Category Archives: Maurice Sendak

Javin’s Top 5 GLBTQ Books

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Javin has been a member of the book club for some time. As someone whose taste is quite different from the rest of the members’, we haven’t read many of his recommendations. Hence, this is an opportunity for him to tell us about his favorite books.

Javin’s Top Five GLBTQ Books

1. Harry Potter Series

I simply just love this series. Although it is not famous for its LGBT theme, I think it handles the LGBT issues very well. While many feel that the book is homophobic as the Dumbledore’s story line appears tragic, I think it displays that love is Dumbledore’s Achilles’ heels and that he has allowed his love to blind him. However, my favourite LGBT character is not Dumbledore but the other gay guy – Sirius Black. Seriously, this guy sacrifices so much for his love towards his best friend (?) James and eventually, projects this love towards Harry. While it is somewhat creepy, making him a pedophile, it is still love.

Hunger Games2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Yup, I know some of you may think that this is not a LGBT book and wonder why this is on the list. The movies will try to pin themselves as the next twilight but the readers of this books will know that Katniss Everdeen is a raging lesbian, trying to survive in an oppressive post-apocalytic universe by associating with and marrying out of convenient to Peeta. Katniss is independent, manipulative and resourceful like any butch you’d find. And in the book, you have a sense that she is neither in love with Peeta nor Gale. Only reason for her union with Peeta is for publicity, not love. The only time you sense that she loves someone is her sister, probably her projection of what her love could be, to be with another woman and willing to do all to sacrifice for this person.

deadlocked3. The South Vampire Mysteries (aka True Blood Series)

Seriously guys, it is no surprise to be in love with a Vampire series for any gay man. Firstly, vampires suck. Secondly, they are eternally youthful, beautiful, sexually aggressive and relentless, strong and fair…etc (everything that makes every gay man drools). Last but not least, they die on a stick. Of course, the sun will burn them too but that is more for the beauty regime than anything. Ok I digress. However, anyone who has read this book will know that all vampires are bisexual. Of course, the books are popular because it is a fun read and a mixture of genre, from murder mystery to vampires folklore to comedy. What’s amazing about this book is that it sometimes contains 2 finales in a single title, making it a real page turner. Why are we not reading this book?

4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Just for the fact that we had so much fun discussing it and what it really means, makes this a real trick for me. [For our book club notes on the book, click here.]

girldragon5. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The fact that I recommended this book for the book club discussion does mean I really like it. It may be a disappointment to some that I see reading books as means of escapism/ entertainment and not really to draw some deep thoughts on the author’s ideology or philosophy. This book is fun, a real page turner and dark with a serious social justice theme behind a seemingly Hollywood story telling structure. Why must story telling be boring even if the theme is a serious one? I like the book for the fact that the author has the reader in mind when writing and it is not an exercise to express their narcissism. [For our discussion on the book, click here.]

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Filed under Charlaine Harris, J. K. Rowling, Maurice Sendak, Stieg Larsson, Suzanne Collins, Top 5

31st Discussion: Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are and Dave Egger’s The Wild Things (15 Mar)

Moderator: Isaac
Minutes and Notes: Helmi
Attendees: Timmy, Alex, Alexius, Joshua, Gavin, Javin, Aaron.

We discussed Maurice Sendak’s children’s classic Where The Wild Things Are, and Eggers’ novel adaptation of it titled The Wild Things. Sendak is gay but made an official admission of his orientation in 2008. He’s lived with psychoanalyst Eugene Glynn for 50 years.

On the whole, the book club felt that Eggers, while a good writer of prose, did not capture the vivid and magical world conjured by Sendak’s short children’s book. Some members, such as Joshua and Gavin, felt the fleshing out of the characters and the “heavy-handed” commentary on war and violence killed the seemingly innocent charm of the original. However, Eggers’ biggest crime, some say, is his failure to capture the gay subtext inherent in the original.

Timmy found Sendak’s version dark and evocative, allow your imagination to run wild and fill in the gaps. He did not enjoy Egger’s detailed “deconstruction” of Sendak’s original. Like many others, he feels Eggers’ verbose writing style detracts rather than adds to Sendak’s much-beloved characters. When fleshed out, Max appears pesky and the monsters become unloveable. Javin says the events on the island are rendered meandering and “plotless” in Egger’s hands. Helmi calls them a “patchwork of incidents that don’t build on each other for a satisfying climax”.

Aaron spent much time explaining why Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are is really a gay fable clothed in a child’s tale. Max’s foray into the island represents a gay man’s jaunt in Central Park where staring incidents and “wild rumpuses” take place. Alex is convinced that Max has entered a gay sauna – what with all the dark spaces and furry plus-sized monsters (bears) who want to “eat you up”. The wolf suit that Max dons, says Aaron, is a specific reference to the term “wolf”, which in the gay lingo of the 1960s, stands for unbridled sexuality.

Ultimately though, Aaron felt the books’ ending is a cop-out because it propagates the idea that the “gay life”, as symbolised by the wild forests, is not as safe, comfortable and desirable as a conventional home. Joshua took a different view – the idea that you can return home suggests you can be gay and still be part of conventional family arrangement. Alex/Alexis pointed out that a subversive power of any work lies in its ability to plant non-conventional ideas within a conventional narrative.

When Aaron began discussing Sendak’s style, the run-on sentences and the lack of punctuation, the discussion took a turn for the campy as Alex, Alexis and Joshua speculate (jokingly or not) that the circularity of the prose reflects Max being neither top nor bottom – but a flex!

 

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Filed under Children's Literature, Dave Eggers, Family, Love, Maurice Sendak, Queer, USA, Young Adult