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The Substance of God: A Spiritual Thriller Paperback – 1 Jan 2004

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Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Perry Brass grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, equal parts Southern, Jewish, economically impoverished, and very much gay. To escape the South's violent homophobia, he hitchhiked at seventeen from Savannah to San Francisco, California (over 3,000 miles)--an adventure, he recalls, that was "like Mark Twain with drag queens." He has published sixteen books and been a finalist six times for Lambda Literary Awards in poetry, gay science fiction and fantasy, and spirituality and religion. His novels "Warlock" and "Carnal Sacraments" both received "Ippy" Independent Publisher Awards from as Best Gay and Lesbian Book. "Carnal Sacraments" was also a finalist for a Best Book of the Year Award from ForeWord magazine.

His newest book, "King of Angels, A Novel About the Genesis of Identity and Belief," set in Savannah, GA, in 1963, the year of J.F.K.'s assassination, has been compared "To Kill A Mocking Bird," and has received rapturous reviews from readers and the press alike. His previous book, "The Manly Art of Seduction," lauded in many reviews, received a Gold Medal IPPY Award as Best Gay and Lesbian Non-Fiction book in a very crowded category. Although "The Manly Art of Seduction" has become the "go-to" book about male-on-male relationships, it has also attacted a universal readership because of its humanity, humor, and approach to actually understanding men and how they approach intimacy.

He has been involved in the gay movement since 1969, when he co-edited Come Out!, the world's first gay liberation newspaper. In 1972, with two friends he started the Gay Men's Health Project Clinic, the first clinic for gay men on the East Coast, still surviving as New York's Callen-Lorde Community Health Center. In 1984, his play Night Chills, one of the first plays to deal with the AIDS crisis, won a Jane Chambers International Gay Playwriting Award.

Brass's numerous collaborations with composers include the poetry for "All the Way Through Evening," a five-song cycle set by the late Chris DeBlasio; "The Angel Voices of Men" set by Ricky Ian Gordon, commissioned by the Dick Cable Fund for the New York City Gay Men's Chorus, which featured it on its Gay Century Songbook CD; "Three Brass Songs" set by Fred Hersch; "Five 'Russian' Lyrics," set by Christopher Berg, commissioned by Positive Music; and "Waltzes for Men," also commissioned by the DCF for the NYC Gay Men's Chorus, set by Craig Carnahan. His latest musical collaboration,"The Restless Yearning Towards My Self," set by opera composer Paula Kimper, was commissioned by Downtown Music.

Perry Brass is an accomplished reader and authority on gender subjects, gay relationships, and the history and literature of the movement towards GLBT equality. He has taught numerous workshops and classes in writing and publishing fiction, and on the hidden roots of an eternal gay culture. He lives in the Riverdale section of "da Bronx," part of New York City, with his life partner of 32 years, but travels widely in Europe and other parts of the world. He can be reached personally through his website,

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I came back squirming, wide-awake, alone. Read the first page
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Adventure, Erotica and the Supernatural 12 Feb. 2004
Format: Paperback
The reason I choose to read this author is usually because I'm seeking something other than that which fits neatly into any particular niche. Science fiction has its superstar writers and GLBT literature, erotic or otherwise, has it own community of talent. It's refreshing to have access to fiction that combines seemingly disparate elements such as The Substance of God does. True it requires at least as much suspension of disbelief as some high fantasy or soft sci-fi, but it's worth the price of admission. Brass puts forth some interesting theories on the existence, or at least the interpretation of the concept of godhead. The plot is a fast-paced adventure with a number of unexpected twists and turns even when the requisite sex scenes occur. All of this and a generous share of international intrigue included as well. The protagonist struggles with his own internal conflicts especially with regard to the nature of death and to the definition of spirituality, themes which are not exactly abundant in gay or lesbian erotica. Although I would have preferred a more explicit conclusion, the aforementioned issues resonated enough to hold my interest throughout the book.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Not Such a Stretch 28 Aug. 2010
By Milton E Ford - Published on
Format: Paperback
In its combining the themes of gay sex and religious concerns, Perry Brass's spiritual thriller is much less a "stretch" now than it was when it was just a few years ago when it was first published. It contributes to a growing movement of looking at religious topics through a queer lens, extending into popular, genre literature the work of those who study and write about scriptures from a queer perspective.

The Substance of God is about sex, spirit, religion, marriage, life, death, and, oh yes, science, all in nearly equal portions. That is an enormous thematic undertaking, but, for me, Brass pulls it off with room to spare. Each of these themes could easily sustain extensive examination, but for the artistic tension of Brass's novel, the important thing is how they play against and into each other to populate and set into action the fictive world he creates.

The sex is graphic and gay, mostly. And that plays out in different ways for the main characters, examples being the scientist, Dr. Leonard Miller, the main character who uses kinky sex as an escape from the lab and a religious man, Ted Richards, a pivotal character introduced half-way into the novel, who resists being attracted to gay sex but who seems to be drawn to it all the more powerfully because of that resistance.

The spiritual realm is present throughout in terms of the plot driver, the mysterious substance, which gives the novel its name. There is also Biblical interest, both historical and in the life experience (both positive and negative) of the characters. But it is "the substance" that brings together the sexual and spiritual interest in the novel.

And because of a major theme in my own writing and interest, I paid close attention to role of an apparent heterosexual marriage between a straight woman and a man, Ted, who wants to be straight but whose actions indicate that he is fighting a losing battle. Strongly to the credit of Perry Brass, like every other feature of the novel, this relationship and struggle is essential to the development of the plot.

Some books are simply fun to read at the time and others play in my mind after I've finished the reading. For me, Perry Brass's The Substance of God is both. It is billed as a spiritual thriller. As with any good thriller, the pages seemed to turn themselves, and when I was ready to put the book down, I just had read a few more pages. But for me a lot more was going on than interest in what was going to happen next. The Substance of God is certainly successful as a thriller, but just as certainly, it is a whole lot more. Its important themes (and combination of themes) linger in my mind long after the thriller part drew me eagerly to the end of the novel.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Capacino Jamarz 10 Aug. 2009
By Capacino Illuminati - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
" I loved the book, the author's storytelling is off the hook and out of this world. I have alot of respect for Mr. Bass he kept me in suspense even until the last page. I like when the book leaves you in awe and wonder and this one took me there and back, I feel diffrent about God. I feel closer knowing that as long as I breathe, he loves me.
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