Jump to content

Dewey- King of Angst


Recommended Posts

Few authors work, gay or otherwise, have had a deeper impact on me than Dewey's Brian & Pete Saga.

When I first started reading it last December, I hated it. I quit reading it in disgust because of the rawness of the emotions that it stirred in me.

At the time, I had quit feeling. I didn't like to feel because everything that I was feeling was searing pain- over and over again. The suicide of a close friend, the way AIDS killed so many people that I was close too, getting bashed so bad I was unconscious for four days and last, but not least, the crap I went through when I was Brian & Pete's age.

For years I hid in a bottle or stayed high whenever I wasn't at work. I didn't want to feel. Feelings suck. But... I got clean and sober October 1st. I had a choice: learn to live without those feelings or kill myself quickly or slowly like I had been doing for years.

I was seeing a shrink who told me I that had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. No shit.

There was just a little problem: I had been suppressing emotion for so long I was "shut in".

I told my Shrink about Brian & Pete and the feelings that it did stir up in me. She encouraged me to keep reading it. So... In January of this year, I started reading it again.

Brian & Pete are two seventh graders who figure out who they are and who they want to be with- each other.

They go through all the same things that I did- how do you know that you are gay? You're just a kid. You're too young to know what love is. Let's separate them and they'll forget all about each other- right? Let's get a kristian kounselor to "fix" him.

Wrong. The reason that I reacted so strongly to Brian & Pete is that they were like me...ME! Reading about them going through all that shit- it unlocked the deep, dark cellar doors of my mind to the festering garbage that I had been carrying around since I was their age. The only way I could keep it from overwhelming me was to get drunk or get high on a regular basis.

Reading B&P I laughed, I cried, I swore- and through it all, I began to see myself in a different light. Yeah- I was a deeply disturbed kid that grew up in some of the worst kind of abuse imaginable. But I began to see that I faced things with courage and compassion. I may have been gay but I was by no means a pussy.

Brian & Pete is an amazing story that any gay person will instantly recognize as painfully authentic. The angst, the bullying, the harassment, the bewildered parents, the friends that stay and the ones that go. It is so good at describing how gay kids are wired that my Shrink has recommended it to other shrinks that have gay patients.

Dewey's work is very intense. He has a knowledge of emotion and psychology that is deep and very rare and his writing is both skillful and powerful. Brian & Pete is a classic of the genera. If you have missed it, what the heck are you waiting for?

>>>Dewey's Place

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

I want to like the For the Love of Pete series, but the whole thing recently descended into so much contrived melodrama, I'm just wide-eyed and bewildered at the whole thing.

The current installment, where the two have split up because one of them (God knows which; I get them both confused) outted himself at school by coming to the rescue of a gay kid who was getting beaten up in a fight by a thug. The secret boyfriend -- I think it was Pete -- is incensed that Brian has put him in the position of pretty much being outted, gets incensed beyond belief and breaks up with him.

This completely goes against the entire romantic direction the series has been in for several years. I have absolutely no problem with conflict in fiction, but this to me just rings so false, so patently contrived, I feel like the author just threw it in there to stir things up. I don't buy that the characters would have this argument for more than an day, let alone allow things to boil to a head to cause them to split up.

I could also also make the argument that I don't think 13 year-olds could have romantic entanglements this intense and involved, but that's another topic entirely. (The author also seems to have forgotten that much earlier in the story, Pete somehow inherited a small fortune, and I think that money could've solved a lot of their current problems.)

Don't get me wrong: I think Dewey has talent, but I think this story is meandering all over the place like an out-of-control soap opera. Angst can be a good thing in fiction, but only if the reader can really believe it. It's a frustrating story to read, because I think he's capable of doing better work than this.

Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
I could also also make the argument that I don't think 13 year-olds could have romantic entanglements this intense and involved, but that's another topic entirely.

People develop and mature at many different rates. 12 to 16 has traditionally been the age of adulthood in many societies. It has only been very recently, the industrial revolution, that the age of adulthood has been so delayed. This came about because employers needed laborers with broader skill sets like reading, writing and mathematics.

The change from the agrarian economy to the industrial one was a cultural earthquake that changed a great many things. Some of the prime examples were minimum age requirements for employment, the labor movement and public education.

The last two hundred years have extended adolescence for citizens of the industrialized world. This DOES NOT mean that the drives and the feelings associated with adolescent sexuality are GONE. This simply means that adolescent sexuality is delayed and, for the most part, usually forcefully repressed.

YES- young adolescents are quite capable of forming intense bonds and experiencing the associated emotions. For heterosexual youth, this is considered a rite of passage.

For gay and lesbian youth, well... I think you know this part. It is the area which many of us explore in our stories.

Is Brian & Pete realistic from an emotional standpoint? For me it most certainly is. I had NEVER seen what I experienced expressed so well and it helped. I didn't feel like such a freak anymore. I realized that I wasn't disturbed, delinquent, perverted or evil. I was just... precocious. :D

Link to comment

Please consider that authors go through times when it's difficult to get the story to gel the way they want it, and they also have rough times in their personal lives that may affect their writing positively or negatively.

I'm not sure why, but I've shied away from reading the Brian and Pete series, and I want to read it. Dewey is an accomplished author. To me, two of the most important measures of that are if an author's words speak important truths and make you feel along with the characters as though their lives are real. Dewey does that, I know, from his other writing.

As to whether young teens (or older teens) can have intense emotions, including romance...huh? "Intense" is practically synonymous with "teenage." Why else would coming of age stories and romance be such big themes in all literature, gay or straight? The fact that so many online gay stories center around teens dealing with new and confusing feelings is a direct reflection that we all remember how intense our own feelings at that time were (or are, for teen writers) and that we had to deal with them then and later. Such as, I'd point out, dealing with the good and the bad in those years by writing stories that reflect that range.

Link to comment

I never had those intense feelings in my teens. By that time I was already in my self imposed yet unrecognized mind blank stage. It is only recently that I've become aware of myself, my orientation, and I am now learning to explore my emotions by reading these stories.

Caution is obviously needed because I have nothing against which to judge the content, but I hope that experiencing the emotional highs and lows of the characters by immersing myself fully in the stories will allow me to become a 'better' person. Being an emotional zombie is really not the best way to go through life and I love the change. The downside of this slowly opening vista of emotional turmoil is that I am also feeling markedly 'down' at times, due in most part to having no-one special in my life. I am willing to feel this, since I really do feel more alive this way but a nice bonus would be to find that special someone to show me the highs as well.

Link to comment
YES- young adolescents are quite capable of forming intense bonds and experiencing the associated emotions. For heterosexual youth, this is considered a rite of passage.

Well, everybody's kinda ignoring the main part of my critique, which was I don't buy the conflict that Dewey is throwing into the story. I think parts of the story are entertaining and well-written, which makes this problem all the more frustrating. It's like watching an otherwise good movie, and then it suddenly veers off into something silly or unbelievable, and you wind up throwing your popcorn cup at the screen.

What I'll say about teenage emotion is this: I believe that in a lot of ways, the first time you fall in love is, for many people, the most intense experience of your life. And I'd also agree that there's nothing more pure and more heartfelt than love at that age. I know it was for me, and I think some of that is reflected in my writing.

That having been said, you gotta read the Brian & Pete story to really see the problems the author as set up. To me, the story has taken some bizarre twists, and I also think the story ran outta steam a long time ago -- like a TV show that's gone about two seasons too long.

So I guess my main point was: I find it hard to believe that two 13 year-old kids could go through the emotional malestrom shown in the story. It's just too much. I'm all for suspending my disbelief, but it only goes so far.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...