The title of this book caught my eye, and I immediately knew that I had to read it. As a Harry Potter fan and longtime writer of fanfiction myself, ceThe title of this book caught my eye, and I immediately knew that I had to read it. As a Harry Potter fan and longtime writer of fanfiction myself, certain aspects of the story spoke to me. I squee'd on the first page, which I don't think has ever happened to me before. How well do I know the joy of devotion to a fictional world and a pairing so profound that it trumps real-world considerations.
The Simon Snow series is an obvious send-up of Harry Potter (although the HP books also exist in this world), and Cath's fervent Simon/Baz shipping is a clear reference to the popularity of Harry/Draco fanfiction. I had the terrible idea while I was reading that I might want to try my hand at writing some Simon/Baz fic myself.
However, this is not just the story of a fangirl obsessing over her OTP. Cath is also starting her first year at college. She's feeling left behind by her more out-going twin sister. She's worried her roommate hates her and thinks she's weird. She doesn't know how to interact with boys. And most of all, she's coping with anxiety issues stemming from abandonment by her mother, and her father's ongoing struggle with mental illness.
While this book was generally delightful, it did have some issues. Levi struck me as a bit of a Manic Pixie Dream Boy at first, and while he settled down after a while, he did succumb to Nice-Guy-ism a time or two. Cath calls him out on this, but only half-heartedly. There were a few instances where feminist ideas were dropped before they could be properly addressed. The book is awash with ableist slurs, which struck an especially sour note, considering how much of the plot directly deals with mental illness. The characters also roll their eyes so often that it's a wonder they're not all suffering from eye-strain.
The story is unpolished, but charming. The characters and situations are realistic. My actual rating is probably closer to 3.5 stars, but I am rounding up. I really enjoy college stories. If you liked this book, you might want to check out "Tam Lin" by Pamela Dean next....more
This book was a gag gift from my roommate, but it looked amusing and wasn't very long, so I thought I'd give it a go. In spite of the title, it contaiThis book was a gag gift from my roommate, but it looked amusing and wasn't very long, so I thought I'd give it a go. In spite of the title, it contains more practical advice and less goofy humour than one might expect. If I were actually a lesbian, I'd probably have given it a better rating. Aside from my being obviously not the target audience, the book's main problem is that it is very dated. It was published in 1996, when the internet was still in its infancy, and gay marriage seemed like an impossible dream. There are more than a few in-jokes and pop-culture references that went right over my head. But if I were a lesbian living in the mid-90's, this book would potentially be a genuine treasure. It has tons of advice for meeting allies and romantic partners, for coming out to parents, friends and co-workers, for regional resources, and for good books, movies and music for women-oriented women (a list that would, today be much, MUCH longer). Best moment in the book (for me)? "The lesbian answer to Morrisey's whining, ultra unhappiness is Ferron, the gin-sodden antidote to militantly cheerful folksingers. Her songs are resolutely unhappy and forever mopey. More than resembling Morrisey or redoing Dylan, she is the lesbian Leonard Cohen and thank god someone is." You don't say. I'll just be adding her to my library list, then.......more
A couple of months ago, I read Cohen's teen novel "Easy". Now it is clear to me that her story of teenage promiscuity and redemption is largely autobiA couple of months ago, I read Cohen's teen novel "Easy". Now it is clear to me that her story of teenage promiscuity and redemption is largely autobiographical. "Loose Girl" is a memoir of Cohen's youth and early adulthood, a candid telling of out-of-control sex, drugs and loneliness. Her narrative is matter-of-fact to the point of being almost bleak. Her mother was absent for much of her youth, and needy when she was around. Her father, who raised her and her elder sister, comes off as immature and permissive, trying to gain his daughters' love through money and zero boundaries. Hungry for affection, Cohen seeks the attention she longs for from boys and men when they begin to notice her. Her life becomes a series of destructive patterns: Friends, family, hobbies are all secondary to boys. She does not seem to exist within herself, but is only validated through appreciative male eyes. She conflates sex with love, and is disappointed when it doesn't filll the emptiness inside her. My parents were not like her parents. My youth did not greatly resemble hers. And yet there are certainly moments in the narrative that brush my life in uncomfortable ways, like she is a caricature of me, and I found myself thinking, "I've done/thought/felt that." I've been needy and desperate. I've felt validated by others' attention. I've had a short attention span for serious relationships when someone more fun/less work captured my attention. Through high school and college, Cohen seems to fall straight into bed with every male who catches her eye. She has a few serious boyfriends, but her need and lack of self-confidence, as well as the flaws of the men she chooses, always end up causing the relationship to implode and sending her into a downward spiral of desperation and random sex. Let me state here that I don't think all teenage sex is inherently self-destructive, but I do think there are unhealthy ways of going about it, and Cohen's choices fall very firmly into the latter category. I had thought that the book would wrap up with a hard-won tale of redemption. Cohen is clearly an insightful and self-aware adult who is able to speak honestly and articulately about her past. In a way, she does find some measure of redemption. She meets a good guy, they take things slowly, they become engaged and get married. They love one another, and she is content. But she's not "cured". One night at a bar, a man approaches her, and she feels that familiar tingling -- that need to be desired -- and she almost slips. She doesn't though, and she goes home that night knowing that she's probably always going to struggle with these feelings, and every time, she's going to have to make a choice. And so am I. I want to believe that chapter of my life is over. I've been single for a while now, and while I don't feel the need to rush into anything anytime soon, I feel like I'm getting a clearer idea of what I want. I think this book helped a bit....more