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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington by Brian Francis 
2nd-May-2006 09:17 am
This novel was a totally random purchase, just because the synopsis (boy's nipples start talking to boy) sounded so funny. I didn't even know it was going to be gay fiction (believe it or not), until I started reading. Suffice to say that I didn't regret the purchase in any respect.

Francis, Brian. The Secret Fruit of Peter Paddington. 2004. New York: Harper Perennial, 2005.
Summary: Previously published as Fruit. Peter Paddington is thirteen years old and 204 lbs. And, worse still, his nipples have started talking to him, making him face up to a very painful fact--that he is not and never will be "normal."
Comments: This is simply THE BEST gay coming-of-age novel that I have ever read. Forget the uber-cool, trash-talking punks of Peter or Clay's Way; Peter Paddington is fat, pimply, crossdressing, and self-abusing--in short, more like the person you actually WERE at his age, not the person you wished you had been. He's also hilariously funny (if simultaneously tragic) in his misguided attempts to find true love on his paper route and among his teachers and classmates and his attempts to punish the natural changes in his own body. The novel's depiction of Italians and Peter's Italian female friend Daniela is perhaps a touch more negative and racist than the author intended, but of course Peter is an unreliable narrator (to say the least), so every opinion about his world that he has must be taken with a grain of salt. Which is too bad...'cause I'm not sure if I'd trust a young reader to be able to tell the difference. Speaking of Peter's world, if you're reading the American edition as I was, you'll be somewhat disturbed to find that Francis was asked to do some minor rewrites so that the setting of his debut novel would become the US instead of the author's native Canada. Unfortunately, it doesn't completely work, and what results is a universal story that doesn't quite take place anywhere real.
Notes: trade paperback, 1st printing, autographed
Rating: 8/10 - Definitely one of the best in its genre that I've read so far. Deserves to be regarded as a modern classic--so spread the word. ^_^
2nd-May-2006 01:31 pm (UTC)
you'll be somewhat disturbed to find that Francis was asked to do some minor rewrites so that the setting of his debut novel would become the US instead of the author's native Canada.

That sort of thing amazes me. Do American readers get confused if a book isn't set in the US? Do you guys have special editions of Shakespeare, with plays like The Merchant of Pittsburg, Two Gentleman of Vermont, Hamlet Prince of New Jersey, etc? Do Americans have any idea of the kind of impression that sort of thing makes on outsiders?
2nd-May-2006 01:35 pm (UTC)
You can't go wrong underestimating the brainpower of the average American. Sad but true.
2nd-May-2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
I'm thinking maybe the publisher had originally wanted to market this book as a young adult novel in the US, which would go a long way toward explaining the rewrites. (I don't think the marketing worked out, though; the edition I have is definitely an adult edition.)

It actually confused the Hell out of my at first; I couldn't figure out why a Canadian author would set his novel in the US! Not to mention that there were serious anachronisms--you don't recite the Lord's Prayer in public school here, and Italians are definitely "white people" in the US. ^^;
2nd-May-2006 01:34 pm (UTC)
How...utterly bizzare. I think I approve.
2nd-May-2006 01:39 pm (UTC)
It WAS bizzare.

Nipples: You're going to regret mistreating us.
Boy: *wrapping his chest in masking tape* Shut up.
2nd-May-2006 07:11 pm (UTC)
Well, your review makes me feel a whole lot better since this beat my book out for the Gold Medal in Foreword Magazine's Book of the Year Awards in 2004:


My book won the Bronze and, I'm tellin' ya, NO ONE would regard it as a modern classic, believe me.

Will definitely check out the book.
2nd-May-2006 10:25 pm (UTC)
Most of the stories I've read about/for gay young people aren't worth the paper that they are printed on. This one was, and then some. Even better, I thought, in its courage to write such an intensely underdog protagonist. In that, as far as I know, it is wholly original.
31st-May-2006 07:14 pm (UTC)
Review archived.
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