Archive for September, 2009

Graziano Giancarlo Marcello Buonfiglio (our main character)


  1. Joseph Buonfiglio – father (estranged)
  2. Nadine Buonfiglio – mother (estranged)
  3. Charlotte Buonfiglio – sister (estranged)
  4. Ryan Buonfiglio – brother
  5. Pietro Buonfiglio – paternal grandfather (deceased)
  6. Annunziata Buonfiglio – paternal grandmother (deceased)
  7. Raimondo degli Angeli – maternal grandfather (deceased)
  8. Maria Grazia degli Angeli – maternal grandmother (deceased)
  9. Evan Smart – former fiance (deceased)
  10. Brian Gutensohn – teacher/roommate/surrogate father
  11. Claire Breedlove – psychotherapist/surrogate mother
  12. Mykhaylo Karbanenko – former classmate-cum-boyfriend

On the outside, you would think that Graziano Buonfiglio’s life is perfect. A competitive bodybuilder and sometime stripper, he is blessed with a smooth, rock-hard, defined body and an appendage that refutes the myth that all bodybuilders have, as David Niven drolly put it, “shortcomings”. He is one of the up-and-comers on the bodybuilding scene, and an openly gay one at that, and is as apt in cooking up a storm as he is posing in trunks on stage.

But Graziano’s life could not be more horrible if you tried. His successes have failed to compensate for years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of his parents, vairous relatives, people at school, etc. Ever since he was a little kid, Graziano felt estranged from other people. He did everything that he could to win them over, but it only resulted in daily beatings and withholding of presents and such.

The only people who came to his aid were his brother Ryan, and most importantly, his grandparents. They sheltered Graziano whenever they could, and both sets of grandparents provided unconditional, emotional support. Many times they called the authorities on Nadine and Joseph, but because of Joseph’s rather deep connections, Graziano never stood a chance of legally being adopted by anyone else.

Even at school, Graziano was chronically unpopular. Not only did he have to go to schools far removed from his neighborhood, but he went to school with some of the most violent students in Toronto. No one came to his aid. Even gay kids that he met, rebuffed him because he didn’t fit their idea of a gay kid. Suicide attempts were the order of the day.

Still Graziano tried to make something out of his life. He graduated from secondary school and got a scholarship for the University of Toronto, and was looking forward to a better life… until his grandparents were killed weeks apart. His support system gone, Graziano tried to solder on. At university, where he excelled for the first time in an academic environment, he met Evan Smart, a student who had fled life in Mormon America for a better life in Toronto.  Evan became his lover, best friend, and support… until he was beaten to death in a gay-bashing.

Those losses shook Graziano up completely, and worse, they were never investigated in full. Graziano now believes that those deaths are part of a conspiracy against him.


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I initially set this story in San Francisco, my hometown. I wanted to write a story set in the Bay Area, as a tribute of sorts to my home area. But in early April of this year, I spent Spring Break in a relatively unusual place: Toronto.

Why? Well, I always wanted to go to Canada. Plus, I am not the kind of person who fancies himself on MTV, drunk on the beaches of Cancun and cavorting with anything and everything like a giant douche-bag.

I was in Toronto for a week. The weather was cold and it even snowed, which was a delight for me, since I had never seen snow up close. Despite the odd weather in early spring, I managed to have an enjoyable time. Many Canadians have a love-hate relationship with Toronto, but I personally fell in love with it: the St. Lawrence Market, the Corso Italia, traipsing along the underground PATH, even the relatively desolate area where my hotel was, brought some charm. My one complaint was that the Church & Wellesley neighborhood left me wanting, though there were some nice people. After returning to the States, I decided that my book would be set in Toronto and its surroundings.

The title “Good People in Bad Times” comes in part from the Toronto playhouse known as Buddies in Bad Times. I came up with this title because that’s what it’s about: good people living in bad times. “Good people” refers to the main character, who you will know about soon, and the people who love and support him. “Bad times” refers both to the present world we live in (the global economy, war, etc.) and the shadow of adversity that hangs over the main character.

The time setting is the present – well, the immediate future, to be exact. My story begins on Christmas Day, 2009, and ends on Christmas Day, 2009. In between, the meat of the story is set in the last three months of 2009, beginning on October 6, 2009 (which is the main character’s birthday, as well as my own). I don’t pretend to have a crystal ball, so the chapters that you will read will, to a certain effect, reflect whatever happens in Toronto and the world at large. Ideally, I would like to have the final chapter for you at the very least on Christmas Day.

Before I get to the novel itself, I should tell you who the principal and supporting characters are:

  1. Graziano Buonfiglio (main character)
  2. Giuseppe “Joseph” Buonfiglio (father of main character)
  3. Nadine Buonfiglio (nee degli Angeli) (mother of main character)
  4. Charlotte Buonfiglio (sister of main character)
  5. Brian Gutensohn (main character’s former teacher – cum – roommate and surrogate father)
  6. Dr. Claire Breedlove (main character’s psychiatrist and surrogate mother)
  7. Mykhaylo “Mike” Karbanenko (main character’s former classmate – cum – lover)

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My name is Alex Sarmiento, and if you have just landed on this blog, good for you. I have had less-than-minimal success in the blog world. I’ve started up blogs, kept them going (barely), and ultimately left them behind. Why do I do it? I don’t have a concrete answer. The closest one is that I find that I’m not interesting enough to make a blog about my day-to-day experiences. Another answer would be that I just don’t have the patience or time to keep a blog going.

So, why another one? This one is an experiment. I’ve heard of people posting novels, poems, and short stories on the Internet, and in this day and age, it seems like a good idea. It’s hard to get a book deal nowadays, unless you’re the latest reality-show whore with half a story to tell. That bitch Lauren Conrad from “The Hills” just came out with a novel, and what exactly does she have to tell the world? Bupkus.

Now, it seems like a great idea to take advantage of new media and create a novel on the Internet in real time. You have complete autonomy over what you write, you can entertain comments from readers, and who knows? You may even self-publish the book, or even better, attract the attention of a publisher.

Okay, you’ve heard this song-and-dance routine before. What is “Good People in Bad Times”?

“Good People in Bad Times” is my first attempt at a novel. It is the story of a twenty-something trying to put his life together after a lifetime of abuse, neglect, and violence.  I have been trying to write a novel for years, but I haven’t had the time to put together something worth writing about. It was only recently that I finally decided on something.

I hope that I can keep your interest up for however long I work on this novel. I hope that, eventually, I have a hit on my hands and that this can be the start of a great writing career.

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