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This Town Sleeps

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  718 ratings  ·  160 reviews
On an Ojibwe reservation called Languille Lake, within the small town of Geshig at the hub of the rez, two men enter into a secret romance. Marion Lafournier, a midtwenties gay Ojibwe man, begins a relationship with his former classmate Shannon, a heavily closeted white man obsessed with his image as a northern Minnesotan. While Marion is far more open about his sexuality, ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Counterpoint
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  718 ratings  ·  160 reviews

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Cece (ProblemsOfaBookNerd)
Feeling frustrated and unsure about this book, so I'm going with 3/5 overall.

Here's the thing: this book was pitched to me as a story about Marion. And all the stuff going on with Marion, that whole storyline? Brilliant. But I think the narrative got lost with the addition of so many points of view as the book went on. About halfway through the book seems to forget that Marion is our central focus and shifts to backstory and extraneous narrators that don't add as much to the overall story. The b
Paris (parisperusing)
Call me picky, but gay people of color deserve better than a shameful struggle love story.

Dennis E. Staples’ This Town Sleeps tells the story of an openly gay Ojibwe man in his mid-twenties named Marion who finds himself back in his native rez town of Geshig where he begins a secret, sexual relationship with one of his former classmates, a closeted white man named Shannon. Although Geshig doesn’t give off the obvious threat of homophobia, Marion and Shannon understand the unspoken confidentialit
Kasa Cotugno
Books by native American authors about their interconnected experience in today's world are always revelatory, and this one maybe more than most. Dennis Staples recounts the story of Marion Lafournier, who is out and at ease in his skin but searching for love on the internet. When an old still closeted classmate appears for a date, old rumors and family histories come to light. Set on and near an Obijwe reservation in Minnesota, tribal traditions clash with modern day challenges, and Marion foll ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Marion is a gay Ojibwe man living outside of the reservation where he grew up in northern Minnesota, close enough where he's not really gone. He hooks up with a childhood classmate and encounters what seems like a ghost dog, and the story unfolds from there.

I enjoyed this debut novel. There is some mystery but it isn't a mystery. The majority of the story comes from Marion's point of view but it also jumps to other characters, once or twice even jumping back a generation or two in a way I hadn't
Jessica Woodbury
3.5 stars. A literary ghost story/crime novel. I think this one appeals more to the lit fic set than the crime reader set. The structure is quite loose and the plot is not linear. Yes I know lots of crime novels have non-linear plots, but this also doesn't have a strong sense of momentum, either.

This book is about the long shadow of violence on those that it touches, especially familial legacies of loss. Set mostly on an Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota, we also see the push and pull of those wh
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I so, so enjoyed this beautifully written, unique little novel about life on the Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota. It’s a mystery, a history, and a little bit of a love story, wrapped into one quiet, pensive book. The main character, Marion Lafournier, is a young gay Ojibwe man, not quite in touch with his Indian roots, but still wanting to live nearby the rez. Marion goes on a little journey of self-discovering, learning about his town’s past, his tribe, his culture, in small, meaningful ways. T ...more
Thank you to Counterpoint Press for reaching out and sending me a copy of this book, which has been one of my most anticipated 2020 debut novels.

This Town Sleeps is a book I gratefully went into having only skimmed the blurb, which alludes to the awakened spirit of a dead dog, the untangling of a long past murder, and a young gay Ojibwe man named Marion Lafournier as the throughline. There’s a lot going on in this slim novel, and I was immediately entranced by the writing and the exciting defian
Jul 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 ⭐️

Though I was left feeling like this story deserved a better ending I was still grateful for the journey. I don't read many stories about the native American experience, this one being specifically centered around the Ojibwe reservation, but I hope to find more in the future. This is also more impactful coming from an ownvoices perspective.

The story is like a winding path. We get the perspective of many different characters who live on this reservation and were in some way connected to the
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dogs
This Town Sleeps was an indie book store selection for April. I gave it a try because I read books about Indians (the term the author uses, so I will use it rather than Native Americans) It also had a component of spirits/the spirit world that I enjoy reading about. There is a curse, a human jaw bone, and a ghost dog! The main character, Marion, adopts a Res Dog, named Basil (my dad’s name!) at the onset of the narrative. This triggers his memory of a dog dying beneath a piece of playground equi ...more
Apr 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.65 stars

Miigwech @counterpointpress for gifting me this copy to review.

This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples is a work of fiction that I consumed in a few reading sessions over the course of 3 days. While this was common for me last year it isn’t now so believe me when I say this novel is incredibly readable.

It’s set on an Ojibwe reservation in Minnesota & surrounding areas and follows the story of Marion, a gay Ojibwe man, who is navigating complicated relationships with both the living, th
"The world was always leaving Indians in the dust." (145)

Marion is a gay Ojibwe man who lives on the Languille Lake reservation near the town of Geshig where he grew up. He starts hooking up with a former high school football star, a white man named Shannon, who is closeted. The ghost of a dog under a playground merry-go-round appears, stirring up memories of the murder of Kayden Kelliher and the child and life he left behind. The story shifts perspectives through the eyes of multiple characters
Mar 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, lgbtq
3.5? Maybe? I don't know how I feel right now ask me in like four days ...more
Atharv G.
3.5 Stars

I really liked the central narrative around Marion, and I most enjoyed being in his head. Marion's desires and beliefs were often contradictory, but I think that made him a more relatable perspective to read from. I also thought his family history was really interesting, and I liked how there was an element of mystery surrounding it, especially where the jawbone was concerned. The fantastical elements are incorporated seamlessly, and I enjoyed how ambiguous they were. It didn't matter
Feb 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: poc-authored, lgbt
Dennis Staples debut novel about sexuality, spirituality, and community in a Native American community in Minnesota is overflowing with ethereal self-reflection and thoughtfulness.

Marion, a young, gay Obijwe man, has recently returned to the reservation he grew up on. Dealing with the sadness of aging and being alone while gay, he struggles to find peace surrounded by closeted men, Native beliefs, and a new dog. While trying to understand why a closeted man won't love him the way he deserves, Ma
charlotte, (½ of readsrainbow)
dennis staples release the x years later epilogue thanks

Rep: Ojibwe gay mc, gay li, Ojibwe side characters

CWs: violence, murder, implied rape, internalised homophobia
I found it a little too disjointed for an audiobook, was often confused at what, when, who and where if I lost one sentence...
Sep 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
This was such a disappointment. I was expecting something completely different instead I was presented with a slow and boring contemporary with uninteresting characters. Definitely not my cup of tea. I give it 2 stars instead of 1 because it wasn't terrible, I just didn't care. ...more
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
A cynical Native American man in his twenties, Marion, embarks upon a secret affair with a closeted white man named Shannon. Both live and work near an Ojibwe reservation in Northern Minnesota. One night, Marion's dog leads him to a ghost, and then to the grave of a promising Ojibwe teenager cut down far too early. Thus begins a sprawling, multi-faceted story of family, old legends, and being true to oneself.

The cast of characters is large and, admittedly, demands a lot of attention from the rea
Sep 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
...I did not like this book. Which sucks, because I really wanted to! The premise of a queer Native guy who somehow resurrects the spirit of a dog and tries to find out the details of a long-forgotten crime? 10/10. A fab concept. In execution though? ...Maybe a 3/10 from me.

Despite being only like 200 pages, this book came off as really unfocused for me. Though I appreciated how it was a quick and mysterious read, there's just too much going on to really appreciate any of the characters and plot
Apr 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Dennis E Staples’ This Town Sleeps was a very readable mid-twenties struggle for meaning for a young Ojibwe man living back in his home town, looking for love with all the wrong dudes, and being led by a Manidoo to solve the murder of a high school basketball player 15 years ago. This book did some things very successfully. It captured a feeling in my 20’s of loneliness and accepting less than I deserved that I didn’t particularly want to revisit, although I appreciated the art in it. It gave th ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy for review from Counterpoint Press.

This debut novel is a lot of things all at once in a slim 226 pages. There's love, there's murder, there's a mystery, and spirits. This Town Sleeps traces the intergenerational lives of multiple Ojibwe families in the town of Geshig on the Languille Lake reservation. It's primary narrator, Marion Lafournier, isn't what we typically refer to as "tradish." He doesn't believe in Ojibwe spiritual practices, doesn't believe in spirits or cerem
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I will be thinking about this for a long time.
Elena Johansen
This is so far outside my normal reading sphere that I'm having difficulty articulating what I liked about it. I'm always interested in LGBT+ stuff; I should be reading more indigenous authors; I'm okay with supernatural elements, slightly less comfortable with spiritual; but I almost never read crime novels.

It's an odd mix, and it doesn't always quite work, but overall it's a strong debut. I felt for Marion, and his history is intertwined with that of his town/reservation, and some strange goin
Jul 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Traumas, dramas, and dysfunctions. The story told not without humor. That always makes things more easily digestible:

"It's hard not to react to the sight. This guy is like an Indian Grim Reaper. His skin is coarse, dark brown with liver spots like a loaf of raisin bread. Tufts of white hair hang out from a navy baseball cap like out-turned pockets. He smiles, but the few teeth he has left are toffee brown and do nothing to improve the unsettling look."

"The eyes are the worst," he continues. "C
elise (the petite punk)
I had really high hopes for This Town Sleeps but unfortunately it didn’t really meet my expectations. Our main character is Marion, whose point of view is in the first person. I did enjoy Marion as a character; however, there were other miscellaneous, sometimes disconnected, POVs scattered throughout the book that I didn’t understand the purpose of. Marion’s romantic interest has a POV in the second person and there are some POVs in the third person. I thought this was quite confusing and distra ...more
Jennifer Pence
This novella was so good! This is a debut from Native American author Dennis E. Stapleton. It’s only 200 or so pages but he manages to tackle themes of: homosexuality, homophobia, interracial relationships, colonialism, loss of culture, spirituality, child abuse, child neglect, absentee parents, and substance abuse in those pages.

Marion is a gay man, a member of the Ojibwe Nation, who grew up on the reservation. He is openly gay but finds it very difficult to connect with other gay men in his s
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is excellent at setting and atmosphere as well as capturing that sense of stuckness that accompanies being trapped, not officially but practically, in a situation. I'm less enthused about the murder mystery. I had trouble keeping my attention on it. The generational trauma and the interconnections of it all started to make sense right towards the end, but in the middle it seemed like it should have been a series of interconnected short stories. I put it down for a while in the middle b ...more
Jan 15, 2021 rated it really liked it
Yes I read some of the reviews here so I had those I mind reading this novel. I have to say I enjoyed reading this book and was not thrown off by the quick changes in focus. I believe the various stories are important in giving the reader a sense of connection between the living and the spirit worlds. Well written and I am hopeful to see more from this author.
Jul 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
a pretty loose structure and way too many narrators (I got lost several times). the story was interesting and a voice I have not read from, though, so I ultimately enjoyed this quick read. also, at first I thought this was erotica. also, also, there was a hint of Twin Peaks here.
Shelby Harper
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was both a page-turner and everything I want from a literary novel. The characters are so real, with depth and backstory, and the plot had me either reading the book or thinking about it. I highly recommend to any person who loves a good story.
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Mt. Lebanon Publi...: This Town Sleeps by Dennis E. Staples 1 3 Jun 04, 2020 05:31PM  

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DENNIS E. STAPLES is an Ojibwe writer from Bemidji, Minnesota. He graduated from the Institute of American Indian Arts with an MFA in fiction. He is a graduate of the 2018 Clarion West Writers Workshop and a recipient of the Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship. His work has appeared in Asimov's Science Fiction and Nightmare magazine. He is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Nation.


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