The one thing I regret is that I will never have time to read all the books I want to read.
--Francoise Sagan

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

John Green is one of my favorite authors. I discovered him just a couple of years ago. He writes these smart, edgy "adolescent lit" novels (Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns) all of which have the quirkiest, most original characters. (I say "adolescent lit" because, although his characters are in high school, the novels are definitely R-Rated...especially in terms of language...occasionally in terms of subject matter.)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is Green's latest, co-authored with David Levithan...who I'd never encountered before. They wrote alternating chapters from the perspectives of two different characters both named...Will Grayson. I was fascinated by the concept and eager to get my hands on anything Green had anything to do with.

The Original Will Grayson...written by seventeen. He lives in a ritzy suburb of Chicago. Both his parents are doctors. He's been best friends with Tiny Cooper since fifth grade. Tiny is...according to Will..."not the world's gayest person, and he's not the world's largest person but...he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large." Will feels like he lives in Tiny's shadow. After a school-board member gets all upset about "gays in the locker room," Will writes a signed letter to the editor of the school newspaper defending Tiny's right to "be both gigantic (and, therefore,the best member of the football team's offensive line) and gay." Will's other "friends" end up Never Talking to Him Again, and Will takes this event as further proof that his two rules for life are essential. Rule #1: Don't care too much. Rule #2: Shut up. He says, "Everything unfortunate that has ever happened to me has stemmed from failure to follow one of the two rules." The Original Will Grayson is guarded...cynical...somewhat resentful...lonely.

The other will grayson...written by also seventeen. He lives on the opposite side of a tiny, run-down apartment with his mom, who struggles to make ends meet. His dad is totally out of the picture. The other will grayson is beyond cynical. He writes, "i am constantly torn between killing myself and killing everyone around me...those seem to be the two choices, everything else is just killing time."

Butandso...the two Will Graysons the most unlikely spot and under the most unlikely circumstances...and this novel is all about what happens when their lives become intertwined. It's ultimately about truth, taking risks, and trying and failing and trying again...metaphorically ripping the lid off "Schrodinger's Box" and peering inside, despite how terrifying that can be. It's about love in all it's complexity and all it's forms...

That's why I love John Green (and David Levithan?) so much. His novels are so entertaining and accessible...but they're also smart and layered and thought-provoking...He's a phenomenal storyteller.

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