have you ever read a couple of books, one after the other, only to find that they are unintentionally linked to one another through subject matter and theme? Perhaps a character from your previous read has a similar affliction to the one you are reading about now. Or the characters visit the same locations. Maybe they have similar backgrounds and histories?

I love "book serendipity", and how utterly random and jarring it can be. And that is exactly what occurr
I am going to file Conquering Venus under books I might not have read, but did because I met the author, was quite taken with him, found myself intrigued, started reading and then quickly lost myself in this near otherworldly tale of romance, revolution, suicide and Paris.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Helen Losse
The theme is clear enough in Collin Kelley’s After the Poison: We do not care about people who are peripheral to mainstream society—the poor, the blacks, the gays, the Muslims, the dwellers in the Third World. We do not care about them here or abroad. And to illustrate this, Kelley creates vivid images.

. . . this place
barely exists offers no kickbacks
to presidents, their kin or commanders. . . .
No liberation force is coming [to Darfur:]. . . .
Here is famine, genocide,
dark skin pouring black oil
It's a novel by a poet, and all that that entails. That includes poetry written by characters within the novel, but mainly I mean that it goes for atmosphere and emotion more than plot and verisimilitude.

It's also a novel in which a gay man romantically pursues a high schooler, though great pains are made to point out that he's 18, so totally legal! Also the man is a chaperone on the student's class trip to Paris, so even more wonky power dynamics. Just pointing this out as potentially problema
Phil Williams
A wonderfully written love letter (of sorts) to Paris. Conquering Venus was a sweet, sad and sexy tale with just enough melodrama to keep it interesting but not enough to send it to Desperate Housewives territory. The coincidences with Martin's female friends seemed a bit contrived but then that is why this is a novel, not a non-fiction piece. Although what happened could easily occur in the real world, if it was handled a little less skillfully it would seem like Jerry Springer or a Jackie Coll ...more
I read this book in manuscript form and loved it so much I blurbbed the book. Here's what I said:

"Unflinching and mysterious, Conquering Venus is that rare combination of poetic and page-turner. Collin Kelley – who refreshingly faces taboos head-on – has packed his cinematic debut novel with compelling characters, meaty plot twists and satisfying surprises. This novel is freshly contemporary as well as, in its own fashion, a love letter to Paris."
Damian Serbu
I fell in love with this book. It contains such raw, believable emotion. The story moves along almost too quickly, because I absolutely did not want this novel to end. The characters are so real, with a grand depth of emotion. The magical realism adds a sense of mystery to the journey. A superb addition to LGBT literature specifically, and literature in general.
Such a page-turner! I loved this novel. Martin's struggles remind me vaguely of a 22 year old Holden Caulfield. And the indelible character Irene! One of those must-read books you come across every now and then. Pick up your copy today!
Will Kenyon
Collin Kelley transforms his remarkable poetry to a first try at long fiction. I think the label gay literary fiction has actually hurt his sales....
Kristina Franken
I highly recommend this book for anyone

FTC: I received a free copy of this book and was not reimbursed in any other way.
Michael Hely
An interesting story made annoying by lots and lots of first novel amateurishness.
Won this in a giveaway. A decent read and a pleasant surprise.
Great prose and excellent storytelling set in Paris. Come on!
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Collin Kelley is the author of the American Library Association-honored poetry collection Render and the mystery/suspense novels Remain In Light, a 2012 finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and 2013 Georgia Author of the Year Award, and Conquering Venus, both of which are now available in brand new editions from Sibling Rivalry Press. He is also the author of the Amazon exclusive eBook of s ...more
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