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Once You Go Back

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  35 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
In 2000, Douglas A. Martin burst onto the American literary scene with his sexy debut novel, Outline of My Lover. Following up with three more books, including Branwell, a novel of the Bronte brother, Martin has established himself as an acclaimed and distinctive American writer of the new century. His semi-autobiographical novel Once You Go Back is about growing up in a s ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 2009 by Seven Stories Press
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Absolutely fucking gorgeous -- intimate and lonely, aloof and familiar, claustrophobic and distant but so specific in its awareness that even a catalog of a deteriorating home life on the edge of growing up becomes something almost like hope. Thank you!
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was ok
A novel narrated by a gay boy growing up in a tough household with an abusive stepdad. The novel reads as one long letter to his sister, referring to her as “you”. I liked moments of this, the way DA Martin sets up the inevitable clashes between a conservative stepfather and the two children he disapproves of and wants to control. Mostly, I just felt sad some people have to go through this.
Nov 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
In this semi-autobiographical novel Douglas A Martin tells of his growing up in a dysfunctional family in America's South. His father has left, his mother eventually remarries, they struggle financially and relations are strained with his step-father. but Douglas loves his mother and is very close to his younger sister, and it is to the latter that the book is addressed - note: while written occasional in the second person the book is predominately written in the first person.

The account covers
Dec 26, 2010 rated it liked it
The novel Once You Go Back by Douglas A. Martin begins with the sentence, “Pretend you are my sister.” What follows is a stream-of-consciousness account of growing up in the US South. We listen diligently, sometimes asked to be his sister, as he tells his story of what it was like to be a young gay boy and man, while living with an abusive step-father.

I have to step in here and be completely up front – I have never liked books that are told in the second person. The narrator was talking to us, a
W. M. Nickel
Dec 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
The music of the prose is breathtaking. It's intimate and melancholy and beautiful.

The writing is literary, so you're bound for disappointment if you pick this up expecting a quick, plot driven read. The writing also has postmodern elements so you're also bound to be let down if you prefer more traditional styles, ie third person past tense.

But if you want gorgeous, poetic, minimalist writing, then you're in for a treat.
Jeanne Thornton
Jul 25, 2009 rated it liked it
[f.d. I work for the publisher:] but you should still read it--good use of that one-character-is-in-second-person device and incredibly close view on what it is like to grow up on the LGBT spectrum in the rusted-out South. If you like these things you will like this book very much. If not, maybe worth skimming?
Sep 02, 2011 rated it did not like it
Sorry, I just couldnt stand the writing style of this book. the story sounded interesting, a boy growing up, etc etc but the writing style was killing me!! I couldn't finish it, or really, even get past the first couple small chapters.
Sep 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
"When he plays with us, he would pick us up in his arms and swing us, turning us through the air, making our bodies into planes, jeans flying by our blurred sights. We don't know yet he's just another high school boy, who graduated, then had us."
Sep 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Sarah by: Time Out New York
I picked this up because I was intrigued by the narration: "Pretend you are my sister," it starts. But the writing was kind of strange--detached and unclear--and I didn't really care for it or for the story.
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
A short novel about growing up gay mostly in the South.
Mar 13, 2011 rated it liked it
I liked this book a lot. It highlights the strained relationship between a father and son, and the son's adaptation to returning to his home after coming out.
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