Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan
Another year, another season of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Part of the show’s appeal lies in how deftly it manipulates the reality television template; this season even opened by separating the queens into two teams in order to generate more drama. But one tension that the show always picks up on is the dividing line between the older queens and the younger queens. This tension is especially potent right now, because six seasons in, there are queens competing who grew up with the show professionally. So you end up getting queens who have little to no knowledge of drag or camp history. Case in point: the conflict between Vivacious, an old-school New York City club kid queen, and the spry, shrill younger queens of the season, especially those who seem to think that drag is all looks. (…Gia Gunn. I’m talking about Gia Gunn.)
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
In August, Marie Rutkoski, the author of next year’s The Winner’s Curse, posited that the reason adults read young adult fiction is that young adult fiction is necessarily fiction of change. “[R]eaders are drawn to stories about first experiences, and YA literature is rich with it,” she says at io9. Reading, as I’ve mentioned to Ana, gives us access to extra lives and lives that we cannot live, and what’s more inaccessible than first experiences? It’s the reason I cherish picking up a story without any spoilers, so my first experience with a text is entirely mine. I think there are more reasons for reading young adult fiction, but Rutkoski’s point is very true.
The Letter Q edited by Sarah Moon
Obviously, it’s rather tempting to start off this review with a brief note to my younger self, mimicking the entire concept of The Letter Q, but you can’t fit a punch in the face in a letter, even a letter to the past. (Look, between a punch to the face and two years of Debate, I would have sprung for the punch in the face. It would have served the exact same function in my development.) I think I first heard of this collection via Malinda Lo, even though she’s not a contributor (EDIT: she is!), and I knew I wanted to read it—besides being a treasury of good advice, David Levithan, Gregory Maguire, and Erika Moen contributed pieces.
Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
After reading David Levithan’s contribution to Geektastic, “Quiz Bowl Antichrist”, I’ve been steadily making my way through Levithan’s bibliography—you can read my review of The Lover’s Dictionary here. I thoroughly enjoyed that one and picked up this, his first novel, a few weeks after polishing it off. After Spellwright, I really wanted something special—but, while I enjoyed it, Boy Meets Boy was ultimately too flimsy for me.
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
After reading David Levithan’s contribution to Geektastic, “Quiz Bowl Antichrist”, I knew I had to read more of this man’s wonderful writing. Oddly enough, the universe agreed—I won a copy of his latest, The Lover’s Dictionary, on Twitter a few days after finishing that anthology. The Lover’s Dictionary began life as a Valentine’s Day story written for Levithan’s friends; accordingly, it was published on Valentine’s Day of this year. When I finally swung by the college post office to pick up my book, I took it back and read it in one setting. That’s both because of the fact that this book is so short—it’s a collection of dictionary entries—and because Levithan’s writing is so wonderful.
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci
Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd is one of those books I think everyone has read but me, albeit not in the massive numbers as, say, the Millenium trilogy. One of my cousins picked it up from my favorite independent bookstore the last time he visited my stomping grounds, a woman in my writing group read it ages ago, and other book bloggers have picked through it. The arresting cover—I’ve always loved pixel art—is eye-catching and the subject matter definitely appeals to someone who thoroughly identifies as a geek.
As I already know and have been learning in my young adult and children’s literature class, it’s important for developing kids to have fictional characters they can identify with. This is hugely important for queer kids—it’s why I’m not happy with Glee, with its legions of teenage fans, for dismissing the possibility of bisexuality last week. I’m sure I would have sorted out things earlier had I encountered a fellow asexual in fiction. Today, we’re going to look at two books concerning queer characters—one that’s sadly realistic, and one that presents something a bit brighter.