I Say a Little Prayer

I Say a Little Prayer

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A USA Today, New York Times, Washington Post BestsellerChauncey Greer, the suave and successful owner of the Cute Boy Greeting Card Company, never wants for the attention of guys just as hot as he is. After a couple of bad dates Chauncey finds himself in church, where the minister’s message inspires him to return to the singing career he had launched as a teenager. Things heat up when Chauncey’s rediscovered singing talent lands him in the middle of a protest over homophobia in the black church, and Chauncey’s old singing partner–and former lover–makes a dramatic and unexpected entrance.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781415907573
Publisher: Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/01/2006
Edition description: Unabridged

About the Author

E. Lynn Harris was born in Flint, Michigan and raised, along with three sisters, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Harris sold computers for IBM, Hewlett-Packard, and AT&T for 13 years while living in Dallas, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. He finally quit his sales job to write his first novel, Invisible Life, and, failing to find a publisher, he published it himself in 1991 before he was "discovered" by Anchor Books. Anchor published Invisible Life as a trade paperback in 1994. Invisible Life was followed by Just As I Am (1994), And This Too Shall Pass (1996), If This World Were Mine (1997), and Abide With Me (1999), all published by Doubleday. Harris's sixth novel, Not A Day Goes By (July 2000) debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. His seventh novel, Any Way the Wind Blows (July 2001), also debuted at #2 on the New York Times bestseller list. His most recent novel, A Love of My Own (July 2002), was a national bestseller as well. What Becomes Of The Brokenhearted (July 2003), Harris's first non fiction work, debuted at #6 on the New York Times bestseller list making E. Lynn the first African American male to appear on both the fiction and non-fiction lists. Currently, there are over three million copies of Harris's novels in print. For more: www.elynnharris.com


Chicago, Illinois

Date of Birth:

June 20, 1955

Date of Death:

July 23, 2009

Place of Birth:

Flint, Michigan

Place of Death:

Los Angeles, California


B.A. in journalism, University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, 1977

Read an Excerpt

I Say a Little Prayer

By E. Lynn Harris

Random House

E. Lynn Harris
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0385512724

Chapter One


There are times when I think that I, Chauncey Dion Greer, am passing through this life on my way to the life God really planned for me. Then, at other times, I think that God must have a wicked sense of humor. Who knew? How else could you explain me sitting here in the green room at CNN on Election Eve, sweating like a fat man in a sauna wearing a warm-up suit, and staring at a tray of sliced melons? I don't know if I'm about to do something noble or if I'm about to get P-I-M-P-E-D.

It's not like my life has been without its good moments. Whenever I'm stressed out, I think back to the days when I went fishing with my daddy, and I begin to smile inside. We'd stop at Reverend Nick's Bait and Tackle with our fishing gear, purchase our supplies, and then pack it all together with the peanut butter and homemade straw-
berry jam sandwiches that my mother would make for our lunch. All the way to Blue Lake, we'd brag about the fish we were going to catch. I also remember when I won my first songwriting contest when I was sixteen. And, of course, I'll never forget when I met him.

Still, something happens to your soul when the expiration date on your love life comes and goes before you turn twenty-five. Was I getting ready to share that love life with the world because I thought it mattered, or because Iwanted to finally get revenge? Was I trying to do the right thing, or just wanting to settle the score with the person I had once loved the most but I now despised?

I stood up, glanced at the mirror on the wall, and straightened my tie. I stared at my reflection, checking to see if the makeup artist hadn't applied too much powder to my mink-colored skin and if it would really prevent me from shining once the studio lights hit my face.

Just as I picked up a small paper plate and headed for some melon, a high, annoying voice whispered into my ear.

"Mr. Greer, we have a small problem."

I turned and faced the tall, thin, pale woman with freckles dominating her oval face. Her strawberry-blond hair was pulled back in a cheerleader's ponytail.

"Excuse me," I said.

"I'm Lauren Masterson, the executive producer of Larry King Live. Thank you for coming," she said as she extended her ringless hand.

"What happened to Mr. Gains?" I asked.

"He's coming down in a few, but I need to explain something." She motioned toward the red leather couch, and we sat down. Lowering her voice so the other guests in the green room couldn't hear her, she continued. "I think you spoke with one of our associate producers, Dana Wynn, and she agreed to interview you with your face in shadow and your voice disguised," she said.

I nodded. "Yes, both she and Mr. Gains promised me that we'd do it that way. That's the only reason I agreed to do the interview."

"Yes, Mr. Greer, and I know this is a very private matter for you, but I just don't think the interview will have the punch we need if you're not willing to reveal your identity. These are very serious charges that you are alleging against a man who could be elected U.S. senator within the next twenty-four hours and tip the scales as to who controls the Senate. The repercussions could be far-reaching."

"I understand that, but I only agreed to do the interview one way," I said firmly.

She shook her head, unwavering. "I'm sorry about what you were promised, but we simply can't do it that way." She paused. "Mr. Greer, this is live television, and I need to know if you're going to go on and tell your story just as you are."

For what seemed like an exceedingly long moment, we sat face-to-face in total silence. I pondered my choices. Either decision would change my life as I knew it.

What should I do?

What would I do?

Excerpted from I Say a Little Prayer by E. Lynn Harris Excerpted by permission.
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Reading Group Guide

“Vintage Harris. . . . A story filled with sex, humor and plenty of plot twists.”

The questions, discussion topics, and suggestions for further reading that follow are designed to enhance your group’s discussion of I Say a Little Prayer, an explosive look at the fraught relationship between black churches and the gay community by bestselling author E. Lynn Harris.

1. The story of Chauncey’s past is interspersed with the main narrative. What does Harris achieve by telling the two stories simultaneously? In what ways do the past and the present play out against one another as the plot unfolds?

2. Chauncey calls himself “a reformed heartbreaker trying to do the right thing when it comes to dealing with other people” [p. 9]. Does “doing the right thing” require more than just “being honest and saying what’s what” [p. 11] with the men he briefly hooks up with? Are there consequences–to himself, as well as to his partners–that he doesn’t recognize or refuses to acknowledge? Is Chauncey’s casual approach to dating and sex widespread among men today, both straight and gay? Is the pattern common among women as well?

3. How has the growth of mega churches changed the practice of religion in contemporary America? Have these large, and usually wealthy, organizations abandoned the essential role of a church in the community? Is it possible to argue that a mega church, through its very size and marketing efforts, can attract Christians looking for a place to renew or rediscover their spirituality?

4. What was your reaction to the private party Chauncey attends [pp. 49—57]? Are the graphic descriptions of the various sexual encounters at the sex club, as well as other explicit scenes in the novel, integral to portraying Chauncey and his lifestyle in an accurate, realistic way?

5. Discuss Chauncey’s musings on sin [p. 58]. Do they express your own religious beliefs or moral principles? What specific values influence your judgments of your own and other people’s behavior? Is there an absolute moral code that applies to everyone or do individuals, religious authorities, or community standards define right and wrong?

6. Chauncey gives an important job to a new printer because he wants to “give a small black business a chance” [p. 66]. Do successful black businessmen have a duty to support other businesses within the black community? Is making a business decision on the basis of race (or gender or sexual preference) a form of discrimination?

7. Reverend Davis delivers a powerful sermon encouraging his followers to vote [p. 159]. Does the discussion of political or civic matters have a place in the church? Are there issues that religious leaders should not address? Have you experienced or read about incidents in which a minister, priest, or rabbi has crossed the line separating church and state? Is the political establishment guilty of bringing religious considerations into government policies and practices? Do you agree, for example, with Vincent’s claim that President Bush’s faith-based initiatives “get . . . ministers to sing his tune” [p. 221]?

8. Reverend Davis is aware of Damien and Grayson Upchurch’s ultraconservative views, yet he is eager to have him come to Abundant Joy. Are his explanations to Chauncey [pp. 178, 230—32] satisfactory? What are the ramifications, both good and bad, of giving Damien a forum to express his views?

9. Does the conversation between Chauncey and Damien [pp. 251—53] cast a different light on their past relationship? Do you think that Damien is sincere in his belief that what they were doing was wrong? What role did his fear of exposure play in his decision to betray Chauncey? How does Harris make their reconciliation believable?

10. I Say a Little Prayer features women only in secondary roles. Are Celia, Ms. Gladys, and Grayson Upchurch fully developed characters? Do their attitudes, problems, and achievements offer insights into lives of women in the African-American community? To what extent is Grayson Upchurch representative of a growing conservative trend in African-American politics?

11. Harris refers to several real people in the novel and also includes “cameo” appearances by characters from his other books. What does this add to your experience as a reader?  

12. The question of accepting gays and lesbians has caused disruption in many churches. Does Harris treat the subject in a balanced and honest way? Does he offer fresh insights into the gay and lesbian point of view? Does his depiction of religious leaders who reject gays and lesbians in their churches adequately explore their reasons and motivations?

13. Is the black community is more homophobic than society-at-large? What historical, social, and cultural forces might explain this?

14. From the fight for women’s suffrage to the civil rights movement, American society has been changed through citizen-led campaigns for equal rights. Is the gay-rights movement comparable to past struggle for equality?

15. The conflict at the heart of I Say A Little Prayer may remind you of a recent real-life scandal. The Reverend Ted Haggard, the former president of the National Association of Evangelicals, who frequently spoke out against gay rights and same-sex unions, was “outed” by a man who had a sexual relationship with him. Is exposing the hypocrisy of public figures a moral obligation we all share? Are there situations in which such exposure causes more harm than good?

16. I Say a Little Prayer carries a strong political message. Do you think exploring political themes enhances or undermines the power of Harris’s fiction?

Customer Reviews

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I Say a Little Prayer 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was required to read this book for a class and i absolutely loved it! I kept my copy and lend it out to all my friends!
Guest More than 1 year ago
starlight70 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I Say A Little Prayer is the second E. Lynn Harris's book I have read. The first being Just As I Am. I know there are many fans of Raymond's series with Just As I Am being the second book in the series. Frankly, I prefer I Say A Little Prayer. I was happy to know that this book was written from only one character's struggle - Chauncey, who has to face the problems associated with a love from his earlier life. This is better compared to Just As I Am, which alternated each chapter with two lead characters. Another thing that makes me prefer this book than Just is that it is less depressing. 'Just' deals with AIDS, and I don't read to feel depressed. However, I find 'Prayer' a little too fast at the end, where the twist in the story is a little too much for me to digest. There is no reason why Damien's wife's past is not known by many, if she is painted to be such. Or even the sudden switch of her wanting to be 'evil'. Although I read only the second book, I would prefer there would be no 'special guest star' from his other books. Lame. Other than that, I found myself looking forward to spending time with the book, eagerly turning the page to find out what would happen next.
ovistine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found E. Lynn Harris on Pearl Cleage's website. I'm a fan of Pearl Cleage, and she's a friend and fan of E. Lynn Harris, and I was very excited to see a black gay male author out there, so I immediately went looking for a book by him. And it was WONDERFUL. Chauncey Greer is a small (but growing) business owner and was once a singer in a boy band; he's also bisexual but leans gay, and this story details how he starts singing again and faces down a man from his past who has since turned into a preacher who speaks out vehemently against gay marriage. It's outstanding (and contains some lovely, smoking hot scenes), and it's the first time I've read a novel focusing on black gay characters, which rocked. I definitely look forward to reading more by this author.
altima313 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was an enjoyable read with good writing and good stories. The novel combines personal and religious ethics with elements of a mystery. Harris used cleverly placed story's of relationships past to give the reader their characters history. Past collides with the present. I enjoyed the appearances of old characters, Yancey Braxton ("Any Way the Wind Blows") still a diva-wanna-be and John Basil Henderson ("A Love of My Own") appears to have grown into a better man. E. Lynn Harris remains true to himself by exploring topics that are controversial. The sex scenes are explicitly real but brief in nature. I look forward to his next novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book kept me on my toes, and also taught me a few things about myself. A MUST read!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good reab it make u think bout what u would do r how u would feel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The availability of book should be received. My account was credited & I had to reorder. The book is still showing available by seller. Please remove.
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DCNightwolf More than 1 year ago
I didn't like the ghetto language from the sample... The writer knows the subject matter and has a compelling story line...
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rolltide13 More than 1 year ago
I am a great fan of E. Lynn Harris' books! This is a page turner like all the rest!!
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