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Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
will grayson, meet will grayson
One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two strangers cross paths. Two teens with the same name, running in two very different circles, suddenly find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, culminating in heroic turns-of-heart and the most epic musical ever to grace the high school stage.
See that 3 stars? It’s a really high 3 stars. Like, of the .5 variety. Maybe even .75 variety. But the reason I can’t surrender to that next integer is in the title. For a book named Will Grayson, Will Grayson, it seemed a lot more like it should’ve been named Will Grayson, Tiny Cooper, Will Grayson. Because these boys seriously revolve around fuckin Tiny Cooper. Perhaps I was misguided in thinking I should expect more Will Grayson out of the thing. I dunno! And I certainly didn’t enjoy the unanticipated surprise.
I absolutely cannot stand characters like Tiny Cooper. He’s unlikable in the way that repulses me because I don’t give a fuck if he’s a fictional character or that he’s equally wronged by the Graysons on separate account; it doesn’t give him an excuse to be such an un-trustworthy individual. He stomps all over the original Will Grayson (“original” as in “the one who was in his life first”) in order to stomp all over the other Will Grayson (“other” as in “the one who was in his life later”). My biggest issue with him is that, when the original Will Grayson literally runs to him in order to make amends (much to my half-hearted dismay), he says he’s not sorry about any of it, no regrets for trash-talking and ditching and abusing someone who’s supposed to be his best friend, no nothing! He even goes so far as to say, in a way, that he [the original Will Grayson] kinda deserved it (which, to anyone who read this thing, has to feel the complete opposite). Douchebag! It doesn’t help that every time he came up, I kept picturing that guy who was too gay to function from Mean Girls.
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.
When he did things like develop into the only male love interest in the whole novel, I comforted myself with the thought that the guy I always imagined him as also played in I Spit on Your Grave and ended up like this.
So you can imagine my dismay when, if the text ever strayed from Tiny in the original Will Grayson’s chapter, it would dive right back to him in the other Will Grayson’s chapter. And vise versa.
This book isn’t even about Tiny Cooper, even though he’s not the narrator, in the cool way that The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald) is narrated by Nick Carraway but really about Jay Gatsby or Fight Club (Chuck Palahniuk) is narrated by “Jack” (or “Joe”) but really about Tyler Durden (…technically). Nope! It’s just plain ol’ annoying how he’s always fuckin there between the two Graysons.
I think what makes me most angry about that fact is that, when the original Will Grayson meets other Will Grayson for the first time, Original just takes one look at how inward and down Other is and just… dumps him in Tiny’s lap to pursue Jane (who ditched him right alongside Tiny just a few hours before–I hated her for a long time, too). I mean, gag me, crucify me, whatever, but I was looking forward to the friendship that would evolve between Will Grayson and, well, Will fuckin Grayson. They barely even spoke to each other for the entire book!
Maybe it’s my fault for expecting something.
But then on a more technical level, I was confused at first as to whose Grayson was whose creation between Levithan and Green. I’ve never read a novel of Green’s before (they sound annoying and whiny, but I’m tempted to just shelf them all under “fuck it why not” and give it a go), but I’d recently read Boy Meets Boy by Levithan, and, in my head, Tiny Cooper and Will Grayson in that first chapter were just carbon copies of Infinite Darlene (took me like 5 minutes to remember his/her name) and Paul (his, too). Those two agitated the daylights out of me, so I didn’t really enjoy my first impression of Will Grayson, Will Grayson. However, I was under the impression that they were Levithan’s, so I kinda just soldiered on in a resigned way, thinking, “God this is corny. Well, it is Levithan.” Then we got to what I thought was Green’s Will Grayson in chapter two, and this kid was deathly assholeish, realistic in a stiff way, entirely too depressed for words, but whole and damaged in a real way. I appreciated his character and sympathized with his situation (even if he was a turd toward his single mother at first).
As soon as Tiny came into the picture, my opinions of the Graysons reversed.
It made sense (and confused me all at once) after I read the Green/Levithan conversation included at the end of the book and realized the Grayson I thought was Green’s was really Levithan’s and the Grayson I thought was Levithan’s had been Green’s.
I guess I should’ve known because the one I thought was Levithan’s (“original Will Grayson”) wouldn’t be his because that one was straight. I did wonder by Green would write for a gay Grayson, but I thought they’d maybe switched typical characters or something. I don’t know! I was so convinced that I overlooked the ridiculousness of that scenario, I guess.
Anyway, I can pretty safely say it was fun overall. After I got past all the shit that irritated the bug-nuts out of me (which was a lot), I kind of just said, “Fuck it, may as well finish.” It helped that I could skim all the musical bullshit and most of the scenes with Tiny
being an unforgivable douchebag. I mean, there were some parts at which I laughed out loud like a complete loon in front of a roomful of family. So that has to count for something, right? And the writing wasn’t horrendous or anything. And the story was compelling… I guess. I mean, I did finish it in, like, 2 days. But then again, I’ve finished most of the books I’ve read while on vacation within about the same timeframe, so maybe the “compelling story” line was bullshit.
Plus, it just plain annoyed me that the other Will Grayson explicitly stated in his first chapter that he hated the term “good-bye” (like, sentient, thought-out hatred) and then used it over and over and over again from that point onward. Like, dude, if you’re gonna take the time out of your narration to mention you hate something and take the time out of my reading experience to acknowledge you hate something, then at least fuckin mean it. I mean… really.
This was way less of a review than a rant, and I included that one nasty-ass picture, so now I’ll overload on neat quotes, which is in itself a testament to the fact that I’ve bitched about my complaints in a rather disproportionate manner. Nevertheless, they dominated my thoughts there at the end (even that–the end–is all about Tiny!), so, nyeh.
I know the approximate location of her locker. It is approximately across from the hallway mural in which a poorly painted version of our school mascot, Willie the Wildkit, says, in a speech bubble, “Wildkits Respect EVERYONE,” which is hilarious on at least fourteen different levels, the fourteenth being that there is no such thing as a wildkit. Willie the Wildkit looks approximately like a mountain lion, though, and while I am admittedly not an expert in zoology, I’m reasonably sure that mountain lions do not, in fact, respect everyone.
[During a conversation original Will Grayson is having with his father.]
He laughs. “You’re our yacht, bud. All that money that would have gone into a yacht, all that time we would have spent traveling the world? instead, we got you. It turns out that the yacht is a boat. But you–you can’t be bought on credit, and you aren’t reducible.” He turns his face back toward the TV and after a moment says, “I’m so proud of you that it makes me proud of me. I hope you know that.”
“Being in a relationship, that’s something you choose. Being friends, it’s just something you are.”
gideon: just breathe.
and i wonder how he knows to say that.