I had the chance to catch up on a lot of reading while on my recent hiking trip. Some were okay, others made me want to pull my hair out. There was only one, however, that made me laugh, cry, and cheer all at the same time.
Joel Derfner's book Swish: My Quest to Become the Gayest Person Ever is one of the best books I have ever read. Period.
In Swish, Derfner takes his readers along on his quest to become the gayest person ever- something he might just have accomplished. Written in short essay's focusing on different jobs or parts of his life, Derfner easily masters the art of the personal humor essay in a way that rivals authors like David Sedaris and Augusten Burroughs.
Whether he's learning to knit on the subway, going on panty-raids at a GLBT summer camp, using the Internet to meet men (a lot of men), becoming a step instructor, or learning to be a go-go dancer, he reveals himself and his past with humor and incredible insight that will leave you laughing and falling just a little in love with him.
The best part of the book is when he sneaks into an "Ex-Gay" Exodus Conference. He turns the experience into one of the most fascinating, personal, and insightful chapters of the book.
Derfner manages to be witty but not over the top, insightful yet not sappy, and thought-provoking while entertaining. You will find yourself sailing through the book, wanting more stories, and wanting to sit down for drinks with him. All his adventures come from a place we can all relate to- a need to find more, to explore ourselves, push our boundaries, and make connections with others.
I don't gush about books very often, but this is easily the best book I have read in years. Fun, smart, moving, and engaging, it is a collection of experiences we can all relate to, whether we are the gayest person ever or not.