TL:DR because I don’t trust other fiction.
I toddled down a rabbit hole this morning. I say toddled because I got myself out so quickly instead of losing 2 hours to doomscrolling.
I was following a series of increasingly strident flags declaring that THIS is “the great gay American novel.” And I mean, I like great novels and gay people and am interested in America and anyone who has the nerve to lift the curtain. But like I always do, I started by reading the worst reviews. That’s where the gold is, the truth, the ick, or in some cases “this was too horny for me and had too many queer characters” in which case it’s a one-click buy. But sometimes it’s:
“FUCK. THIS. BOOK.”
That’s a one-click read, that review. If it inspires such vitriol then either it’s a masterpiece or a steaming turd.
Ah. The latter.
Because I’m absolutely not a little bit sorry, but The Great Gay American Novel is not allowed to be a goddamn Kill-Your-Gays trope. Not a fucking chance.
We’ve heard those stories. They’re called queer history. Despair, isolation, mental illness, and often the only defence is to destroy all human feeling in your soul so you don’t have to cope with the fact that if everyone knew you for who you are, they wouldn’t just hate you, they would want you dead.
Boooooooorrrrrrrring because it’s horrible and spiritually deadening and it still happens in real life all the time and so we don’t need a 700 page novel about a loser who spends the whole book being awful to everyone and experiencing zero emotional growth but he just happens to be a gay man in a book about gay men so that makes it THE GREAT GAY AMERICAN NOVEL. It just feels like more trauma porn: look, here’s a walking, talking tragedy, let’s zoom in closer on all his faults. Now closer. NOW CLOSER.
Look, I haven’t read this book and under no circumstances will I ever read it (ok, a million dollars but I get half in advance.) I am basing my opinions on one review and the blurb of the book. And an interview in which the author said they didn’t believe in psychology and that people who were broken should essentially just stay broken.
That’s when I realized I’d *never* read the book, nor probably anything else this author has written. The way to help someone who is broken is to see them, hear them, love them, help them. “I see your pain. Your pain is real. Pain ends. I trust you. I believe you.” You don’t shrug and then take character notes. I refuse to read 700 pages about someone who refuses to grow, who gets no help, and whose main characteristic is being an irredeemable piece of shit. Just sounds like a novel about straight people.