May 18, 2010

AWRF10 - Sunday May 16: An hour with David Levithan


The first thing that strikes me about this write-up is that it is awesome. It's by Rachael from Onehunga Community Library.

The first thing that strikes me about David Levithan is that he is totally and completely awesome. My companion and I both spent the whole hour thinking about how well we would all get along as friends. It took some serious restraint not to yell out how awesome he was at the end of the session, but I was too giggly and giddy to get it out. I have never felt this way about an author, and I haven’t even read a single one of his books.

Well, it turns out perhaps I have in years past. Full of surprises, he has been responsible for editing the Babysitters Club books for Scholastic for some years now! The man is an author and an editor as well as writing ‘novelizations based on movies’, including the ones for ‘Ten Things I Hate About You’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle’ (Not that I’ve read that one!)

David (I’m going to call him that because we’re destined to be firm friends) is smart, funny, likes great music and writes books that really just talk about real people and real life. From what he said in his session, it’s actually simply a publishing decision that these books are marketed as teen or young adult fiction because they are definitely as interesting and applicable to adults as they are teens.

He thrilled us all with his iPad from the future, from which he did a great reading from his most recent book Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The section he read highlighted the difference between the miserable Will Grayson (there are two Will Graysons in the book) and a character named Tiny Cooper ("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.") The section ended with a hilariously cringe worthy performance of a number from Tiny’s autobiographical musical, ‘Tiny Dancer’.

As well as the fun, he reflected on some big topics- I was particularly taken with his take on romantic love vs. non-romantic love and the different weights society puts on each of these. David clearly places a great importance on the magic that is non-romantic love between two closest friends, and this is illustrated in his books.  I imagine it is quite hard to paint the portrait of deep love between two friends, but I already felt and understood it, even from his short reading.

I only attended a few Readers and Writers Festival sessions this time around, but several attendees have commented that in their sessions there was too much focus on the sexuality of the authors. This was also the case with some of the questions from the audience in David’s session. It was surprising that people chose to ask about how hard it is to be gay, rather than focussing on the amazing way that David collaborates with people in his work or how his love of music has influenced his writing. However, David handled these questions with honesty and wit and his easy use of language got us back on track to his books, his characters and their world. Which is exactly where I wanted to be.
When the lights came up, my friend and I were both smiling. The people around us were all smiling. David (my new buddy) was smiling. The next day, back at work, and I am still smiling. In 60 minutes, he managed to take someone who once half saw a movie based on a book he wrote, and create a lifelong fan with piles of holds on all his books. Pretty amazing really.

Ditulis Oleh : tosca // 02:30
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