No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World. A selection of posts from this blog.
Historical fiction set in nineteenth-century New York:
1. The Pleasuring of Men. A young man becomes a male prostitute in the hidden gay world of that time.
2. Bill Hope: His Story. A street kid turned pickpocket pours out his story in a torrent of words.
3. Dark Knowledge. A young man fights to discover the truth about his family's involvement in the slave trade.
For details, see below.
Instruments of Death
While doing the recent post on famous last words and gestures, I was drawn inevitably to the related topic of how we humans put our outcasts and offenders to death -- a grisly subject, irresistible. One thinks at once of Socrates, convicted in ancient Athens of impiety and corrupting the youth with his endless barrage of questions about our values and how we should live – questions that had indeed brought the youth of Athens flocking to him, as he wandered the streets and questioned the good citizens whom he encountered. As his disciple Plato, who knew eyewitnesses, tells it, Socrates was given a cup of poison hemlock to drink and then, having cheerfully drunk it, felt a numbness rising through his legs; when the numbness reached his heart, he died. All this occurred quite peacefully and painlessly, while his disciples wept.
|The plant that did in Socrates. Lacelike, but lethal.|
|A modern representation, showing the effect of the|
body's weight, and the bleeding.
Ruben Betanzo S.
|The execution of Sir Walter Raleigh. His rank gave him the privilege of a beheading.|
|Execution of Ann Hibbins for witchcraft on Boston|
Common in 1656, years before the witch hunt in Salem.
|The execution of Ravaillac. An engraving of 1610.|
|An auto-da-fe of 1716. Judgment of the accused, a lesson for the populace, and a time for penitence.|
The whole town is involved.
|Heretics burned at the stake in the marketplace.|
|The famous electric chair of Sing Sing prison, New York.|
|The gas chamber of New Mexico Penitentiary, Santa Fe, in 2008.|
Shelka04 at en.wikipedia
|The execution of Marie Antoinette, 1794. A contemporary engraving.|
Note the wicker basket in place to receive the head.
|The lethal injection room at San Quentin State Prison in California, 2010. |
About as neat as they come.
|A firing squad in Mexico im 1913.|
If you love the city (or hate it), this may be the book for you. An award winner, it sold well at BookCon 2017.
"If you want wonderful inside tales about New York, this is the book for you. Cliff Browder has a way with his writing that makes the city I lived in for 40 plus years come alive in a new and delightful way. A refreshing view on NYC that will not disappoint." Five-star Amazon customer review by Bill L.
For readers who like historical fiction and a fast-moving story.
"A real yarn of a story about a lovable pickpocket who gets into trouble and has a great adventure. A must read." Five-star Amazon customer review by nicole w brown.
"This was a fun book. The main character seemed like a cross between Huck Finn and a Charles Dickens character. I would recommend this." Four-star LibraryThing review by stephvin.
3. Dark Knowledge (Anaphora Literary Press, 2018), the third novel in the Metropolis series. Release date January 5, 2018, but copies now available from the author. Adult and young adult. A fast-moving historical novel about New York City and the slave trade, with the sights and sounds and smells of the waterfront. More excerpts to come.
"A lively and entertaining tale. The writing styles, plot, pace and character development were excellent." Four-star LibraryThing early review by BridgitDavis.
"I am glad that I have read this book as it goes into great detail and the presentation is amazing. The Author obviously knows his stuff." Four-star LibraryThing early review by Moiser20.
What was the gay scene like in nineteenth-century New York? Gay romance, if you like, but no porn (I don't do porn). Women have read it and reviewed it. (The cover illustration doesn't hurt.)
"At times amusing, gritty, heartfelt and a little sexy -- this would make a great summer read." Four-star Amazon customer review by BobW.
"Really more of a fantasy of a 19th century gay life than any kind of historical representation of the same." Three-star Goodreads review by Rachel.
"The detail Browder brings to this glimpse into history is only equaled by his writing of credible and interesting characters. Highly recommended. Five-star Goodreads review by Nan Hawthorne.
Available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.