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Bookseller and bookselling are already words we know and recognize. Bookseller is the person who rings you up at a bookstore. Bookselling is what they’re doing when they take your money and hand you a book.
Booksellering is what anyone who’s crazy obsessed with books does. It’s likely that your local bookseller practices booksellering, but not a given. Or at least, it’s what separates the booksellers making wages from the really, really good booksellers, who make indie bookstores special and important.
Booksellering is what you do when you see a stranger reading a book you love, and you stop them. In public. To talk about feelings. And to make sure that anyone standing near that conversation pick up that book as well, even though they’re giving their friends that sidelong eye contact that confirms that they’re talking with a crazy person, and you can see them doing it, but you’re like WHATEVER I DON’T CARE THAT BOOK IS AMAZING LET’S TALK ABOUT ALL THE FEELS.
Booksellering is proselytizing for books like it’s a religion, minus the dietary restrictions. It’s not just recommending. It’s standing up in front of as many people as you can find and insisting that you be heard. Because some books are just that good.
Right now, I am booksellering you a book that’s coming out in late August:
Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan.*
I am not recommending you read this book. I am demanding it.
Narrated collectively from the perspective of the previous generation of gay men, Two Boys Kissing tells the stories of several different kids, all centering elliptically around two who are trying to break the Guiness Book of World Records record for longest kiss.
Levithan’s minimalist prose matches perfectly with the complex conceit of a first person plural narrator. The high level of imaginative and intuitive empathy that is apparent in all of his works is especially strong here—as not only are his protagonists fully realized, but so are the voices of the collective narration, whose experiences are as varied as the characters on the page.
Having read so many of his other titles, I could not help but feel like this was the culmination of many of the ideas he’s worked with in other books, before—but here, they are fully manifest, in one, slim and elegant novel.
It is the best book I have read this year. And you can bet that I’ve read a lot of books, and excellent ones at that. If you do not read it, I will cry on you
--Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director
*If by some mistake you don’t know David, or his work, a quick primer: David is the Editorial Director at Scholastic, responsible for editing such books as The Scorpio Races, and some series called the Hunger Games. But he’s also a fabulous author in his own right, with books like Boy Meets Boy, Every Day and Marley’s Ghost under his belt. He’s also co-written numerous books, including Invisibility with Andrea Cremer and Will Grayson Will Grayson with some dude named John Green.
Local Blogger and NYMBC bestie RAVENOUS READER interviewed David and Andrea when they came to visit us last month. You can check out her blog here (because it is the awesome) and follow her on the Twitter here.
RR: I believe that Invisibility is a wonderful collaboration between two of my favorite authors. How did the genesis for this project come about?
AC: It happened in the Summer of 2010, the year that NIGHTSHADE was coming out and penguin sent me out on a bunch of pre-publication tours. One of the things they did was put me on a panel at the American Library Association annual meeting with two seasoned authors, David Levithan and John Green. Both of which happened to be writing icons for me. So, I show up and all of a sudden was thrust into this world of OMG!! I can't believe that I am on a panel with them.
DL: So, we all hit it off and we spent about an hour together and maybe another half hour the next morning and that would have been that, except that the universe pointed out to me that Andrea had blogged that she had a great time and very jokingly said "David Levithan, when are you going to write a book with me?"
DL: So, I thought "you know what? I've known her for an hour and a half and I've not read a single word that she has written, but we had fun so this would be cool. Also she sorta had taunted me for not having written anything paranormal. So, I thought "What paranormal would be interesting to me?" and Invisibility had always been interesting to me both for it's metaphorical possibilities as well as just being invisible. So, I wrote a chapter and out of the blue I found her email address on her website and sent it to her. Alright the gauntlet was thrown. Bring it on.
AC: I could not believe that all of a sudden there was this email from David Levithan in my inbox saying you wanted to write a book together, here is a chapter and you can send one back. Yeah, that was the beginning and now we have the book. It was awesome, crazy and wonderful
RR: How was it decided on who would write each character's POV (Stephen and Elizabeth)
DL: I find that collaborations always work best if you have your own character in your own chapters so it became apparent early on that I would write Stephen and Andrea would write Elizabeth. I will say what surprised and impressed us the most is that it was pretty seemless when there was dialogue. When there was Elizabeth dialogue in my chapters it sounded like Andrea was writing it and when Andrea was writing Stephen's dialogue it sounded like I was writing it. We were able to inhabit the characters.
AC: It was nice, like we both able to understand and really capture the voices of each other's characters and it wasn't a jarring switch from chapter to chapter.
RR: How is it different from working on a duo project to working solo? Do you enjoy it more or less?
AC: I feel that it is about the same, there is a difference and it is a really wonderful way to write. When I am writing on my own I enjoy getting lost in the world. This (Invisibility) went a lot more like an adventure. I would get a chapter from David and it would be â€œwhere am I going?â€ and have an end of a chapter and know that I would have to pick it up the story and run ahead with it and throw the next chapter back at him. I never knew what was coming and it was very exciting. I really enjoyed it. It almost felt like I was writing to David and that had a really special quality about it for it felt like I was getting to know him better.
DL: I would say that I think it is more fun to write with somebody else. Certainly, it is meaningful to write alone but I like writing with somebody else.
RR: Invisibility has a little bit of everything for readers. It has great contemporary issues along with a wicked paranormal edge and a sweet romance. What are your favorite parts in Invisibility?
DL: Itâ€™s so funny because it doesnâ€™t feel separate to me and I think the way we did it fits really well and you canâ€™t pick it apart as easily. What is interesting to me is that I do think the book shifts halfway through which has never happened to me before, but I thought that was interesting and it kept it interesting for us. I obviously felt more comfortable with the romantic character elements because I never written paranormal or fantasy before so I relied upon upon my co-author expertise to say â€œMAGIC System!â€ and â€œWhat is a magic System?â€
AC: When you picked it up you did awesome because there were thingsâ€¦..well, I donâ€™t want to spoil it for anyone. There were a couple times when I got to scenes that involved magical stuff and David had put something out there and I was like â€œYES! YES! YES!â€ . This is amazing. So, I agree there is not one part that I can pick out among all the other things that I love. I felt that in this story we were able to bring together elements of different genres to a really well woven narrative. That is was something that I think it functions differently than most. I like that it is different.
RR: Do you plan on writing more novels together?
DL: I am sure we will
RR: What is on your nightstand now and what would you recommend to readers?
DL: It's rude of course because everything I have brought with me is an Advanced Readers copy. I cannot express how much I love Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown right now. It is due out in September and it is so so fantastic. So, so. yeah I am not finished yet but that is what is on my nightstand right now.
AC: And I also just finished and Advanced Readers Copy of a book coming out in October it's called Inhuman by Cat Falls and it is AWESOME! I started reading it thinking I was gonna sleep but I could not put it down and I ended up staying up late into the evening reading it.
RR: On behalf of myself and NYMBC thank you, for this opportunity. It is not every day that someone gets to meet their author idols. I hope you have a great event and please come back again soon.
DL: Thank you!
AC: Thank you!
It's easy to dismiss this book because on the surface the structure and execution are quite frankly whimsical: a gay high school student never needs to come out to his friends because he lives in the sort of town where his homosexuality was diagnosed to little fanfare in elementary school. In fact, the LGBTQ experience here is more the rule and everyone else the exception. But like with most Young Adult novels, "Boy Meets Boy" can't be dismissed just because it seems naïve at first glance. In fact, the world portrayed here isn't the world as it "should be" per se -- David Levithan is only stating a plain truth: that we all want to love, and be in love, and neither act is the domain of a singular orientation.
Reviewed by Joe of Books Inc. Opera Plaza