A WRITER'S WIT
Gay men should not adopt the sophomoric model of heterosexual dating; gay men should always have sex first.
John Rechy, Author of City of Night
Born March 10, 1934*
[*conflicting sources say 1931]
My Book World
You may be wondering why I would read your book, Not That Kind of Girl, in the first place. After all, I’m male, sixty-six years old, and gay. (May that last one provide a clue as to why I love your book.)
First of all, I luv, luv, luv your HBO series, Girls—the one you produce, write (at least some episodes), direct, and star in. I find it enlightening (concerning today’s youth, particularly women). I find it deliciously funny, but in a way that’s different from when I’ve laughed at, say, Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett, or Marlo Thomas—in the distant past. My mirth during an episode of Girls is fed by something that has caught me by surprise, a situation, a comment, a look Hannah (or one of her friends) shoots someone, the utter absurdity of the context. At the same time, I find Girls quite poignant: Hannah does many of the same things that women have done since the seventies, only better, freer, and yet with a more courageous insouciance. And yet, at times, with the same regret, the same guilt—only she seems to get past it sooner.
When I taught elementary I read Marlo Thomas’s Free to Be You and Me to my students, and I showed the sixteen-millimeter film that brought the book to life. It was a subversive act. The girls in my class, I hoped, would feel free to volunteer to do some heavy lifting (within reason) if such was required (and they did); and boys would feel free to keep the class library neat, or some lighter lifting (and sometimes they did). I never forced anything; I just made new thinking possible if I could. I’d like to believe that Free to Be helped women like you and Chelsea Handler, that you’ve felt free to become you and you, because someone (your parents, your teachers, your therapists, the voice inside you saying you could) made new thinking possible for you.
I love how you structure your book: the broad topics like sex, body, friendship, and work. And then the final one, The Big Picture. That may be my favorite section: all the anecdotes about summer camps are fascinating because most kids who don’t live where there are forests and lakes don’t get to go to camps. Ever. The same goes for kids whose parents don’t have the resources. And you save the most poignant words for last, in your Guide to Running Away. Aristotle would love these episodes, using the rhetorical device of direct address to speak to young people (and any of us who will listen). I was spellbound as I read those two sections, one written to nine-year-olds wishing to run away, and the other for girls your own age. Sage wisdom in both.
I also love the appearance of your book: that Tiffany blue hardcover contrasted with black and pink fonts against a slick white cover—that wonderfully sassy author photo occupying two-thirds of the page. And those flypages! Such beautiful yet iconic images, appearing almost like vintage wallpaper, yet capturing the emblems of your childhood and youth. Most of all, I may love the interior illustrations the most. They are reminiscent of how books were once illustrated, and not just the YA books that Maud Hart Lovelace wrote, or Beverly Cleary’s books, but so-called adult books, as well. Your hands seem to be all over this book, in a way that has been denied to writers for decades now. Kudos and congratulations for seizing control (apparently) of your book's publication and producing the book you wanted and for convincing Random House to pay for it!
Your book is one of those that ends all too soon. I continued reading and reading because one page easily followed after another, and then in two evenings, I was done! I’m waiting for the next book, the next episode, the next year of Girls. I admire your honesty, particularly when you speak of sex. It isn’t the salacious details that are most honest; it has more to do with attitude. By sharing what happens or doesn’t happen for you early on, you are, by design, hoping to help girls younger than you. And I think you succeed.
Please continue to share with all of us—male and female, old and young—more of your candor, your wit, your intelligence, and love. Yes, you seem to love a certain public, or you wouldn’t do what you do and do it so well.
My very best,
BEHIND THE BOOK: My Long-Playing Records & Other Stories (published 11/04/14). In these posts I speak of the creative process I use to write each story. Buy a copy at Amazon.com!
11/13/14 — Introduction to My Long-Playing Records
11/20/14 — "My Long-Playing Records" — The Story
11/27/14 — "A Certain Kind of Mischief"
12/04/14 — "Ghost Riders"
12/11/14 — "The Best Mud"
12/18/14 — "Handy to Some"
12/25/14 — "Blight"
01/01/15 — "A Gambler's Debt"
01/09/15 — "Tales of the Millerettes"
01/15/15 — "Men at Sea"
01/22/15 — "Basketball Is Not a Drug"
01/29/15 — "Engineer"
02/05/15 — "Snarked"
02/12/15 — "Killing Lorenzo"
02/19/15 — "The Age I Am Now"
02/26/15 — "Bathed in Pink"