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Elton John read my book!
June 22, 2009 12:05 PM   Subscribe

What happens when Elton John reads your book? As Joel Derfner, author of Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever recounts, you go from crying at lunch with your agent over a slow-selling hardcover edition to a brand-spanking-new paperback edition, complete with a blurb from Elton John.

An unsolicited celebrity endorsement is, it seems, what it takes to save gay literature these days. (Also, the cover art of the hardcover original didn’t help.)
posted by joeclark (20 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
An unsolicited celebrity endorsement is, it seems, what it takes to save gay literature these days.

Well, Amazon's mass delisting probably helped, too. After that whole fiasco, I know many GLBT people who spent extra money on items which had been delisted to show support for those products.

What other unsupported celebrity endorsements have there been for gay literature? I'd be interested to see how they have helped those authors, too.
posted by hippybear at 12:11 PM on June 22, 2009


Apparently it involves a hot pink thong (SFW - they're silhouettes of men).
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on June 22, 2009


Will he sing record the book-on-tape version?
posted by gottabefunky at 12:13 PM on June 22, 2009


The man has a "secret blog"? I don't get it. And no, thank you, sir, I will not be sending you an e-mail to get the password. Your unsecret blog is quite pretentious enough as it is.
posted by blucevalo at 12:18 PM on June 22, 2009


Having been a big fan of The Search for Love in Manhattan a few years back, and then having been eventually overwhelmed by his volubility and limitless neuroses, I can't imagine why he didn't go the honest route and call it "My Quest to Become the Most Self-Absorbed Person Ever."

(Maybe it wasn't a very long quest...)
posted by kittyprecious at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2009


Oh PLEASE shut up.
posted by longsleeves at 12:34 PM on June 22, 2009


Kittyprecious, I assure you that “limitless neuroses” are well covered in the book, and not in a self-aggrandizing or -absorbed way.
posted by joeclark at 1:00 PM on June 22, 2009


-whatever
posted by longsleeves at 1:01 PM on June 22, 2009


Of course, we knew what effect this would have on our gay author. He's not ours in the sense that he's a pet and we let him curl up at our feet at night; that would be silly. He was ours because, either through his books or through his radio work, he was the first gay author we connected to on some personal, meaningful level. Maybe saying he's "our favorite gay author" would be more correct in some way, but it feels less connected; distant. There are other authors who could, conceivably count: Wilde, Burroughs, Maugham. And again, we would say in the same way that it just wasn't the same.

We knew that when David Sedaris read this announcement, were he in Derfner's presence, would smile and say some small pleasantry. And, on the inside, it would probably be eating him alive. "Hurf Derfner, more like", he'd grumble, opening up the case to his typewriter. And then he'd begin typing out another warm and personable essay, tinged with family love and interpersonal anguish. And even if Elton John didn't write about it, didn't endorse it, it would be better.

And that's what matters.
posted by boo_radley at 1:04 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


That book made me laugh out loud more than once, and the chapter on going undercover to an ex-gay ministries thing was surprisingly moving. It was entirely worth the no money at all I paid to check it out of the library, and then some. I'm not sorry it's getting more attention.
posted by not that girl at 1:53 PM on June 22, 2009


An unsolicited celebrity endorsement is, it seems, what it takes to save gay literature these days.

Alison Bechdal's Fun House seems to have done pretty well for itself. But then it's a little more interesting than Swish looks.
posted by rodgerd at 2:59 PM on June 22, 2009


I’ve read them both. I don’t think the forms are comparable – a reported nonfiction book with autobiographical segments vs. dramatized graphic autobiography.

What Derfner says really is true: The book turns out to be much more serious, one could even say heavier, than its title and cover suggest. I actually don’t think the paperback cover is much of an improvement in communicating the subject-matter.
posted by joeclark at 3:10 PM on June 22, 2009


i unsolicitly endorse you all.
posted by krautland at 3:13 PM on June 22, 2009


But it's not about being gay; it's about being human.

Which is why I have no interest in it.
posted by GuyZero at 3:34 PM on June 22, 2009 [2 favorites]


...crying at lunch with your agent over a slow-selling hardcover.

Yup. That is pretty gay right there, yessirree.
posted by rokusan at 3:52 PM on June 22, 2009


“limitless neuroses” are well covered in the book, and not in a self-aggrandizing or -absorbed way.

Hmmm. How does it compare with, say, David Rakoff?
posted by kittyprecious at 3:54 PM on June 22, 2009


Metafilter: limitless neuroses
posted by hippybear at 5:48 PM on June 22, 2009


What happens when Robert Smith reads your book.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:53 PM on June 22, 2009


Having been a big fan of The Search for Love in Manhattan a few years back, and then having been eventually overwhelmed by his volubility and limitless neuroses

Breaking news: person's blog is ALL ABOUT THEM!
posted by crossoverman at 7:31 PM on June 22, 2009


K. Precious, Rakoff engages in something akin to self-deprecation; Derfner engages in self-laceration. More than once while reading Swish, I thought “I didn’t sign up for this.” I almost never think that, so I was kind of disappointed with myself, but I persevered and I certainly found the book solid and original.

The funny thing it isn’t very funny, but I don’t think Rakoff is conventionally “funny” either.
posted by joeclark at 2:56 PM on June 23, 2009


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