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The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  2,740 ratings  ·  349 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 ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published January 6th 2000 by Grove Press (first published 1991)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  2,740 ratings  ·  349 reviews

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Jan 10, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
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.
Sep 03, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shed is just the best character ever written. Or is it Ida and Alma? I adore this book like treasure.
Melisa Resch
Dec 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Blake Fraina
Jul 14, 2011 rated it it was ok
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
Egypt Yates
Mar 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An older person I deeply respect told me this is the book they give to potential lovers and friends as a sort of vetting process. Those too offended to appreciate it are not, as she says, invited to dinner.

For myself, I will be sitting at her side.

This book is a masterpiece.
Apr 22, 2009 rated it liked it
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
Jun 24, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: queer
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.
Michael Campbell
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was ok
This may very well be a very good book, but it isn't for me. All of the characters are hypersexual to the point that it seems ridiculous to me, and I'm unable to relate to any of their thoughts or motivations.

The author tries very hard to wrap the constant sex scenes in poetic words, and it didn't work for me. I ended up scoffing at half of the novel, but this could very well be my own bias(not being a very sexual person myself).

I do have a hard time imagining certain scenes not being
Feb 24, 2008 rated it liked it
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,
Dec 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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,
Lisa The Novel Approach
“What’s a human being without a story?”

Author Tom Spanbauer’s storytelling is delivered in a method he calls “dangerous writing”. His brand of prose—plain-spoken and evocative, personal and sensual, forcing readers to face things we may not wish to see—places the inscape in direct communion with the story’s landscape. It is the act of looking people in the eye, because to look into someone else’s eyes situates us all on a human level, making it difficult, if not impossible, not to commiserate.
Joanna Sundby
Jan 30, 2012 rated it liked it
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 ...more
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
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shed is a half Native Americwn bisexual prostitute, who lives in a brothel, while he is also searching for his father during the time Mormons move into the state of Utah (20th century).

This summary already sounds super crazy and this book is even more crazy. It is partly hilarious, witty and highly amusing. Some parts I really disliked: the book is extremely sexually explicit, plus extreme violence, rape, and incest can be found (trigger warning).

I am not sure how to rate it. It's somewhere
Will Pryer
Aug 13, 2017 rated it did not like it

On the surface, this book sounded exactly like the sort of book that I would thoroughly enjoy: an exploration of race, gender, sexuality and spirituality under a western backdrop. However, whilst these topics are touched upon, I was sorely disappointed by Spanbauer's preoccupation with 'dicks' and 'f**king' which ultimately ruined this book for me, along with the pointless conclusion.

It becomes immediately clear that Spanbauer does not want to shy away from taboo topics in this novel,
Georgia Portuondo
Feb 06, 2008 rated it really liked it

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
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I really don't know how to review this book.

It's kinda like a Tom Robbins Western, but better written, more succinct. Pithy as hell. Some deep wisdom from years of people watching. Insights into you the reader as you look out at the world through the eye's of Out-In-The-Shed. Sad, and brightly hilarious. Yugen aplenty.

The story of a family, a family of whores and half breeds, cowboys with mystical insight and Damn Dave and his Damn Dog. It's a story of people telling themselves their
Mar 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtq, gender, favorites
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
May 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Mar 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
Alfie Paul
Mar 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sinners and... no, Saints need not apply
Recommended to Alan by: Hearing the author
A crazy story about crazy people told by a crazy.
Should only make you wonder.

Portland author Tom Spanbauer sure is more gray-haired in person than in the photo on the back cover of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon—but then, I'm a lot grayer than I was in 1991 as well.

Spanbauer himself prompted me to explore his work, you see—I was part of the packed house for a reading he did during a recent benefit for a local drummer. Sure, I was really there to hear a band called Bloodkin, with
Candi Sary
Oct 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"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
Cynthia Sillitoe
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Okay, so there's story behind this book in my house. My mom loved it, but every time she read it, she teased me about the age I had to be to read it. 18, 21, 25, 30. Last time she read it, she said I had to be 40. I was 33 when she died and I set it aside as my 40th birthday present from my mom.

First off, I wish it were on Kindle because the font is small and I tend to skim things.

Second, just a little more sperm and ejaculation than I care to read about and a little too much romanticizing
Dena Guzman
Jul 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
George Ilsley
Sep 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I remember liking this book, but I read it long ago. I remember liking it because the historical setting was unusual. I remember the language was beautiful. I remember it was different that the other "gay" books of the day. I remember wanting to read it again, and now I wonder, do I have a copy? Where is it? Did I thrust it upon someone, never to see it again? That's what happens with the best books.
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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
“Looking for who I am is who I am.” 56 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.” 5 likes
More quotes…