The last time James Frey was in the public consciousness, he was being reprimanded by Oprah Winfrey herself for fabricating numerous events in his critically-acclaimed, bestselling “memoir”, “A Million Little Pieces”.
When he came out with “Bright Shiny Morning” in 2008, it was meant to be his comeback novel and auger his return to the public eye. But “Bright Shiny Morning” got mixed reviews — The New York Times praised the book a called Frey a “furiously good storyteller”, while The Los Angeles Times called it “execrable” — and barely made a blip on the New York Times Bestseller List.
But now Frey is taking an entirely different plan of attack with “I Am Number Four”. Produced by Frey’s own Full Fathom Five publishing company, “I Am Number Four” is a young adult novel done in collaboration with Jobie Hughes, a student of the masters writing program of The Columbia University School for the Arts. With “I Am Number Four” now having spent more than a month on the New York Times Bestseller List, has Frey finally for his grove back? Or is this success in the young adult field merely a lucky strike?
He was number one!
Growing up gay, I found very few books about the gay experience. I think it was late into my senior year in high school when I finally got around to grudgingly reading some Danton Remoto, and it was only four years ago that I finally got to read gay classics like James Baldwin’s “Giovanni’s Room” or E.M. Forster’s “Maurice“.
While I didn’t exactly have a difficult gay childhood, I sometimes wish that I had these books around when I was grappling with my sexuality. I feel like it would have made things so much easier for me and probably shortened my time in the closet considerably.
But if I had any trouble, I’d think it wold be so much more difficult for transgendered teens. I don’t think the transgendered experience has been written about a whole lot, and I am struggling to think of a book in the Western canon that does so.
Which is why it’s a good thing that there are now books coming out that tackle this particular experience. In 2004, we had Julie Ann Peters’ “Luna“. And just recently, Brian Kathcer’s “Almost Perfect” won the Stonewall’s Children and Young Adult Literature Award, given out at this year’s Newberry Awards. Of course I had to get a copy.
Definitely not a hot tranny mess
I know, I know. I’ve been remiss with my blogging duties, and so early in the game as well. But it’s been a mostly crazy few days at work and with my personal life and I haven’t been able to spare some time for the old book blog.
I did, however, have time to do some book shopping.
As most of you guys know, Brian Katcher’s “Almost Perfect” won this year’s Stonewall’s Children and Young Adult Literature Award, so finding it on the local bookshelves was a pretty good signal for me to buy it. I’m looking forward to reading it and seeing what the buzz is about.
I also got myself a copy of Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower“. I’ve heard about this book countless times from so many people, and I’ve been seeing it on bookshelves for about as long. But I’ve never really found a cover that I really liked as much as this one. And this copy’s cheaper than the other editions!
But the most important thing I did the past week was finally finish reading Scott Westerfeld’s “Behemoth“, the second book in his “Leviathan” series.
The Great War continues
Busy day today, paying bills and the like. Later tonight I will be meeting up with friends from the Philippine Tolkien Society, so I thought about putting up my review of “Leviathan” that got published about a year ago because I may not be able to write later on today.
I’m currently re-reading this YA steampunk novel by Scott Westerfeld to bone up for “Behemoth“, the review for which I hope to have up by Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.
Clankers and Darwinists and the Great War, oh my!
Finally, our story ends.
With war on the horizon, Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy bring their tales to a close. Their tales get more lurid, just like the sexual configurations they get involved in at the hotel they are staying in, but all of that becomes window dressing to the arguments for sexual fantasies, erotica, and pornography that Moore lays out in the final book of “Lost Girls”.
It’s amazing that despite the very graphic illustrations, one really doesn’t end up touching themselves while reading “Lost Girls”. Like Neil Gaiman has remarked, this is not a “one-handed” read. It is an intelligent and beautifully-illustrated book that succeeds at an incredible balancing act — that of championing sexual imagination and its expression in the arts, while at the same time warning and condemning the excesses one commits if they let it take over their lives.
I’ve already talked about Moore’s prose and Gebbie’s artwork in the previous posts, and suffice it to say that they maintain that same sterling quality throughout the work. This is a work of love, and is definitely worth the hefty price tag.
This is a fantastic read. If you can still find copies, I suggest you guys should buy it.
PS. There are no pictures for this one because there is precious little in book three in the manner of clothing or people not engaged in some sort of sexual act. C’est la vie.
I’m not one to shock easy, as most of my friends can tell you. I don’t act all offended in front of pornography (unless it involves feces or animals). I’m pretty sure that I’ve seen some stuff online that would warrant more than just a raised eyebrow. I’ve encountered people online that are pretty out there when it comes to their proclivities. And yet, “Lost Girls” can make me end up looking like that cat over there with some of the stuff within its pages.
I’m not shocked because deep inside I am actually a conservative. What shocked me was that “Lost Girls” manages to give these acts that you would normally only see on your friendly neighborhood porn sites a gloss of artistry and grace.
Just to keep everyone on the same page, aside from lesbianism, shoe fetishism, drug use (opium), patronage of pornography (how meta!), incest, and pedophilia, Alice, Dorothy, and Wendy have admitted to taking part in some BDSM (bondage, dominance, and sadomasochism), piss play (quite explanatory, I think), pseudo-bestiality, and the insertion of various objects — from chess pieces to braids — into vaginas.
DUDE. If I walked into a room and that was going on, I’d have that exact same face too.
Of course, the Neverlands vary a good deal
From the very first page, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie make it very clear that “Lost Girls” is most definitely for adults. And they never let up throughout the ten chapters of this first book, continuously exposing the reader to many different kinds of “deviant” behavior.
Here’s a quick list of what “deviant” behavior readers will encounter just in this first book: Lesbianism, shoe fetishism, drug use (opium), patronage of pornography (how meta!), incest, and pedophilia.
Will all of these squick readers? I’d understand why it would. But does it give those readers the right to ask that this book be pulled off the shelves, as some have wanted to do in the States? Hell no. I would suggest that they leave everybody else alone and do what Miss Miranda Priestly commands in that GIF above.
Older Girls, or How the Little Children Turned Out