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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (edition 2001)

by Chris Fuhrman

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270742,050 (3.85)11
Member:gabebaker
Title:The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Authors:Chris Fuhrman
Info:University of Georgia Press (2001), Paperback, 200 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***1/2
Tags:Read in 2012, 1990s, stars, *3.5

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The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys by Chris Fuhrman

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Even though the cliche punishment-for-loss-of-virginity thing happens, this novel sparkles with excellent prose. The last fifty pages are especially tight, and Margie is far more complex and interesting than the initial pages might lead someone to believe. Quite different from the movie. An excellent novel. HIGHLY recommended. ( )
  JWarren42 | Oct 10, 2013 |
THE DANGEROUS LIVES OF ALTAR BOYS - a great, attention-getting title. And it's a pretty damn good book too. But the truth is if I hadn't happened across the film adaptation of this book, I probably never would have read the book, which was published posthumously, a few years after Chris Fuhrman (1960-1991) died of cancer. It is, sadly, his only book. I suppose it's a pretty accurate look at life in a Catholic school in the 70s, even if the central characters are a bit far out in left field in their outrageous antics. Eighth grade: it's a tough time for most kids. But narrator Francis Doyle and his best friend, Tim Sullivan, are pretty unique in the way they seem to spurn all they've been taught in the rigidly narrow confines of Catholic doctrine. Self-professed atheists and talented artists, these two, along with a few other close friends who comprise their 'gang,' experiment with spirits (the alcoholic kind, not the Holy one), dope, sex, and other more subtle forms of rebellion. Francis gets brutal beatings from his father who works for a chicken-processing plant, Tim seems to be nearly ignored by his academic parents. And Margie, Francis's seventh grade girl friend has been molested by her older brother and has made a half-hearted suicide attempt. Comic freaks all, Francis and Tim's gang have created a highly offensive and obscene comic book featuring the priests and nuns of their parish. The book ends up in the priest's possession and could jeopardize their chances of graduating from the eighth grade. So they concoct a dangerous plan involving wild animals to draw attention away from their comic book offense. No spoilers here, but the narrative draws you surely and steadily towards a shocking conclusion.

There are also plot elements involving the racial tension of the times. William Blakes's poetry and art are thrown in there. There is a ghost, alligators and wildcats, and even a juicy first teen sex scene, making this book something of a teen potboiler. But the writing is good enough to pull it off.

Perhaps because I saw the film version before reading the book, I was just a tiny bit disappointed. Because the film is actually better. The plot elements are drastically rearranged in the film, with things added and omitted. The film also incorporates some great animated sequences throughout, attempting to bring to life the wild super-hero fantasies of our thirteen-year old artists. Take my word for it, it is an extremely entertaining film. I'm sure my two grown sons (now in their forties), former comic book enthusiasts, would love TDLoAB.

The differences between the book and the film are great enough that, well, the stories are changed. Here's my recommendation: read the book AND watch the film. Both are worth your time. ( )
  TimBazzett | Mar 13, 2013 |
This was a quick, fun read. It tells about a 12 year old boy, Francis and his first love with a troubled girl named Margie, as well as his friendships with his tight-knit group of friends and the mischief they get into. It reminded me a lot of Stand by Me or The Sandlot. I loved the film version of this book, so I was excited to read it, and it did not disappoint in any respect. ( )
  AlbinoRhino | Mar 6, 2011 |
Set in Savannah, Ga.
  Flossie | Nov 30, 2009 |
Interesting story of adolescence and loss. ( )
  skellytor | Oct 24, 2007 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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The antics of a band of rebellious boys in a parish school in Georgia. The tricks they get up to include creating a comic book that shows priests and nuns in compromising situations and stealing a bobcat from a nature reserve which they release in the school.… (more)

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