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Father of Frankenstein

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  925 ratings  ·  88 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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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  925 ratings  ·  88 reviews

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Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bram’s fictionalized account of the last weeks of iconic horror director James Whale—most famous for creating the original Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein—can be enjoyed on any number of levels, but what I found so exquisite is how Bram handles his story like a prism or a crystal, constantly discovering unexpected facets to refract his narrative through: a representation of midcentury sexual mores, a glimpse behind the curtains of the early days of the Hollywood studio system, a defense o ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Father of Frankenstein, later retitled as Gods and Monsters, is an exquisite book first and foremost. A satisfying meal that delivers respectful experimentation with genre, a mixture of truth and "art-truth", fabulous dialogue, and in many instances, writing that is both stunning and without pretense. Bram's such a natural at style, plain and simple. For example:

"Yes, he does have that stony, sullen masculinity that Americans found dangerous in juvenile delinquents but becoming in their soldier
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Close look at psychological breakdown. Very interesting to take a look at 1950s Hollywood!
Scott Pomfret
Jun 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally titled "Father of Frankenstein" and subsequently changed to "Gods and Monsters" to match the movie version, this novel is a subtly charming rendition of the last two weeks of the life of James Whale, director of horror flicks Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (as well as many others). At this point in his life, Whale has just recovered (somewhat) from a stroke and is living alone in his mansion. After making the acquaintance of his young, butch, former Marine yardman Clayton, Wha ...more
Feb 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rod by:
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
Francis Williams
Aug 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 16, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
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
Russell J. Sanders
Christopher Bram, in Gods and Monsters, has created a beautifully poignant novel that tells of a friendship between famed movie director James Whale (Frankenstein; Bride of Frankenstein; Show Boat) and fictional character Clayton Boone, Whale’s supposed yard man. Some of what’s here is truth; most of it is invented. But Bram creates a lovely relationship between a aging and dying gay man and a young man who sees Whale’s pain and, though not gay himself, is sensitive enough to provide the support ...more
Feb 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gay-fiction
Having just read this novel a third time, I realized I hadn't written a review. Bram's masterful blend of fact-based biography, fictional characters and Hollywood gossip, combined with detailed poetic description and an in-depth examination of illness, aging and disability, make for compelling reading.

As a fan of Whale's 'Frankenstein' films since childhood, I can now see how the gay aesthetic touch filled the 'Bride' film, particularly the final scenes, which Bram dramatizes to perfection in th
Audible headphones_icon_1

Beautifully written. A touching story. Sad and funny.
Knowing about the background makes this novel even more interesting.

A fantastic audio book with a great narrator.

In the near future I have to watch a movie!
But I don't think a movie, doesn't matter how good it is, can be as good as a book.

Highly recommended!

I should write a proper review, maybe I will. I wish I have more time for my hobby- reading and writing reviews after...
Jun 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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. ...more
Bert Z
Nov 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolute gem. If only all books were as beautiful and special and poignant, this book is EVERYTHING! I can’t recommend it enough. All the stars in all the galaxies.
Hanan Buhadana
Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
3.5 Stars
Crystal O'Leary-Davidson
Mar 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
James, just home from the hospital and suffering the effects of his stroke, finds himself stuck in the past, as his memories flood into him at unexpected moments. Clay, his gardener, is dissatisfied with his past and feels stuck in his present. Both men are unable to move into a future until their paths cross. A beautiful book. Christopher Bram is a lyrical writer of this poignant imagining of last two weeks of the life of James Whale, best known as the director of FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF ...more
John J Questore
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Is there any better subject matter to read during the month of October than classic monsters? I think not. And there's really no better book to read than "Father of Frankenstein" or as it is now known "Gods and Monsters".

I have to admit, this is one of the few times where I saw the movie before reading the book. However, unlike the other times, it really didn't matter in this instance. Both the book and the movie were brilliantly written and executed - and can both stand on their own.

But, going
Aug 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such a wonderful book and I must say the movie was a faithful adaption of the novel . I read this novel eons ago, even before they made the movie because I love the author, Christopher Bram. In case you don't this is a fictional account of the last months of movie director James Whales. Mr Whales is recovering as best he can from a debilitating stroke that has affected his mind and even sense of smell. He remembers things from his past so vividly and painfully. James Whales was ahead of ...more
Taylor P
May 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
This true-life-saga-turned-novel is deeply affecting and impeccably crafted. I was most personally impressed by the nuanced portrayal of what it was to be gay in the trenches, what it was to be gay in the early golden years of Hollywood, what it was and is to be gay when the world around you refuses to treat you justly, and at the same time how wealth can be both a means of escaping the conundrums and the doldrums and a means of entrapping you further within them. Its LGBT themes aside, the nove ...more
Oct 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Dec 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
George K. Ilsley
When adapted into a movie, "Father of Frankenstein" was retitled "Gods and Monsters" -- and then the book's title was changed to match the movie. Here we have historical characters mingling with the invented; hidden Hollywood showing itself to privileged insiders (that is, the reader). We also have an aging gay man developing a relationship, a friendship, with a younger straight man, and like any friendship the influence is felt by both.
One of Bram's better novels, and not just because it was ma
Corey Ledin-Bristol
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Thanks to a terrible thunderstorm, and even more terrible customer service, I found myself without internet for a weekend. With nothing else to distract me I decided to sit on my front porch and do some serious reading. The weather was gorgeous, the chair comfy and the book perfect. So Perfect. It was one of those experiences that every reader lives for. I was totally lost in this book.

Dec 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbtq, favorites
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. ...more
Michelle Taylor
Sep 16, 2007 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
One of the books that made me want to write again.
Mar 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A favorite writer at his best.
Patrick Ryan
Mar 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite novels of all-time.
Joel Fishbane
May 27, 2014 rated it liked it
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
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
Oct 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels, american-lit
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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

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