Monday, March 21, 2011

Someday this Pain Will Be Useful to You

by Peter Cameron

Once upon a time I wrote a short story. It started from an idea that didn't include an ending, and I stalled out after a few weeks of working on it. Seven years later, I had a sudden insight about how to end the story, and I finally wrote the ending. Several people to whom I showed it said I should keep going, that they wanted to know what happens to the character next. I didn't think I could, and I never have — in part because it took me so long to find the ending, but also because the story is about emotional paralysis, so the tension and impetus is lost (and the story ends) when the character finally breaks his paralysis (or so I intended).

Point is, I never understood until now how frustrating it can be to read a book whose protagonist is emotionally paralyzed. I can't recall reading any other gay teen novels in which the character isn't either traumatized by being gay and coming out or so totally okay and confident that other people can't help but accept him. This book's anti(?)-hero is disengaged and distant from everyone, alienated even from himself. Sort of reminds me of me at that age.

Although it was frustrating in many ways, I ultimately liked this book. It's easy to see, however, the reasons it won't appeal to many readers. Being a young adult book, it's pretty short, so there's that at least.

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