Synopses & Reviews
Joel Derfner is gayer than you.
Dont feel too bad about it, though, because he has made being gayer than you his lifes work. At summer day camp, when he was six, Derfner tried to sign up for needlepoint and flower arranging, but the camp counselors wouldnt let him, because, they said, those activities were for girls only. Derfner, just to be contrary, embarked that very day on a solemn and sacred quest: to become the gayest person ever. Along the way he has become a fierce knitter, an even fiercer musical theater composer, and so totally the fiercest step aerobics instructor (just ask him—hell tell you himself).
In Swish, Derfner takes his readers on a flamboyant adventure along the glitter-strewn road from fabulous to divine. Whether hes confronting the demons of his past at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to “meet” men—many, many men—or plunging headfirst (and nearly naked) into the shady world of go-go dancing, he reveals himself with every gayer-than-thou flourish to be not just a stylish explorer but also a fearless one. So fearless, in fact, that when he sneaks into a conference for people who want to cure themselves of their homosexuality, he turns the experience into one of the most fascinating, deeply moving chapters of the book. Derfner, like King Arthur, Christopher Columbus, and Indiana Jones—but with a better haircut and a much deeper commitment to fad diets—is a hero destined for legend.
Written with wicked humor and keen insight, Swish is at once a hilarious look at contemporary ideas about gay culture and a poignant exploration of identity that will speak to all readers—gay, straight, and in between.
"Derfner (Gay Haiku) recounts his forays into indignity, knitting and unlikely friendships in this engaging if uneven memoir. Derfner's affectionate portraits of the men he met at a Christian homosexual conversion retreat and his account of his dueling desires to accept them or shepherd them toward self-acceptance provide welcome gravity in a book that flirts with more substantive issues of intimacy, identity and masculinity but never fully engages them. The book's conversational tone suffers from a heavy reliance on hyperbole, and the author's carefully cultivated campy persona feels tiresomely derivative and forced. And while Derfner's foibles losing his aerial cheerleading position to more capable females, making only $5 in his first night as a go-do dancer are amusing, his kiss-and-tell accounts of hookups and bad sex rarely rise above their own prurience. The most forceful ruminations arise gracefully from unlikely sources: memories of his musical theater education digress into a discussion encompassing concentration camp artwork, ancient Hebrew concepts of creation and the Columbia space shuttle explosion. Derfner's essays on his struggle to form meaningful relationships benefit more from his emotional intelligence than his wit." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Written with wicked humor and keen insight, "Swish" is at once a hilarious look at contemporary ideas about gay culture and a poignant exploration of identity that will speak to all readers--gay, straight, and in between.
About the Author
JOEL DERFNER graduated from Harvard with a degree in linguistics. His work for the musical theater has been produced in London, New York, and various cities in between. He lives in New York City.