Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Book review 1: Swish by Joel Derfner

Book Title: Swish
Author: Joel Derfner
Price: P630.00 (Fully Booked)
Genre: Humor- -Essays
Number of Pages:  251
Personal Rating: 9/10 
Reading Difficulty: Hard 


Joel Derfner is a knitter, an aerobics instructor, a cheerleader, a go- go dancer, and a musical theater composer, but when he realizes one day that he's a walking gay cliche he embarks on a quest for deeper meaning. A very, very funny quest for deeper meaning. And whether he's confronting the demons of his past at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to "meet" men-- many, many men-- or going undercover to a conference of ex-gays, he discovers what he's looking for-- and sometimes even finds, hidden underneath the surface of everyday life-- is his own identity. In the tradition of David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs, yet with its own particular flair, Swish is a story told with not just wit but humor; not just candor but honesty; and not just compassion but humanity. 

With a catch phrase that goes like this: "My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever and What Ended Up Happening Instead..." Who wouldn't be curious enough to get a copy of this book and read its content? Well, that is not really applicable in my case.

I technically did not buy a copy and I was not  even aware of this book's existence until my cousin lent me her copy. She claimed that this is one of the best books she has ever read and that it would make me laugh so hard. If you've read my previous post, you'd know that I have quite a long line- up of books to read this summer. I was reading Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre" when she let me borrow Swish and I knew that I had to stop reading Jane Eyre to make way for this awesome book.... And, I am not disappointed that I did just that. I think I got more than what I bargained for.

For all those who know me, you might suspect that I ended up prioritizing this book because it is 'yaoi.' Well, I won't lie. True, that fact alone piqued my interest, but as soon as I read the first chapter, I knew that it had more to it than just being 'yaoi.' In fact, the focus of the book was not on the romantic part (though it is scattered all throughout and you'd see glimpses of it). I believe that it had a deeper essence: Self- discovery. I mean, who would be willing to try on different quirky jobs-- knitter, aerobics instructor, cheerleader, go- go dancer, musical theater composer-- without finding something important about his/her self?

I'm not saying that this book is perfect though it may very well come close to it. There will be times that you have to squint a little bit just to see past through the author's cynical thoughts in order to see the overall essence of his musings. The last chapter also somehow made me a little bored....Sometimes too, his sardonic quality makes me cringe a little bit, but in the end, I think his sarcasm and ingenuity added a good touch to the book. His writing, though hard to understand because of some hints at American culture, is just so flawless! The odd part here is that he is able to connect different stuff together that you wouldn't think possible. Imagine, how would you connect OCD with cheer leading? See!  It's hard! Thus, I would have to say that one of the writer's greatest skills is transition which I think would be easy enough for a person who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Harvard University (Yes, the author really did!) The greatest wonder however, lies on the fact that the author showed a lot of his vulnerable side, which can take up a lot of courage. I mean, who would be strong enough to write about his past relationships and flings when he knows that his boyfriend is going to read to his publicized work? 

If you want to read something different from the usual stuff, you've got to read this. It is not in the typical format of a novel since it is basically a series of essays that are connected to each other. Not only does it have a different writing format style, but the entire content of the book is unique! The theme of each chapter is so good and somehow philosophical to some extent. As the author learns something more about himself, you'd also start to question some of your values and other stuff. Just take a peek below, at the first statement from my favorite excerpts section... If given the chance, I would definitely recommend this book! However, I should warn you to please keep an open mind since this book tackles issues about homosexuality. If you have a problem with that, the only solution is not to read it. It's that simple.


How had I gone so easily from feeling excluded to doing the excluding? Did I dislike the reminder that I hadn't always been on the inside looking out? Was I so relieved to be there that I didn't notice the people who still wanted desperately to be invited in? Had I learned that the only way to be part of a society was to shun its outcasts?
"It was perfect. But I think of perfection in human terms." --Mike Combs

Secretly, I believe that most of us have a fixed amount of talent we can distribute as we choose between our minds and our bodies.

I really wish people would stop saying "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results..." Because insanity is not doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results; insanity is thinking you're the Empress of China.

Every human motive is in the end a yearning for companionship, and every act of every person on this planet is an effort not to be done.

Hebrew has two words for create, Asah and Bara. Asah is to shape something out of something else that already exists. But Bara, is to bring something into being out of nothing.

When life itself seems lunatic, who knows where madness lies? Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams-- this may be madness. To seek treasure where there is only trash. Too much sanity may be madness. And maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be." -- Taken from Don Quixote

We don physical masks in order to cast off the psychic needs we use everyday of the year. If we put on a face that we acknowledge as false, then underneath it, we can liberate our true selves.

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