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The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  1,823 ratings  ·  244 reviews
Set against the harsh reality of an unforgiving landscape and culture, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon provides a vision of the Old West unlike anything seen before. The narrator, Shed, is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary fiction: a half-Indian bisexual boy who lives and works at the Indian Head Hotel in the tiny town of Excellent, Idaho. It's th ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 6th 2000 by Grove Press (first published 1991)
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Moon
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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bruin
everyone loves this book. well, most people. but i gotta say that the way that spanbauer dealt with race/ethnicity in this book made me feel super yucky. and i heard an interview that he did where someone asked him about his right to write from the voices of perspectives of native characters, and i was super less than pleased with his answer.

which is a tragedy cuz a whole lot of this book is so beautiful, it makes me wanna cry. i have the same qualm with franchesa lia block and charles de lint.
...more
Nephyr
This is hands down my favorite book ever written. It has changed my life more than once, and most people I recommend it to end up feeling deeply about it as well. It's raw and beautiful, and sexy and scary (in an emotional way, not in a stephen king way) and dangerous and amazing.
Melisa Resch
Dec 17, 2009 Melisa Resch rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Melisa by: pamalam
ohmygod. this book. holy fuck. incred. i could not stop reading it, just devoured it. all the themes that Spanbauer deals with; sexuality, family, gender, race, class, religion- that is the stuff that makes up our lives. and he just takes it all and shakes it up and lays it back down in a totally different order, one that makes sense and feels right. I am usually hesitant to read native american stuff written by white dudes but i'm so glad i read this one. some of the stuff made my mind feel lik ...more
Damien
I thought this book was hokey. The attempts at multi-racial/multi-cultural inclusion were insulting, and the sexuality reminded me of the way sleazy neo-hippies try to seduce people.
Leah
Apr 22, 2009 Leah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: opium smokers, people who think Heroes fanfiction isn't Mormon enough, amputation fetishists
Recommended to Leah by: jessika
Objectively this book is problematic as fuck. It includes a minstrel show, presents underage prostitution as a rocking good time, rape as not that big a deal and there's a dead Indian shaman living the body of our protaganist. Oh yeah, and it has a casual attitude towards incest.
But then, our hero is a boy named Out-in-the-Shed which is also used throughout the book as euphemism for sodomy, and really, what's not to like about that?
Despite not making a whole lot of sense and being just a tiny
...more
Harper
I'm really torn about this book. It's a beautiful, heart wrenching story that often sits close to home. The way it deals with queerness makes me really happy. It addresses hard issues and is full of interesting, well crafted characters.

On the other side, it's written by a white man, and I find its portrayals of native people and women to be stereotypical in the most offensive ways possible. The main character is a queer, male, native american prostitute who is attempting to find love, himself,
...more
Tiffany
This book was amazing (5 stars, Yeah!). I just finished reading it and I'm already ready to read it again. The story involves Native Americans, and Cowboys, and Whores, and Mormons, and Homos, and Drunks, and Bad Guys, and Good Guys, and Animals and More. I think Tom Spanbauer is pretty much a genius. He tells you the horrible things that are going to happen at the very beginning of the book, and then tricks you into forgetting all about it until the very end. And then, on top of everything that ...more
Blake Fraina
Oh, how I wanted to love this book. I truly did.

Over the years, it’s been highly recommended to me by writers whose work I admire and readers whose taste I trust. It has garnered glowing reviews from the NY Times, Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly and New York magazine, among many other well respected publications.

I almost feel badly about just how much I don’t like it.

I’ll start with what’s good. The writing is carefully composed and stylish. The narrative voice is distinctive. And
...more
Lori
I love this book beyond all reason. But the other women in my book club despised it, and I can see their point of view, too. The sexual abuse of the main character is so twisted that most of them couldn't get beyond it. I didn't have children at the time and now that I do, I realize that might have been a game changer for me, too.

I found myself utterly haunted by these strange, otherworldly characters who formed such a poetically bizarre family. I still don't know quite how or why it works, sin
...more
Georgia Portuondo
Excerpt:

If the baby is a boy, and he reaches for the bow and feather--then you've got a boy, the Tybos figure, whose human-being sex story is the way every boy's sex story had better be. If the baby is a girl, and she reaches for the gourd and basket--then you got a girl whose human-being sex story is the way every girl's sex story had better be.
But if the boy reaches for the gourd and basket, or if the girl reaches for the bow and feather, then in Tybo, you got a boy or you got a girl whose h
...more
Joanna Sundby
Ouch!!! The violence in this book is so real as to be almost inescapable, the way violence is when you live with it. The day to day degradation and loss of power suffered by the main character, Shed might seem over the top to some who don't know the history of the west. But everything about this book is as crisply true to life as if it had been written in High Def. All stars are against Shed as his is illegitimate, fist nations, orphaned, and bisexual. He is put to work selling himself and his e ...more
Emily
This is one of my favorite books ever. The main character is so wonderful, with a voice all his own that might make the book difficult to read initially, but like in real life, if you spend time with him you quickly learn to flow with his unique rhythm and language. So many lines are quotable for their simplicity, beauty, and clear-eyed wisdom. This is just a little taste: "Indian people talk about the mountain that Excellent, Idaho, is built in the shadow of--the mountain the morning sun rises ...more
Xhmko
May 12, 2010 Xhmko rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Xhmko by: My first girlfriend
This book is extraordinary. There is no blushing or coy looks in this book. It is dirty and insightful. It is depraved and celebratory. It is essential reading for prude people who have would benefit immensely from this considered exploration of the delicate network of relationships in a frontier American brothel.

This book makes me want to meet the author, not just to soak in his brilliance but to absorb his compassion and be infiltrated by his empathy. The mundanity of life below not-really-a-m
...more
Alfie Paul
I adored this book. It's a charming little tale of a band of misfits and really spoke to me about being different in a world of conformity. I'd add that I've read this several times, and given it to many people who have ended up loving it as much as me.
Xander
Apr 02, 2007 Xander rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Beautifully written. Queer as fuck without calling itself such. About whores, cowboys, Indians, Mormons, and so much more, in the late 1800s... The characters will become good friends who you hate to leave when you've finished the book.
Libby
Aug 07, 2007 Libby rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like dangerous writing
Shelves: booksilove
I have heard that Spanbauer is the king of "dangerous writing" and after reading this book I believe it. If you ever wondered about my e-mail address movesmoves, it refers to something in this novel.
Candi Sary
"The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon" is like no other book I've ever read. Spanbauer is a fabulous storyteller! He does something magical on the pages as he brings his characters and scenes to life. The book's unique perspective of the Old West is fascinating. Yes, his characters are flawed and sometimes behave in ways that made me uncomfortable, but that's part of what makes the book so interesting. I read a review where the reader gave the book a low rating in part because she thought the ...more
Kevin Filocamo
This is an amazing book, one that I've read numerous times and continue to marvel at the story and the way it has been told. It is a powerful, uniquely-told story of Shed -- a person who does not quite fit the too-neat categories we use for race, gender, or sexual identity -- and his journey toward self-knowledge, acceptance and a strong, solid love. Surrounded by lovable, unique characters -- all living on the fringes of "acceptable" society -- Shed's journey is one that many will identify with ...more
Dena Rash Guzman
I first read this book in college, I think. I remember getting it on sale. I was intrigued by the cover. I read it up so fast; such excellent storytelling.

Over the years, I have met other people who have read this book (at the time I lived in Las Vegas and barely knew anyone who read to begin with) and the opinions vary so much. I think it's one of the best told stories I've ever read. I do see issues with portrayals of gender/race/sexuality, of course. And I am sensitive to those things and al
...more
Sarah
I thought this was beautiful, and its racial portrayals did not trouble me much in the same way that Francesca Lia Block does not trouble me, because the overarching themes of love and healing are more powerful than being politically correct. I guess I also fold in religious portrayals with racial portrayals, which also did not trouble me about the book but trouble me in life. What troubles me is that reviews generally don't point out that the trope of the evil, one-sided Mormon is also a raging ...more
Randal
Queer as folktales. This is the kind of book I've been craving to read for a long time--and not just because it features a multiracial, bisexual boy raised in a turn-of-the-twentieth-century whorehouse.

Yes, it's heavy-handed at times. A couple of key phrases are hammered home a bit too frequently. Race wanders in and out of the story like a bull that had sensitivity training before entering the china shop. And sex is presented either too bluntly or too abstractly.

But there's a sweet mysticism to
...more
Jeff
How the West was fumbled. A more mismatched set of tormented souls you will never meet, except possibly in Dante's Inferno and Purgatorio. And yet, despite lives of hurt, hardship, and denial, the men and women in this American-style take on magical realism will charm you earn your respect, and make you want to slap them upside they heads when they do the self-destructive things they do.

These folks have been through Hell, are too big for purgatory, and won't step foot in heaven even when the pea
...more
K.
If you're sensitive, conventional, religious or just easily offended - do not read this book. Stay far away. Sex is like breathing for these people, a way of survival, which is why the reader has to understand and then accept these characters for who and what they are. Spanbauer's language is difficult in the beginning and definitely takes getting used to but when you do, its quite worth it. You just have to understand that these people come from a wholly different place, with different beliefs ...more
Gerry Burnie
Gerry B's Book Reviews

4.0 Bees

Just because a novel may be dated, it doesn't render it any less enjoyable

Although published in 2000, I first read The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer [Grove Press; Reprint edition (January 6, 2000)] some five years ago – which attest to my theory that because a novel is dated, it doesn’t render it any less enjoyable.

Indeed, like a fine wine, many novels grow into currency as the society matures enough to appreciate them.

The Man Who Fell in Lov
...more
Kim
Not your average read. The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon by Tom Spanbauer.Which I have to say is something I value. It is however not a read I would pursue before sleep. Some of the scenes were very violent not gratuitously, however. Spanbauer pulls no punches and goes right into what you may want to duck and dive from. Scenes are set up and you know they will be delivered to you later more graphically. I ached for the main character affectionately known as Shed. His is no usual upbringing ...more
Julene
I heard about this book long before I read it; it is an underground cult classic. When I found it at a garage sale in a box for a quarter I was thrilled. I fell in love with the book. Many either love or hate this book from what I've heard. It sent me spinning, when I heard that Tom Spanbauer taught Dangerous Writing I knew I had to study with him, this started a long journey of traveling to Portland to study with him. He is indeed a master of fiction writing and a kind and generous soul.
James
This is definitely one of the strangest, if not the strangest book that I have ever read. That being said it is also pretty damn mindblowing as it looks at life in a way that I have never done before. It contains some of the most graphic sex and violence I have ever read, but when I think of the book as a whole those things don't come to mind. If you are not easily offended and enjoy having your mind blown, READ THIS BOOK!
Mouse
The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon is a beautiful tale. It's mystical and magical, it's funny and sweet, it's cruel and violent, it's sad and heartbreaking, it's dark and mean, hopeful and lively.

It's about love and friendship, finding yourself and finding your place in the world, it's about telling your 'human-being story'. It's so many things at the same time.

It's just gorgeous, is what it is.
Dawn
Feb 08, 2008 Dawn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Larissa
This is my favorite book ever. It is written through the thoughts of a young berdache boy in Idaho. My friends and I read this book within 2-3 days because we couldn't put it down. I highly recommend this book if you are a creative person with an open mind. This story should not be expected to cheer you up but it can certainly make you think.
David Pace
Tom Spanbauer's western that defies description: set in the 19C in the fictional town of Excellent, Idaho, there are two opposing civilizing forces in town: the Mormon church and the whorehouse. Out back of latter lives our (anti-)hero, "Shed" who takes his name from the shed he's relegated to and where men who prefer boys use him when their urges arise. Thing is, Shed is a native American "berdache," or gender-variant individual commonly referred to as a "two-spirit." His adventures in this com ...more
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Tom Spanbauer is a novelist and the founder of Dangerous Writing. As a writer he has explored issues of race, of sexual identity, of how we make a family for ourselves in order to surmount the limitations of the families into which we are born.

His published novels are Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City Of Shy Hunters, Now Is the Hour, and coming out April 1st 2014
...more
More about Tom Spanbauer...
Now Is the Hour In the City of Shy Hunters I Loved You More Faraway Places In the City of Shy Hunters 1ST Edition Signed

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“Looking for who I am is who I am.” 38 likes
“A person without her or his own truth ain't a person at all, Ida said. Anybody who tells you different—is a jackass, and no longer deserves to be called human being.” 3 likes
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