on May 15, 2012
I began to cry while reading page 3 on my subway commute home. I very rarely tear up at all, and I absolutely hate crying in public. For the first time I didn't seem to care much. I couldn't stop reading, and with the support of the writers in this book I didn't care what anyone thought of me. I was not alone, but in the good company of incredible people who put this book together.
The notes in The Letter Q are inspirational, funny and above all powerful.
Definitely one to have on the shelf, and worth keeping a backup copy on hand to pass along to any young person you think might need it.
THE LETTER Q is a book of importance socially, especially now that the world is growing into the stage of enlightenment as far as LGBT issues are concerned. After the agony of Mathew Shepard, Larry King etc etc etc many authors are speaking out about the struggles of youth who happen to be gay. In this book editor Sarah Moon has stated in response to the question as to why she felt this book was important, `I'm a teacher, and I have had certain students who've been going through things. And, there are things I've wanted to say to them in a way I never would inside or even outside of the classroom. I was talking to my girlfriend and I said, "I wish I could just write a letter and have that be a book." And she said, "You can't do that, but you could write a book of letters.'
And that is how this anthology of writings by some of our most important and impressive writers of the day came about. In this anthology, sixty-four award-winning authors and illustrators such as Michael Cunningham, Amy Bloom, Jacqueline, Woodson, Terrence McNally, Gregory Maguire, David Levithan, and Armistead Maupin, make imaginative journeys into their pasts, telling their younger selves what they would have liked to know then about their lives as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people. Through stories, in pictures, with bracing honesty, these are words of love, messages of understanding, reasons to hold on for the better future ahead. They will tell you things about your favorite authors that you never knew before. And they will tell you about yourself.
The question was asked "If I knew then what I know now..." If you could write a letter to your younger self, what would it say? In The Letter Q, today's best queer authors offer hard-earned, heartfelt advice about growing up, coming out and coming into their own to the people who need it most: themselves, as kids and teens. 'In these inspiring pages, Christopher Rice warns his younger self to avoid the siren song of the club scene, while Amy Bloom tells herself not to shun one-night stands. Graphic novelists Maurice Vellekoop and Paige Braddock provide pictures as powerful as the words. Michael Cunningham boils it all down to "Worry less. Use what the world has given you." It's not a time machine, but it's the next best thing.
Hopefully this book finds its way into the hands of our youth as well as teachers and parents and maybe, just maybe, as a result we will note a softening of antipathies toward those once considered to be `misbegotten' socially. Grady Harp, June 12
on July 23, 2012
This book is a great read that appeals to gay people of all ages. This book needs to be on the shelves of high school and public libraries everywhere. When I was struggling as a teenager I would have loved to have seen this book and hear how people, just like me, really turned out to be happy, healthy, and successful. This book is very easy to read as the letters are of reasonable length and interspersed are some great comics making the same point.
on March 2, 2015
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon.com. Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule.
This isn't a novel at all. It's a collection of letters by queer authors to their younger selves. The book was produced because every young person identifying as queer has a right to know that their situation of feel lost, alone or misunderstood isn't unique - there's someone out there that can understand.
I enjoyed it because it had so many emanations with my teenage years, and it's always pleasing to read about other success stories.
Another thing is that I often read short story collections to find new authors whose writing style agrees with me. Those are just letters, but the authors hint enough about themselves that I can tentatively pick ones that I'd buy books to try.
I initially picked up this novel because one of my favourite authors, Julie Anne Peters, has a contribution in it. I'd also already encountered Erika Moen from her comic, DAR.
I had fun trying to pick whether the writer was male or female in each case where it wasn't immediately obvious. A weird thing to do when the authors are all queer and any sexuality or gender could be presented. I didn't do this in a judgemental way, just in an interested way.
If you're queer, you're questioning, you just want to understand more about what queer people go through, this could be a good novel for you to read.
on August 17, 2012
I really enjoyed this book as it was extremely uplifting to see a successful adult connecting with their younger self at a moment of desperation, sadness, loneliness and when they are still trying to find out who they are. This for me is a book about hope and whilst the sexuality of the author is a very important trigger, I just engaged with each letter one by one because every teenager has to find their own identity and sexuality. It was a very easy read. I laughed and had an occasional tear.....thanks for a great compilation and a fabulous read!
When I picked up THE LETTER Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves, I was super excited to have another book to add to my QUILTBAG list. I love sharing books that can change someone's life and THE LETTER Q looked very promising. The list of authors on the front (beautifully designed by Chip Kidd) included big names like Armistead Maupin, Gregory Maguire, and Jacqueline Woodson.
What lay inside lived up to the promise of that off-pink, off-blue cover. Each writer's letter is personal, but contains universal advice. Not just about love and perseverance - but telling their younger self to quit smoking and to not hang out in parks at night and to trust their instincts. THE LETTER Q can get repetitive if you read it all at once, but it's just right when you space the letters out and see just how each of these authors made it out of their childhood. And as for the advice, my favorite bit came from Jewelle Gomez: "Maybe you should think about writing vampire stories, they might come back into fashion someday (133, ARC)."
I liked that THE LETTER Q showcased a wide range of voices, allowing for a fuller picture of LGBQ life. Sadly, the trans* voice is lost in this collection. But there are black, Hispanic, and Asian voices, struggling with two kinds of marginalization. There are older voices, including people who weren't able to come out until middle age. There are younger voices that grew up in a more tolerant time. There are children's book authors, young adult authors, and literary fiction authors. There are playwrights, comic artists, and memoir writers.
One of THE LETTER Q's greatest strengths is the way it serves as an introductory text. I've talked to many people about Alison Bechdel's FUN HOME and how it led them to seek out the books she discusses in the text. THE LETTER Q contains writing from dozens of authors. Many who read THE LETTER Q will be inspired to pick up other works by those authors. It's a bit of a who's who of queer lit.
This anthology of letters will appeal to teens struggling with their identity as well as people of any age with an interest in the experiences of queer America. It's a powerful, moving work. Even better, half of the royalties will be donated to the Trevor Project, a resource for QUILTBAG youth contemplating suicide.
on May 18, 2012
As a forty-something who was hoping for an uplifting read, I found this collection unexpectedly depressing. I feel like it was written by the ones who came out on top in life's arms race. Where are the writers whose prince or princess left them after 15 years and find themselves lonely? Or the ones shouldering all the responsibility for dying parents because their straight siblings have more important lives to live? Or the ones who are struggling professionally and financially?
I feel that any smart teenager who reads this book will quickly see through the relentless whitewashing. The least one can do is to be honest. It boggles the mind that everybody's life in this book could really have turned out so great. Hasn't any of these writers ever regretted anything? Or struggled with illness or depression? Or indeed suffered any adversity after high school graduation? Reading this book just makes me feel even more of an outsider.