Bil Browning

CONTEST: Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Filed By Bil Browning | May 14, 2010 7:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Contests
Tags: David Levithan, gay literature, John Green, new teen book, Will Grayson

This week's contest is a copy of the new teen book, Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan courtesy of Bilerico Project and publisher Penguin USA. The two authors accomplished something most never get from me: I actually read the book!

Will_Grayson_Will_Grayson.jpgWill Grayson, Will Grayson isn't the typical book I'd pick up and read for fun. It's aimed at teenagers (it says it's for ages 14 and up), but it includes quite a bit of cursing and adult themes like masturbation, fake IDs and underage drinking, and porno stores.

The book follows two different boys named Will Grayson and their unexpected meeting. One is gay; the other is straight. As their lives become intertwined around central character Tiny Cooper, both find love in that awkward teenage way. The climax - "history's most fabulous high school musical" - is both touching and funny in that way that teen stories often are.

I've blogged before that the first LGBT-positive book I read was when I was 18. (Patricia Nell Warren's award winning novel, The Front Runner.) There were no Will Grayson-like books when I was a teen. While the novel trends to much to teenage angst for my adult tastes, if I was younger this book would have been one of my favorites.

Check out after the jump for your chance to win one of three copies to give to a teenage queer (or straight ally!) in your life. You won't be sorry you did.

Here's how to win:

  1. Post a comment below and tell us your favorite book from childhood.
  2. Bilerico contributors aren't eligible to win.
  3. Contest runs from now until Midnight Eastern, Friday May 14th. Any entries posted after that will not be counted.
  4. 3 random comments will be picked from the eligible comments below, and each winner will be sent one of three copies of Will Grayson, Will Grayson.
  5. Be sure to use a valid e-mail address when entering. Any prizes unclaimed by May 21st will be given to another entrant.

Good luck!

Here's a short excerpt from the book courtesy of Penguin:

When I was little, my dad used to tell me, "Will, you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friend's nose." This seemed like a reasonably astute observation to me when I was eight, but it turns out to be incorrect on a few levels. To begin with, you cannot possibly pick your friends, or else I never would have ended up with Tiny Cooper.

Tiny Cooper is not the world's gayest person, and he is not the world's largest person, but I believe he may be the world's largest person who is really, really gay, and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large. Tiny has been my best friend since fifth grade, except for all last semester, when he was busy discovering the sheer scope of his own gayness, and I was busy having an actual honest-to-God Group of Friends for the first time in my life, who ended up Never Talking to Me Again due to two slight transgressions:

1. After some school-board member got all upset about gays in the locker room, I defended Tiny Cooper's right to be both gigantic (and, therefore, the best member of our shitty football team's offensive line) and gay in a letter to the school newspaper that I, stupidly, signed.

2. This guy in the Group of Friends named Clint was talking about the letter at lunch, and in the process of talking about it, he called me a bitchsquealer, and I didn't know what a bitchsquealer was, so I was like, "What do you mean?" And then he called me a bitchsquealer again, at which point I told Clint to fuck off and then took my tray and left.

Which I guess means that technically I left the Group of Friends, although it felt the other way around. Honestly, none of them ever seemed to like me, but they were around, which isn't nothing. And now they aren't around, leaving me utterly bereft of social peers.

Unless you count Tiny, that is. Which I suppose I must.

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My favourite childhood book was The Phantom Tollbooth.

As a child my favorite was "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs". Shortly thereafter I fell in love with fantasy novels staring with Lloyd Alexander's "The Black Cauldron". Had there been more queer characters in the books I was reading as a child it might not've taken me so long to find myself. :) I'm always glad to hear about new YA lit that features queer characters.


The first serious gay book I read was Sticks and Stones by (I think) Lynn Hall. It was probably the very first foray into writing about gay people for a teen audience, which was pretty shocking for the late 60s when it was published.

People Who Know Better have derided it as tawdry and whiney, but I re-read it recently and discovered -- after many years absence -- that it's actually not that bad. Yes, the main character is fighting tooth and nail to accept who and what he is. But given the locale in which the book is set, that's not a surprising reaction. Yes, the obvious object of what should be his affections is a little too low-key, but given that he's just been thrown out of the service, I probably would be too. And it ends on a pleasantly hopeful note for the two of them... which again is pretty surprising considering the times.

But my favourite book from childhood (and still is, actually) is David and the Phoenix, by Edward Ormondroyd. It was the first *big* book I read, and I still dearly love it. Coles Notes version of the story: a small boy makes the acquaintance of a 499-year-old phoenix, who gives him a classic education in gryphons, satyrs, witches, and wee folk. Wonderfully written, it's one of those books that I intend to illustrate before I kick off.

Even though LotR isn't my favorite series by any means, it was the reason I fell in love with fantasy novels.

As far as realizing a sexual identity, I found my mother's copy of Men in Love by Nancy Friday and read through all the fantasies, skipping her analysis. I still have that book on my shelf.

I have many favourite books from childhood, because my father encouraged me to read from a very young age. When I was very young (ages 5-8) my favourite book was in a set of childrens encyclopedias. The set had a book of short stories in it that I read over and over again. As I got older, my tastes began leaning to supernatural and sci-fi. At age 12 I devoured books about Edgar Cayce, and loved Dune and A Clockwork Orange. I find it only natural that as I have aged, my reading tastes have gotten younger, like Harry Potter, and The Mortal Instruments Series.

I think that my favorite book growing up was the Hobbit. I'm not a giant LotR fan anymore, but I really adored that book as a kid.

The Telltale Heart and other collected short stories by Edgar Allen Poe

dharmapupil | May 13, 2010 2:54 AM

The first book that had me thinking about myself was Stranger In A Strange Land, 'cause that's what being queer in the 60s felt like, I guess. Although Heinlein never, to my knowledge, broached a gay topic, it helped me sort myself in my pre- and early teens.
(Btw, if I were to win this book I would like to give it to my local County Library.)

Nicole Ware | May 13, 2010 9:45 AM

Oh Gosh, I loved A Wrinkle in Time when I was little, but lots of other books as well, Bernstein Bears when I was really young, and a bunch of other things.

twinkie1cat | May 13, 2010 1:20 PM

My favorite book was "The Courage of Dr. Lister". It was a biography of Dr. Joseph Lister, the father of antiseptic surgery. Dr. Lister bore the disdain of his medical colleagues and stood up for what he knew to be right. That is, in his case, if you want your patients to live and get well, you keep their surgery as clean as possible.

Message for gay people and allies? Stand up for what is right in spite of the what is considered common knowledge and you just might change the world.

Richard L | May 14, 2010 5:54 PM

I think my favorite was Watership Down. On the surface, just about rabbits. But underneath all the fluff....