Tag Archives: David Levithan

How They Met and Other Stories

Author: David LevithanHow They Met

My rating: 4 of 5

Love is perhaps one of the strangest things in the world. It’s universal, and yet so often uncomprehended, misunderstood, and frankly baffling. It can begin in the most bizarre, unexpected places and situations. It can develop along lines you’d never imagine. Sometimes it gets a little help along the way. All too often, it doesn’t work out. But when it does, it’s amazing, a real-life miracle and a precious, surprising treasure.

Throughout the years, David Levithan has written short stories as Valentines Day gifts for his friends–sounds like a much better gift than chocolate to me! Anyhow, a number of those stories have been collected here in How They Met and Other Stories. This is truly a delightful, if eclectic, short story collection featuring love in its many, surprising facets. The stories range from sweet and funny to serious and heartbreaking, but one thing ties them all together: they are all written with Levithan’s keen observation of people. It’s remarkable how he can craft even a super-sappy coffee-shop romance and not make it Hallmark-ey (ick). And some of his stories are truly deep and thoughtful. Personally, as an intentional single, I really appreciated his story featuring a girl who got to the point where she decided she didn’t need to be in a relationship to be a complete individual; seriously, singles don’t get enough credit and society pressures relationships way too much. Anyhow, sidetrack there. But seriously, How They Met and Other Stories has something for everyone (the stories aren’t even all “young adult” for what the label’s worth)–check it out!

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The Ultimate Book Tag

Thanks to Summer at xingsings for tagging me. 😀 This is my first time participating in a “tag” sort of post, so please excuse any mistaken etiquette, etc. This looks like fun!

  1. Do you get sick while reading in the car? Unfortunately, yes. It was one of my greatest childhood disappointments that I couldn’t really read on long car trips.
  2. Which author’s writing style is completely unique to you and why? That’s a hard one. . . . There are a lot of authors who have signature styles and quirks, but completely unique? David Levithan is probably the closest to really unique that I can think of right now–he has a distinctive flavor and also does all sorts of interesting things with person, punctuation, capitalization, and suchlike. I really enjoy that about his writing.
  3. Harry Potter Series or the Twilight Saga? Give 3 points to defend your answer. Harry Potter, obviously. Does this question even need asking? 1. British, not American. So much cooler. 2. So much quirky, fun magic–I love the spells! 3. Characters that grow and that are more focused on saving the world than on “the one,” whatever that means. And moreover, characters who have all sorts of credible imperfections and interesting perspectives. Should I go on?
  4. Do you carry a book bag? If so, what is in it (besides books)? I actually don’t usually, except to go to the library–in which case, just books. Otherwise, my books stay safely in my room or get carried by hand.
  5. Do you smell your books? I love the smell of books, although the smell of books that have sat on the shelf too long makes me sad. So . . . I guess I do? Not, like, obsessively sniffing or anything, though.
  6. Books with or without little illustrations? I love both! I guess it just depends on whether having illustrations suits the story or not. I adore books with good illustrations (and yes, graphic novels/manga/picture books are up there in my favorites), but if the illustrations don’t suit the story, I’d rather they just not be there at all.
  7. What book did you love while reading but discovered later it wasn’t quality writing? I think a lot of the series I read as a little kid were that way (American Girl, Mandie, The Boxcar Children, and suchlike). It’s not that they were terrible, they were just produced in such volume or to fit such a particular mold that they really just weren’t a full story. It was actually pretty disappointing to get to the point where I realized that.
  8. Do you have any funny stories involving books from your childhood? Please share! I can’t think of anything particularly humorous. I guess most folks around here thought I was an odd child for always having my nose buried in a book, though. Not exactly normal in small-town NC.
  9. What is the tiniest book on your shelf? Well . . . the shortest is The Restaurant of Many Orders by Kenji Miyazawa, but the narrowest is The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. Take your pick.
  10. What is the thickest book on your shelf? I guess technically The Lord of the Rings has the most pages, although The Invention of Hugo Cabret and Azumanga Daioh give it a run for its money just because of how they’re printed.
  11. Do you write as well as read? Do you see yourself in the future as being an author? Blogging here and some occasional technical writing for work is about the limit for me. I’d like to envision myself as an author, but honesty forces me to admit I probably don’t have the talent. Sadness. I’m relying on all you amazing people out there who truly have a skill for writing!
  12. When did you get into reading? My parents read to me when I was just a baby, really. I think I’ve been into reading since before I can remember. 🙂
  13. What is your favorite classic book? That’s a hard one . . . it’s a toss-up between The Lord of the Rings and The Cat in the Hat. 😉
  14. In school what was your best subject Language Arts/English?  So . . . I also don’t really get this question. English and all the related courses (Literature, Speech, etc.) were probably my best subjects generally, although I also did really well in my computer and business classes. Math, not so much.
  15. If you were given a book as a present that you had read before and hated, what would you do? Depends on who gave it to me. If it were someone who wouldn’t ask/notice, I’d politely accept, then sometime later pass it on. If they’d notice or care that I gave it away, I’d probably keep it. How superficial, right?
  16. (Apparently Question 16 was supposed to be here, but now it’s disappeared?) Should we make up our own question here? . . . Or not.
  17. What is a bad habit you always do (besides rambling) while blogging? I tend to not be clear enough in what I mean . . . but I’m scared of being too specific and either boring folks or giving away too much of the story! What to do?
  18. What is your favorite word? At the moment, “abundant,” although that’s likely to change at any time.
  19. Are you a nerd, dork, or dweeb? Or all of the above? Um, I think I’d define myself as a geek and an otaku more than any of these . . . maybe sort of a nerd? Labels are highly over-rated.
  20. Vampires or Fairies? Why? Why not both? I mean, at the moment, fairies would win my vote just because a lot of the vampire stuff that’s been popular recently is junk. But what about Robin McKinley’s Sunshine and Vampire Knight and even the Vladimir Todd books? On the other hand, you’ve got incredible stories like Curse of the Thirteenth Fey and The Earl and the Fairy, plus a whole lot of more classic tales. I vote for a world where vampires and fairies have equal representation, I guess.
  21. Shapeshifters or Angels? Why? Angels, totally. Powerful messengers of God sent to fight the forces of darkness, possessing qualities little known or understood by man? Yes, indeed. Shapeshifters . . . cool and all, but still. (And by the way, are we talking, like Star Trek’s Odo sort of shapeshifters or more like weres? Although my answer’s the same, either way.) Still, a world with both would be even more interesting.
  22. Spirits or Werewolves? Why? Again, more definition, please? I mean, I love a good ghost story (I’m reading one now), so if that’s what’s meant by “spirits,” that would probably be my choice. But, I’ve heard some pretty creepy and amazing stories about weres too. (I think Lish McBride has made awesome use of weres in her books! And Saki’s werewolf short story is utterly awfully horrifying.) Again, as with the above two questions I think having the option of both makes a world that’s more interesting–and why not if it’s a fantasy anyhow?
  23. Zombies or Vampires? Why?  Hey, isn’t it supposed to be Zombies vs. Unicorns? Anyhow, while I have heard some good zombie stories, the idea of rotting flesh and eating brains is totally not appealing. At least most of the vampires I’ve seen keep themselves half tidy.
  24. Love Triangle or Forbidden Love? Honestly, both get old really quickly, but I’M SO SICK OF THE LOVE TRIANGLE! What’s wrong with just writing a cute, sweet story? See Usotsuki Lily–it can be done.
  25. And finally: Full on romance books or action-packed with a few love scenes mixed in? I think I’ve mentioned before, but I really don’t care for romances as a general rule. Really, I’d rather read a kids’ book that’s all fun and adventure and crazy fantasy without even getting into the romance.

And . . . I confess, I’m too lazy to tag anyone specifically today, so: If you’re reading this and it seems interesting, consider yourself tagged. 😀

 

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Authors: John Green & David Levithan

Usually miles separate two complete strangers, both by the name of Will Grayson, but living quite different lives. What are the chances they would ever run into each other? Even more, what are the chances they would both find themselves heavily influences by the same person? To one Will, Tiny Cooper is a life-long best friend, like it or not. To the other, Tiny is his first boyfriend, the bright person who penetrated the darkness of his deep depression. To both Wills, Tiny is an important friend–one who showed them a clearer picture of what love is truly about. And the way they unite to repay some of their debt to Tiny is nearly as spectacular as the autobiographical musical he created.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an intriguing two-voiced story. It’s the first time I’ve read anything of John Green’s, although I’ve enjoyed several stories by David Levithan before. They work well together, crafting a united story with two very distinct characters and writing styles. It works remarkably well–both Will’s write in first person, so the differentiation of styles is helpful. I think the writing styles depict the inner character of the Will’s nicely as well, particularly Levithan’s Will who is depressed and lonely–he writes entirely in lowercase and records conversations as though they were in a play (will: yadda, yadda, yadda. tiny: yadda, yadda. etc.). I think it’s intriguing how Tiny (not a title character at all) is really the mover/shaker character of the whole story–seriously, one of the biggest, gayest, most emotionally honest and effusive characters ever. He’s kind-of larger-than-life, but again, that works with the story; he contrasts with the more timid, dark characters of both Wills. The whole story is like that: silly, painful, absurd, dark, such a contrast of ups and downs that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (and often ended up doing both). And mixed in are those moments of such poignant clarity that I just want to shout “Yes!” out loud. Very interesting. I’d recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson to those who want a good story, but also something more, a good challenge to re-evaluate yourself. Ages 16+.

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Boy Meets Boy

Author: David Levithan

In a lot of ways, Paul has an incredible life: great friends, a loving and supportive family, and a community that is open, accepting, and perhaps even nurturing in its own way. He’s even met this incredible guy Noah who is not only just about perfect but who seems to like Paul back. But life is not all smooth sailing, by any means. Between his friends’ dating dramas, his ex showing up wanting some sort of reconciliation, his friend Tony’s parent troubles, and some devastating misunderstandings with Noah, it seems like Paul’s ordered, happy world is falling apart.

I’m always impressed by David Levithan’s stories–they are amazing in the way they break down stereotypes and barriers to get down to just people, real people with feelings, dreams, relationships that are precious to them. Boy Meets Boy is a great example of this, drawing in a wide array of characters and sticking them together in situations that emphasize both their individuality and their humanity. Levithan’s insights into people never cease to amaze me and challenge me–that’s one of the primary reasons I keep coming back to his books. I absolutely love the characters in this book! There are numerous ones that I really like (as in, I’d like them if I met them in real life), and even the ones who would really annoy me are vivid, tangible, and interesting to read. The plot flows from the characters so naturally that I can’t imagine it going any other way–which is how books should be, in my opinion. My only complaints: 1) Paul’s world is too perfect. But I get it; his world is a dream for what could be. 2) The portrayal of religious people is really harsh here. I know that there are religious people who are exactly that way, and worse–I’ve met them. But there are others who are some of the most compassionate, understanding folks I know. Stereotypes go both ways, you know? Regardless of those complaints, I truly enjoyed Boy Meets Boy, and would definitely recommend it both as a sweet romance and as an important picture of the world as it could be.

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Geektastic

Editors: Holly Black & Cecil Castellucci

Contributing Authors & Illustrators: M. T. Anderson, Holly Black, Libba Bray, Cecil Castellucci, Cassandra Clare, John Green, Hope Larson, David Levithan, Kelly Link, Barry Lyga, Tracy Lynn, Wendy Mass, Garth Nix, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Cynthia Leitich Smith, Greg Leitich Smith, Scott Westerfeld, Lisa Yee, & Sara Zarr

Admit it: you’ve always wanted to know what that super-cute, smart-talking avatar online is actually like in real life–would you actually consider meeting up to see? Or have you ever come back from a convention with a new boyfriend you can’t ever admit to your clan? Had a huge argument about whether a favorite character is actually chaotic good or chaotic neutral? Or maybe you’re the type who finds your truest self in the secret identity you’ve built for LARPing. Hey, maybe you’re the poor cheerleader who’s trying to figure out what all this geeky weirdness is all about. Whatever.

Geektastic. I was drawn by the title, and the pixellated superhero avatar on the spine cinched the deal. And I was absolutely not disappointed by this collection of eccentric short stories that feature, well, the more unusually passionate side of life. Or something. I admit to being something of a geek (well, maybe more than something . . . ), and I’m assuming most of my readers are (or why on earth are you reading my blog?!)–and for a geeky audience, this collection is perfect. Regardless of what sort of geek you are (and let’s face it, there are a million variations), there’s likely something here for you . . . and maybe something to help you understand other varieties of geeks a little better as well. If you are the non-geeky cheerleader . . . you might do better to ask your local population for the crash course, if only because this book is a pretty big plunge all at once. But really, Geektastic is an amazing collection by great authors about some super-fun topics (just do be warned of sex, alcohol, etc.)–definitely recommended!

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The Realm of Possibility

Author: David Levithan

In this incredible collection, David Levithan tells the stories of a number of high-school students at a particular school–each in his own poetic voice. Some of these people are lovers. Some hate each other. Some don’t even realize the others exist. Yet they all influence each other in significant ways and they each have a story to tell.

The Realm of Possibility blew me away and made me collapse in tears. I feel like everything Levithan writes pushes the boundaries of what you can do with a story–and he does it so beautifully and understandingly. It was incredible to hear the voices of these young people, their fears, hopes, obsessions, and to realize that my world is bigger for having read this book. The poetry itself is impressive also. It ranges from song style to completely free verse to various more structured pieces, yet they all speak deeply of the person in whose voice they are written. Certainly, there are aspects of The Realm of Possibility that (like most of Levithan’s work) some would find controversial, yet I must say that this is a beautiful, touching book.

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Every Day

Author: David Levithan

A has never known what it’s like to have a family or a steady place to live. Actually, he’s never known what it’s like to have a consistent body, gender, or location–and even the name “A” is something he gave himself. A exists as a soul alone, going from body to body, changing each night at midnight, with no control over whose body, whose family, whose life he will take over for the day. He’s mostly learned to accept this life, living in the moment and trying to disrupt the life of his host as little as possible, clinging to nothing much for himself, but observing everything. That is, until he met Rhiannon and found his world irreversibly changed in a single day.

What an incredible story! Wow. I found myself completely drawn into Every Day from the first page–actually from the back cover! The concept itself is fascinating–a soul, an individual, with no body, one that exists in the bodies of others, sees their lives, experiences the vast variety of human existence, yet never is able to confide or experience intimacy personally. Levithan takes this concept and blows the doors off the possibilities it holds, providing a deep commentary on a plethora of aspects of humanity that are challenging to deal with. I love the perspective that he provides through the eyes of A. Plus, I just like A–he’s a smart, nice guy–a one-in-a-million guy really. Which makes the struggles he goes through even more poignant. The romance developed between A and Rhiannon is something beautiful also–I love the idea of falling in love with an individual, a soul. The ending is sad in my mind, but in a way that works well with the story (and just proves what a great person A is). I definitely would highly recommend Every Day, although I warn that it’s a challenging read, particularly for those with set thoughts on above mentioned challenging aspects of humanity.

Note: I know I’m referring to A as a guy–because there’s no good way to refer to a genderless individual in English–but A really has no specified gender and appears in both male and female bodies with equal aplomb. It works incredibly well in this story, particularly with the first-person narration.

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