30 May 2009

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner


I had never before seen somebody I admired understand what was expected of him, choose to act otherwise, and be happier for it. For the first time in my life I realized that it was possible to reinvent oneself.

A few weeks ago, I was flipping through some old issues of Publisher's Weekly in a desultory fashion, vaguely hoping something fantastic would jump up and say "read me, woman!" when Swish caught my eye. This essay collection did not get a good review in PW, but the book's title and the review's reference to knitting were enough to have me reaching for an inter-library loan slip. And a good thing, too. Swish turned out to be just the right mix of funny and introspective -- exactly what I needed in my continued recovery from Bad Novel Brain Fog.

Joel Derfner has been celebrating his gayness since he was six years old at summer day camp, and hasn’t stopped since. On the way to becoming The Gayest Person Ever, he has been an aerobics instructor, musical theater composer, go-go dancer, and a member of the gay cheerleading squad. He also knits fabulously. In his essay collection, Swish, he covers everything from his relationship with his mother to "transformational ministry" (ex-gay movement) in a way which is both extremely funny and brutally honest. I recommend this book to everyone -- especially that bits about knitting and the essay on Exodus's transformational ministry.

Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever by Joel Derfner (Broadway Books, 2008)