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>Will Grayson, Will Grayson

June 28, 2010

>For the record, every time I saw the title of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan I thought it was one of the least inviting titles for a YA novel that I’d ever seen. Yes, there are two characters named Will Grayson and they meet. But then I got to page 307 of this 310-page book, and I immediately loved the title; it actually kind of brought tears to my eyes.

The circumstances under which I read the book certainly contributed to my enjoyment of it; every two years I go with a group of college friends to one of the many barrier islands around Charleston, South Carolina and we rent a couple of houses, go to the beach every morning, see the sights some afternoons, eat at seafood restaurants, and play card games or drink and chat most nights. It’s always a perfect week, and this year the weather was also perfect–hot and sunny every day. We were coming back from dinner one night, six of us, and I said “I sleep so deep[ly]* here, and I don’t think it’s just the drinking….” Amid the laughter came a challenge to “put THAT on your blog” to which I’ve just responded.
*I said “deep” which is fine in conversation, but looks like a mistake when it appears in writing.

Anyway, there were nine people staying in our house, and I kept reading a bit of Will Grayson, Will Grayson while waiting for someone to walk somewhere with me or for my turn in the shower.

Even though I don’t agree with this snotty adolescent view, I enjoyed coming across it:
“now, if there’s anything stupider than buddy lists, it’s lol. if anyone every uses lol with me, i rip my computer right out of the wall and smash it over the nearest head. i mean, it’s not like anyone is laughing out loud about the things they lol. i think it should be spelled loll, like what a lobotomized person’s tongue does.”
If I ever type “lol” it’s because I really am laughing out loud, as I did at that passage.

I also like the adolescent take on what the other Will Grayson’s living room is used for:
“the room where the nonexistence of Santa is revealed, where grandmothers die, where grades are frowned upon, where one learns that a man’s station wagon goes inside a woman’s garage, and then exits the garage, and then enters again, and so on until an egg is fertilized….”

What I love most about this novel is the transformation of the lower-case Will Grayson’s view of love and possibility. He goes from the kind of clueless–and not very well-read–adolescent who thinks that other people can live in a
“musical cartoon world, where witches like maura get vanquished with one heroic word, and all the forest creatures are happy when two gay guys walk hand-in-hand through the meadow, and gideon is the himbo suitor you know the princess can’t marry, because her heart belongs to the beast. i’m sure it’s a lovely world, where these things happen, a rich, spoiled, colorful world, maybe one day i’ll get to visit….”
to the realization that maybe the world that the lover he has rejected keeps offering him is actually a real world, if he has the courage to help dream it up and believe in its magic.

I simply can’t fail to love a novel in which an adolescent character is capable of making this kind of distinction between philos and eros:
“I don’t want to screw you. I just love you. When did who you want to screw become the whole game? Since when is the person you want to screw the only person you get to love? It’s so stupid, Tiny! I mean, Jesus, who even gives a fuck about sex?! People act like it’s the most important thing humans do, but come on. How can our sentient fucking lives revolve around something slugs can do.”

Most of all, given my circumstances, sharing a house with people I’ve known since college, with all our kids going off together to the lower level and getting along so well we occasionally called them up to see a little more of them, I loved the passage in which upper-case Will Grayson says to his friend Tiny
“I want you to come over to my house in twenty years with your dude and your adopted kids and I want our fucking kids to hang out and I want to, like drink wine and talk about the Middle East or whatever the fuck we’re gonna want to do when we’re old.”
And that is exactly what Ron and I were doing, with two other couples who are married to people of the opposite sex and one same-sex couple who have been together for sixteen years and would like to be married. We talked, sunned, built sand castles, walked, ate, and drank wine.

And I finished reading this excellent book, whose excellence is not only due to the circumstances of the reading, although those were pretty close to optimum, in the world I’d created for myself: hot and sunny, beside the ocean, with some of my best friends. What are the basic components of the happiest “musical cartoon world” you can imagine for yourself? And how often do you get to be there?

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 28, 2010 10:53 pm

    >What a fabulous review, Jeanne! I didn't want to read this book before, but now… well, now I do 🙂

  2. June 29, 2010 11:06 am

    >I agree – fabulous review! So personal, smart and fun. The best times really are the ones when Hub and I are cracking jokes and saying the silly things that make each other laugh; usually sitting around the kitchen prepping or cleaning or planning adventures.

  3. June 29, 2010 12:59 pm

    >That trip sounds lovely. I wasn't keen even though WG, WG is by two powerhouse writers that I love. It sounded like a YA 'Sliding Doors' to me, but you've converted me with quotes.

  4. June 29, 2010 10:00 pm

    >I simply can't fail to love a book blogger who uses the words "philos" and "eros" in a review of a YA novel. :p

  5. June 29, 2010 10:32 pm

    >Both the book and the trip sound fabulous!

  6. June 30, 2010 12:27 am

    >I love this review, and I'm glad the book hit the spot with you and what you were doing. Books like that are some of my favorites, even if they're not stellar books (not saying this isn't, you know what I mean). Your week away sounds lovely.

  7. July 1, 2010 3:56 pm

    >I'm so glad you liked this! This is one of the best reviews for WGWG I've read.

  8. July 1, 2010 5:36 pm

    >I'm glad my story about reading this one hit some chords, and that some of you are reconsidering this novel.

  9. July 7, 2010 11:49 pm

    >I love these lines you include from the book. It took me a little longer to love the book, but I couldn't help love the little nuggets of adolscent wisdom along the way. And I find myself using LOL. I can't help it. Sometimes there's not other way to convey that what someone said really did make you laugh out loud. 🙂

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