Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Book review: Swish

At the recommendation of Edgy I read Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever.

Joel Derfner's book is a collection of humorous essays about his immersion in "the lifestyle." He's a smart guy and is sometimes very, very funny. You can think of him as a cross between Dan Savage, David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs. If you like any or all of these authors, you'll probably like Derfner.

Derfner was a bookish, studious child who grew up in Charleston, South Carolina. When he was about 12, he started to realize that the might be gay. He confided in a adult gay friend:
I waited and waited and waited to get up the courage to say what I wanted to say and I finally did but I was so scared I couldn't do it in English so I used French. "J'ai peur que je suis gay" I said, failing in my nervousness to use the subjunctive. I'm scared that I'm gay.

His confidant was kind and, after a brief conversation, said "Yes, you're gay." It was one of those conversations that made all the difference.

In other parts of the book, Derfner goes undercover at an ex-gay conference run by Exodus International, joins a gay cheerleading squad and becomes a go-go dancer for a summer. And he knits.

I found the book to be amusing and at times touching and even wise. I don't think it matches the best of Savage, Sedaris or Burroughs, but if you're looking for a quick amusing (and very gay) read, check it out.


Scott said...

And he knits.

If this is a step toward becoming "the gayest person ever" I was on my way 16 years ago, when Sarah taught me how to knit and crochet.

(I crocheted an afghan on my mission--while the other Elders were playing basketball on p-day I sat and crocheted. I'm sure some of them had me figured out long before I ever did.) :)

Edgy said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)

MoHoHawaii said...


You're SOOOOO gay. Crocheting an afghan on your mission! That's hilarious.

I've had my own brushes with extreme gayness. When I was a teenager I wrote a fan letter to Leonard Bernstein ... in French! His assistant (the famous Helen Coates) wrote me a personal letter back, saying among other things, that "Mr. Bernstein compliments you on your excellent French." Ha, ha!

(P.S. I was also Ward Chorister from ages 14 to 18.)


Thanks for the recommendation. I'm going to pass it on.

Scott said...

Wow! I count five "ohs" in that "sooooo". (The more ohs there are the more "sooooo" gay I am, right?) :)

MoHoHawaii said...

A scarf: one O.

Pair of socks: two O's.

Booties: three O's.

Sweater: four O's.

Afghan: five O's.

Cross-stitched sampler with all of the words to "It's Raining Men": six O's.

Just to give some perspective.

Scott said...

Okay. I think I'm going to have to quit at five. I never really got into the cross-stitch. The biggest project I ever did was a bookmark.