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June1999
Scissors, Paper, Rock
by Fenton Johnson
Scissors, Paper, Rock is a book of insight and honest love; it has the lyricism of family legend, and the dead-on truthful ring of a report from the trenches. Fenton Johnson has made something wonderful here.”
—Barbara Kingsolver, author of Pigs in Heaven

“The emotional power of Scissors, Paper, Rock resides on a plot of land in Kentucky.... [It] chronicles the courtships, the births, the deaths and the agonizing disappointments of two generations of the Hardins of Strang Knob.... When we first meet Tom Hardin, the patriarch of his dwindling family, he is an old widower fighting terminal cancer and puttering away the last months of his life in his workshop. Unknown to Tom, his thirty-six-year-old son, Raphael, who has come to visit from his adopted home of San Francisco, is fighting battles of his own: not just AIDS, but anger, alienation, and an agonizing wistfulness.... Scissors, Paper, Rock is a seductive rumination on the ways that memory can torment or soothe, and sometimes do both at the same time.”

—San Francisco Chronicle

Scissors, Paper, Rock is a book about family, a book about memory, a book about love.... Its greatness lies in Johnson’s ability to unfurl a mural depicting love and family and community as a continuum.... Scissors, Paper, Rock may be the best novel to date encompassing the themes of homosexuality and AIDS. It is beautifully written.”

—Lexington Herald-Leader

“Read the eleven brief pieces of this brilliant novel and you’ll never again hear its title phrase without feeling chills.... Emotional jolts lurk on every page.... Every few pages you’ll pause, realizing you’ve just read one of the best paragraphs you’ve ever come across. Yes, the book’s about dying, but in the same way that birthday parties are about getting old.”

—Entertainment Weekly

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