In this week’s Savage Love, a reader asked about Billy Lucas, a high school freshman who committed suicide this month after being seriously bullied by his classmates, who harassed him because they believed he was gay:
I just read about a gay teenager in Indiana—Billy Lucas—who killed himself after being taunted by his classmates. Now his Facebook memorial page is being defaced by people posting homophobic comments. It’s just heartbreaking and sickening. What the hell can we do?
Colleague SK just pointed me to “Ask The Paris Review,” a weekly column in, you guessed it, The Paris Review (well, in its blog), that helps people find the most perfect books for any occasion–from art books about Manhattan to “good, weird” literature to win over 13-year-old non-readers.
The column is penned by Lorin Stein, who took over as editor of The Paris Review this spring.
Some immediate reactions:
- I like! Fun to read, interesting recommendations. And (perhaps most importantly) even though it’s basically a book recommender, this column maintains the desirable mix of angst, desperation, and hilarity in its letters that–come on, now–are really the reason we read advice columns at all.
- It’s an interesting medium through which to promote new books, and also revive interest in old books, based on their suitability for a certain need
- I enjoy the idea of recommending literature, rather than, um, self-help books, as a way to help people think through/work through their problems. You don’t always need a pop guru telling you what to do, you just need to get your head in the right place.
- One of the few-ish advice columns written by a man. The other most famous ones have got to be Randy Cohen (The Ethicist), and Dan Savage (Savage Love). There are others, but few are high profile, and most are specialized, as this one is. Nice to have another voice, though.
- This reminds me that I got a book like this as a gift one time. “The girls’ guide to the best book for every situation,” or some such thing–it was pink and surely heavily emphasized Jane Austen. I liked the concept, but didn’t really use it in practice. It’s somewhere in my parents’ house now. I prefer this column for its broader audience, as well as its more dynamic nature. My book will never be able to recommend a book published after it was–that’s too bad.
At first glance, anyway, “Ask The Paris Review” is entertaining, helpful, and a refreshing change of pace–I’m adding it to my links.
After a couple of weeks of lots of holiday horror stories and “shocking” breaches of Christmas etiquette, I was a bit surprised to see that on Christmas Eve, most of the columnists didn’t even touch Christmas. (Maybe they figured any train wrecks are now far beyond stopping….).
- Abby revisited the issue of reading or not reading collections of private letters between deceased relatives (I responded to this one after the original October column)
- Kathy and Marcy of Annie’s Mailbox counseled a high school student who’s being buillied about her Jolie-like “duck lips”
- Dan Savage, whom I read weekly, but rarely write about here (partly because most of his answers are a bit out of my range of expertise, and partly because when I started this blog I checked the “no adult content” box, and generally try to avoid profanity, etc.) gives a slight nod to “last minute Christmas gifts,” but mostly covers the standard Savage Love grab bag of spanking, smelliness, and electro-stimulation.
- Miss Manners hits on foreclosure and telecommunications
- And Carolyn wrote about HPV, of all things!
Golly gee whillikers, where can a girl get a little holiday spirit, or at least a little festive forehead slapping?
- Amy hits the spot, featuring a woman (I’m guessing) who is obsessed with the fact that her relative cannot send Christmas gifts on time. The gifts always arrive eventually, but she’d apparently do away with gifts altogether rather than have them show up late. How old is she, 9? Unless there are kids thinking Santa’s been run over (by a reindeer?) because the presents aren’t there, what’s the big friggin’ deal? Amy conveys basically the same sentiment, though not in so many words.
- Prudence devotes all four of her weekly featured letters (plus the video!) to Christmas conundrums (conundra? help me, Latin speakers!). Get ready for simmering sibling entitlement, multicultural mishaps, mysterious gifts from married men, and my two favorites: absurdly political Christmas cards and prank gift wrapping that would give Wile E. Coyote a run for his money.
- Carolyn’s last pre-holiday live chat also had a few doozies: gourmet cooks griping about lame holiday food, obnoxious custody arrangements, and this, my favorite one (scroll all the way down to the bottom):
Washington, DC: Carolyn
Any tips for surviving driving my sister from one parent’s house to the other this weekend? It’s a three hour trip and she commandeers my radio, criticizes my driving, and generally drives me nuts every time we’re in the car. Plus, she’ll be ready late and want to stop at every Starbucks we pass, which will make her have to pee. I’m anticipating the three hour drive will take roughly 4.5 with her in the car. How do I do it so we arrive at parent no. 2’s house with me still in the holiday spirit?
Carolyn says: Read this, see how funny this is, and treat yourself to a foofy hot somethingorother on one if not all of the stops.
Gentle readers (to snag a phrase from Miss Manners), thanks for sticking around for year two of A Little Help Please?! Happy holidays, and see you in the new year! (unless things are boring at home, in which case I’ll see you, like, tomorrow).
Posted in Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy, Carolyn Hax, Dan Savage, Dear Abby, Dear Prudence, Emily Yoffe, gifts, Holiday Horrors Hootenanny, holidays, live chat, Savage Love
I haven’t written much (anything?) about Dan Savage since, like, July, which I think is just a scheduling issue more than it is anything else: his new columns come out on Thursdays, and Thursday is when I’m really tired and lazy, and have to be at work earlier than any other day. So I end up skipping over him. And I by skipping, I mean never-getting-around-to-writing-about. Because I still read every week.
Anyway, this week’s column seems as good as any to link back to–it’s a summary of his latest speaking tour around several universities “out East.” This is particularly appropriate because I knew nothing about Dan Savage until he came to speak at MY university several years ago, which led to my reading his entire online archive, and following the weekly updates on The Stranger’s website.
At these events, students submit anonymous questions on 3×5 cards, and Dan selects the most entertaining/useful/horrifying/enlightening ones, and reads them and answers them aloud. The column features questions that he didn’t get to in his speaking engagement, such as:
When did you first realize you were LGBTQ, and how did people react to that? Did you struggle to find support?
I didn’t realize I was L, B, T, and Q until I arrived in Albany. And I’m not sure how friends and family are going to react to my recently discovered lesbianism, bisexuality, impending transition, and questioning status—question: now that I’m LGB and T, what outstanding Qs could there be?—but I expect they will be supportive. Just as confused as I am, but nevertheless supportive.
When I was at IWU, I didn’t really have any basis of comparison for what other schools were like. Now that I go to a school 20 times its size, when I see entertainers on TV or in print that I heard speak there, I wonder what they thought of our tiny little stage in the Hansen Student Center, and if we were completely ridiculous. Ah well, how much better can a columnist or comedian do than wind up with an intelligent-yet-ridiculous audience? Seems ideal to me.
Not even Dan Savage can avoid vital reader questions about wedding etiquette…
Note: when I created this blog, they (um, blogger.com) asked me to indicate whether it should be identified as containing “adult” content….I didn’t even think about this until I realized that Dan Savage will probably be making occasional appearances. So I decided, I’ll link to him, and talk around him, or maybe use code words when necessary….but I probably won’t copy and paste excerpts from his columns here, except for the very tame bits. And then, what’s the point really?
This actually works out well because Dan Savage has such a nicely maintained Web site. I’m posting extended quotes from my other columnists, when relevant, because I’m not sure if the links to their columns will go bad as time goes by–but that’s no problem with the extensive Savage Love archives at our fingertips. Thank God.