So, I really tried to get to posting on time last week. Really, I did. But I wanted my son to meet my friend’s first squishy newborn son and there is only a window of opportunity for these things. I am sure that my tsunami of readers will understand.
I have actually been considering posting every other week. I did last summer, and I felt that it backlogged my posts which is not a bad thing, but that would not be the purpose this time. I need to be reading things to hone my writing: short stories, lit mags, poetry, my New Yorker magazines, types of books I might not want to post on here, nonfiction books about writing or to learn more about topics I might want to include in my writing. I think for August I will trial space it to every other week and see what other things get worked on. Blogging is fun and it has become emotionally safer than writing things to potentially submit and the weekly schedule gives me an excuse to continue taking the safe way of writing blog posts instead of taking on more challenges with my writing.
I am training as well as trying to continue to challenge myself with writing. I managed to get the motivation back to train for triathlon #3. Does that make me a triathlete yet?
Also, grocery store malt beverage disguised as a delicious and festive champagne is a little butt kicking even when I fancy it up with rainbow sherbet.
So the inevitable Read Harder cave in resulted in posting on two LGBTQ+ books. This is a serious hole in my reading. My reading used to have a hole created by a dearth of celebrity memoirs and I don’t like admitting that that was filled before the lack of LGBTQ+ reading. I didn’t even intend for this post to land at the time of Trump’s announcement about the transgender community serving in the military, but neither are these about transgender, but homosexual males. Issues with gays are old hat compared to people who are transgender! And in case anyone is wondering, discrimination hurts people more than the way they were born, so…. But I digress:
Drawn Together, Z.A. Maxfield
BookRiot gave this as an example of a book that would fit their requirement of a gay romance novel. I think it is a self pub, which I don’t think is unusual for a book with that specific of a niche.
I don’t have a lot of experience with any sort of romance novel, so I don’t know how it would be in comparison to the romance genre in general. I follow some bloggers and writers of romance books on Facebook and this still has not encouraged me to check out the genre more thoroughly. I picked up a Nicholas Sparks from a giveaway bin and it still is sitting in my bag. So, romance has not ever been really one of my ‘things.’ I could use more exposure to the genre, though.
That said, the book wasn’t bad. The dialogue was a little stilted at times, unrealistic, and I could not tell if one character calling the other ‘cher’ was meant to be affectionate or derogatory.
I have actually heard of the trope in gay lit where one character is unaware at the beginning of the story that they are attracted to the same sex. That is the case here, which the book blurb is clear about. The other element driving the plot is one of the men having a stalking, psycho killer that threatens his life, the stress that the characters experience that sharpens their feelings toward one another, especially for the guy who believes at the start of the story, that he is straight.
I might read other gay romance after reading this one. There was another on the BookRiot list of acceptable books, one about a bed and breakfast, that looked interesting to be able to compare this one to. Not anytime soon, though, as I am making my way through lists I never said I would.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Benjamin Alire Saenz
This one was for the requirement of a YA/middle grade book written by an author who identifies as LGBTQ+.
I have come to the conclusion that a good YA novel is one that captures what it is like to be a teenager, and this one has the added bonus of what it is like to be a gay teenager. Most teenagers wonder where they fit into the world, but this particular teenager Aristotle has the added level of really never feeling like he fit in and his parents notice. Like, he takes the ‘don’t fit in’ piece to a totally new level. And Dante does not even know how truly Mexican he is.
Saenz has sparse and clean sentences and he does not ride heavily on description, but he says all the true and painful things in this simple language that makes the story shine. It is even sparse and simple through some very dramatic events that show the boys in the end who they really are. It clearly shows Aristotle’s frustration with his family story and how that ties in to who he is and his style of communicating and his family trying to evolve, too, through their own shadows.
This story was a work of art. It is really something special with it’s multilayers and speaking to a set of underrepresented teens without being dramatic or maudlin. I love it for that, too. I deal with many underrepresented teens in my life. I am glad Saenz can write about something he knows so beautifully.
Due to it’s accolades it was on my TBR forever, so I am not completely ignoring my goal of reading it all down in favor of looking at a challenge to diversify my reading. This also inspires me to read another of the same I have, I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson.
I am glad for both of these categories being on the Read Harder list this year. There are also in my opinion too many comics, not as important as understanding diverse viewpoints, but as I possibly have a reluctant reader on my hands it might not be an entirely bad thing.
So I am going to see if posting bimonthly will help me focus on other writing projects where I will be challenging myself and pushing through the anxiety that nothing is any good. Knitting less will also help with this but no promises.