Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Straight and gay

When I listened to Will Grayson, Will Grayson -- John Green and David Levithan's two-hander (as they say in the theatre -- which is OK to quote in this context) -- I was completely sure of which narrator played which Will Grayson. And, well ... 25 days later, I can't remember. How humiliating! How middle-aged!

Green's Will Grayson is a currently ostracized suburban Chicago high-school junior. He's straight, but has lost his popularity because he signed a letter supporting his very gay, very large, best friend Tiny Cooper. Tiny's seemingly so confident in his gayness that he's out and plays football. This Will aims to get through life with few emotional entanglements, but Tiny's enthusiasms keep him out there despite himself.

Levithan's Will Grayson (who shall now be identified as lower-case will grayson because evidently in the book his sections don't have capital letters ... or punctuation?) lives a few suburbs away. He's gay, but isn't out at school. He's got an online crush named Isaac, though, and when will makes arrangements to meet Isaac at a porn shop in downtown Chicago the two W(w)ills meet. When -- subsequently -- will meets Tiny, he falls hard.

The bulk of the novel revolves around the two W(w)ills' and their reluctant involvement with Tiny's production of his autobiographical musicial, "Tiny Dancer," where he plays himself. One of the true pleasures of the audiobook is that the voice actors take this instruction seriously, and whole musical numbers are sung.

The readers are MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl (heard frequently, but most memorably here and here). I think that Podehl is straight Will and Andrews gay will, but they are very coy during the credits on the recording. Ultimately though, it doesn't matter because both are just terrific. They sound like teenage boys, there's a lot of humor and sadness (even depression) that comes through their reading, and they do a very good job of picking up the character of the other W(w)ill when he speaks in their own narration. Each voices Tiny in a ... shall we say, BIG way, but not swishy. I love the fact that they sing, and I'm even vaguely remembering that the credits included a shout-out to Andrews (forgive me if I'm wrong) for the music. I really enjoyed this.

Up until the end (and that's the book's fault, not the audiobook). The finale (which was indeed the finale of Tiny's musical) just turned the corner into what felt like many minutes of self-esteem-building. Despite this, I think this is my favorite of the three John Green novels I've listened to (find them here and here). I've not listened to a David Levithan book (although I've got one on that every-growing TBLt [to be listened to] list).

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Narrated by MacLeod Andrews and Nick Podehl
Brilliance Audio, 2010. 7:57 (unabridged)

1 comment:

Brenda said...

Loved the audio performance of WG, WG too! And I agree with you about the end as well. Great review.