Kristin Chenoweth – A Little Bit Wicked
Adorable. It’s very sweet, funny, and personal without being too personal and tell-all-ish – more a collection of anecdotes than a memoir, and at times the narrative does leap around the place a little bit, which can be confusing. But it’s a cute read, very moving when it comes to her family, in particular, and there’s a lot of interesting bits ‘n’ pieces about showbiz and singing.
Tom Lennon – When Love Comes To Town
Oh, good grief. It might not be fair to judge a book about being gay in Ireland in the early 90s harshly (it was originally published in ’93, reissued a few years ago) because it is pre-’93, it’s pre-decriminalisation, but good grief. It is profoundly depressing.There’s a sad older man who tries to pursue Neil, the main character; there’s a super-camp AIDS sufferer; there are still-married drag queens…. and yeah, it’s pre-divorce, too. It is unfair to judge the book harshly for being depressing, because Ireland of the early 90s, pretty depressing, but then there’s also a lot of it that seems terribly contemporary (the stirrings of ‘Celtic cub’ culture), so it’s a tricky one to read. And even super-liberal, fag-haggy Becky is shockingly bi-phobic. There is, absolutely, a lack of LGBT Irish fiction out there (never mind about fiction that features or is aimed at teens), and I’m sure that when this was published it was groundbreaking, but it doesn’t question the stereotypes. It doesn’t interrogate them. It just uses them, straight-up, take ’em or leave ’em. There are some great moments – Neil thinking about being on The Late Late Show as the first Irish gay teen – of the kind that do ring very true, but not enough of them, and towards the end it does just get a bit ‘oh dear, just a world of oh dear’.
E Lockhart – Dramarama
This is actually a reread, which I don’t normally yap about here, although I do quite a bit of rereading (I don’t know how people can give books away once they’ve read them – don’t they get cravings a few years later?). But I loved rereading it – it’s summer drama camp, people! I love summer camp as a setting – the intensity, the newness of it, the tight but often transient bonds formed, the possibility or impossibility of reinvention – and this works so well. (I am also completely musically and dance-ily inept, so there’s a vicarious thrill in reading about people who have actual talent.)
Caragh M. O’Brien – Birthmarked
Gorgeous and heartbreaking YA dystopian novel. The central character, Gaia, is a midwife whose duty to the Enclave, the elite walled-in society, is to deliver outside-born babies to them. When her parents are taken away and a ribbon may hold the secrets of those ‘advanced’ babies, life gets a little more complicated. I am terribly fond of dystopias, and this one, which has codes and genetics and high stakes and a love interest, is an absolutely terrific read.
James Finn Garner – Politically Correct Bedtime Stories
First published in 1994, and now out-of-print, but utterly terrific collection of fairytale retellings. Some excerpts:
“One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother’s house – not because this was womyn’s work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community.” — Little Red Riding Hood
“Now, the miller was very ashamed of his poverty, rather than angry at the economic system that had marginalized him…” — Rumpelstiltskin
“Now, this witch was very kindness-impaired. (This is not meant to imply that all, or even some, witches are that way, not to deny this particular witch her right to express whatever disposition came naturally to her…)” — Rapunzel
At one point Snow White and the queen do some hatha yoga together. And the Emperor, he of the New Clothes, is merely endorsing a clothing-optional lifestyle. The jargon hasn’t dated too much, and it’s well worth the read.