Tag Archive: Savage, Dan

May 17

Book Review: American Savage by Dan Savage

Note:  The reviewed text was an advance reader copy acquired through netgalley.com

Why yes, I am reviewing another Dan Savage book.  If I haven’t inspired you to read his earlier books The Kid or The Commitment, then I’m going to take another crack at it with his latest collection, American Savage which comes out on May 28, 2013.

The book is a collection of essays about exactly what it says on the cover: faith, sex, love, and politics.  For individuals familiar with Dan Savage’s weekly advice column Savage Love or his weekly podcast, many of the topics will sound familiar.  However, Savage does a good job of putting a new twist on old favorites that make this book more than just a rehashing of old ground.

I wish I could make pieces of this collection required reading for people I went to undergrad with.  Not everyone at ShoCo was incredibly sheltered, but a lot of people were.  No joke: I once had a 19 year old woman ask me how a condom worked because she had asked her three roommates and none of them could figure it out.  Scary, I know.  So I helped set her straight, but I wish I had known to turn them on to Dan Savage at that time, to teach them about GGG sex, to discuss the possibility of monogam-ish circumstances, and to really slam a lot of the bullshit advice that’s out there from people who would rather pretend to be classy than be actually useful.  Savage covers all of this in this collection with warmth, humor, and a memorable edge.  The collection compels you to move forward, and there are many sections that I didn’t want to end.

The problem with any collection of essays is that it’s hard for the entire collection to achieve excellence.  With every essay having equal weight in the collection, the whole thing is only as strong as the mix of the worst and the best together.  Although I agree almost to the letter with Savage’s politics and opinions, some of the political-themed essays had a stridency that wasn’t my cup of tea.  In one essay about having an at-his-home debate with the current chair of the National Organization for Marriage (boo, hiss), he makes the point that his partner Terry was less-than-pleased about the arrangement.  Whereas Savage is the sort of person who goes to CPAC for kicks and desperately wants a picture with Rick Santorum, Terry avoids the conflict because in his mind, the argument has been settled, the gays won, and arguing with assholes isn’t fun.  I’m with Terry, but I will admit it’s pretty funny when Savage writes about it.

On a completely different note, Savage tackles physician-assisted suicide in an essay about his mother’s death.  It is incredibly moving and sad, and I recommend you perusing it in a bookstore if you read nothing else in this collection.

Who the hell am I kidding?  You should read the whole thing.  It’s great, and it’ll make you a better person.  Or at least a little more knowledgeable person.

JMF Rating: 7/10

’til next time,

-JMF

Jul 24

Book Review: The Kid by Dan Savage

Let no one ever accuse me of being trendy.  I rarely read new books as they come out, though this is becoming more and more common the longer I work at a public library.  I’m much more likely to read something that is years (and occasionally decade out of date).  Like this book that I just finished:  The Kid: What Happened After My Boyfriend and I Decided to Go Get Pregnant by Dan Savage, originally published in 1999.

The book tells the story of Dan and his partner Terry adopting their son through an open adoption process.  The book primarily serves as a linear memoir about the open adoption process in Oregon in the late 1990’s.  However, there are several asides while Savage discusses politics, religion, Icelandic music, and bleeding copiously from the anus in his typically acerbic fashion.

For anyone who knows me, they know that while I love children, I love them most of all when they belong to other people and they can be taken away from me when I get tired of them.  But, Savage’s combination of cutting humor and realistic reasoning makes the whole process of child-getting and child-rearing…if not less daunting, then certainly more achievable.  It’s something that we mere mortal gay men with typical problems might be able to achieve.  Not that there aren’t bumps along the way (your birth mom may be a street punk and you may have a Fetal Alcohol Syndrome scare, for example).

I think that this book is still relevant.  Some of the current event type information has changed in the years since it came out (gay adoption is now legal in Florida but illegal in eight new states plus G. W. Bush went from governor to president), but I don’t think the emotions behind the book and what it means to be gay and starting a family in the 21st century have changed that much.  You still are going to have to hear dumb but well-meaning questions and you’re still going to have to explain ad nauseam that your child has two fathers or mothers.  This book makes it a little easier by showing that not every person who goes into fatherhood has a halo, and that that’s okay.

JMF Rating: 7/10