Monday, June 21, 2010

The Homes Collection

Jack by A.M. Homes
Weight: 9. 6 oz.
Method of Disposal: Left in a public place

I have decided to challenge my dedication to my personal cause today by leaving behind a book written by one of my favorite authors, A.M. Homes. I made a special effort to own every novel, collection of short stories, and sliver of writing I could find that was written by this woman. The first novel of hers that I read was The End of Alice, which is a novel narrated by a pedophile and the murderer of a child. I was eating broccoli while reading it in the living room of my father’s house, and I remember that I could not eat broccoli for months after finishing the book. The memory of the story seemed interwoven with the food, and it made me sick. That is one of my absolute favorite novels. But this entry is about Jack.
Jack is the story of a teenage boy coming to terms with the fact that his father is gay. It was the first book published by A.M. Homes, and it became a major motion picture. It is not my favorite by the author, but it is still difficult to see it departed from its brethren. I feel like I am missing a part of myself and a huge chunk of the library.
I believe that Jack is a novel that did not come to me at the right time. I read it after savoring several other Homes novels, and I felt it did not compare to them. I think that if it had stood alone I would have appreciated it more. I also “came out” as a queer woman when I was 13 and spent many hours, days, weeks scrounging up all the gay/lesbian literature I could find. I read too many coming out stories, some horrible short fiction, and a lot of traumatic personal narratives. I loved them until I ran out of love and then I grew resentful. Was there nothing I could read that was lesbian-focused, lesbian-directed, but not tacky/trite/terrible? I was bored. I believe that Jack stands as a great story and as a gay story, but I wanted more than that by the time I got my hands on it. I was completely sick of movies, books, and academic journal articles dedicated to gay men. Where were the ladies?! The transgender folk?! I needed more.
Even now, years later, I get on Netflix to rent a gay/lesbian movie and dread what will appear on the screen. I enjoy movies about gay/bisexual men, but I crave something else. I sift through pages of pictures of half-naked men and all sorts of penis innuendo to find a handful of lesbian movies which usually include multiple clich├ęs and flat characters that are often plumbers with “good hands,” drug addicts, and/or dancers of some sort.
Any who, I guess what I am trying to say is this: I love A.M. Homes because she is talented and, yes, somewhat shocking. Jack is wonderful but feels a little too mundane and too much like what I am bombarded with in my everyday life. I think this book should be given to teenagers everywhere. I think that is where it will do its best work. I wish my own book luck on its travels, and I hope it ends up with someone who loves it even more than I did. Goodbye little Jack Jack.

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