By Jeff Walsh
With the trilogy of books that began with "Rainbow Boys," Alex Sanchez created indelible characters that have helped thousands of gay young adults see fiction that reflected their lives. In his latest book "Getting It," Sanchez has fun with the idea of a straight teenager who wants to get the girl and, after seeing Queer Eye on TV, enlists the help of the gay kid in his high school to help him win her heart.
Sanchez spends most of his time writing in Thailand these days, so we did an interview over Skype recently.
Well, let's start with Thailand. That's interesting to me, because I spent six weeks there and actually wrote my novel longhand down on a beach on Koh Samui.
Oh, cool. When was that?
A little more than ...two years ago? Three? I'm just finishing it up now.
By Jeff Walsh
"Life in Cartoon Motion," the debut album by Mika (released today in the UK, March 27 in the US), is the most assured, infectious first album to come out in quite some time. It is pure pop brilliance.
From the opening strains of "Grace Kelly" to the album's coda of "Happy Ending," Mika takes listeners on an aural journey through many styles of music. But each one is done with such authority, it never has the fractured OCD feel that plagues many albums that switch between many different musical styles.
"Grace Kelly" is the first track of the album, written as a kiss-off to music executives who wanted him to change his sound. The chorus of the song touches on his identity quest
I actually get that question a lot in private messages and e-mails, and I never have all that much to offer ya'll.
I don't really think of us as having relaunched yet, not really. Adrian still needs to roll out some basic features, and I still feel I'm managing a backlog of stuff more than letting the site find its groove. It still feels like I hijacked the front page of your site a bit too much, mainly because you don't have the option of entering through oasisjournals.com yet. I also anticipated launching the site a month and a half before we did, so I have a stack of things I've promised to review and I still feel like I have that hanging over me yet.
But since it keeps coming up, I guess the one thing anyone can do is link to us. From your facebook, myspace, livejournal, typepad, etc., put us there in your favorites. If you blog elsewhere and like something here, link to it.
OK, to round out Brent Hartinger Week on Oasis, he is going to be giving away the following to TWO lucky winners, both of which will receive the following:
In addition to the Brent Hartinger contest, which officially concludes Brent Hartinger Week, we also have the following to give away:
A daily feature that wraps up news items found elsewhere on the web about LGBTQ youth (and some additional randomness):
By Pat Nelson Childs
The cock crowed. The sun had just begun to creep above the Emerald Mountains. The autumn days still bore the sweetness of summer, but in the nighttime, cold air now swept over the peaks and high hills, leaving a crispness on the morning breeze. It wafted through the window of a dormitory room, and touched the faces of the two figures sleeping there. One of them yawned and sat up, shivering a bit as the bedcovers slid down and bared his torso. He stretched, flung back the grey woolen blanket and swung himself out of bed. Naked, and immediately chilled, he quickly headed for the basin to wash. The water, too, was ice cold, and he hurried through his ablutions so that he could dress.
This was Ely, a novice of the Brotherhood of the Noble Contemplative. He was a strapping lad of 17, with short brown hair, hazel eyes, and a wide, handsome face flawed only by a nose slightly crooked from a childhood break. Ely pulled on his muslin shorts and donned his robe, the cobalt blue color worn by all novices. Then he turned his attention to the still-sleeping figure in the other bed.
"Hey sleepy head," he said, giving the bed leg a kick. "Hey, Rokey! You're going to be late . . . again."
Although this is launching as part of Brent Hartinger Week, we intend to eventually get a bunch of old and allnew gay books, especially those targeting the young adult market, posted online.
This will give people more than a review or context-less recommendations to find books that interest them.
My guess is that it will lead you to Amazon, your localbookstore, or the library, so you can continue reading....
Enjoy the first chapters from all three books in Brent's Geography Club series below, and we'll try and get more posted as soon as we can.
By Brent Hartinger
I was standing far from daylight, deep in an echoing corridor of stone. The air was dry and dusty, and all around me, lifeless bodies lurched and groaned.
Then my best friend Gunnar motioned to me and my other best friend Min from over by a bulletin board next to a row of lockers. "Russ! Min!" he said. "You have to come see this!"
I was standing in the concrete hallways of Robert L. Goodkind High School, surrounded by sleep-deprived high school students. Hey, it was 8 A.M. - what'd you expect?
By Brent Hartinger
I was surrounded by fires, angry blazes raging all around me. The flames hissed and crackled, their blistering heat searing my exposed skin. I desperately wanted to run, but there was no escape. I was trapped by the heat. Any step I might take, any direction I might turn, the flames would flare up and engulf me.
Then the school bell rang, and the students around me began bustling off to class.
I was standing in the hallway of Robert L. Goodkind High School in the moments before my first period. I was surrounded by flames, yeah, but not the kind you might think. No, the fires that threatened me were the flames of hatred and suspicion that flickered in the eyes of my classmates. Why did I feel like the hallway of my high school was some perilous corridor of fire, and that the looks in the eyes of the other students were the flames of that blazing inferno? There is a very short answer to that question: earlier in the year, some friends and I had started the Goodkind High Gay-Straight-Bisexual Alliance. And now the whole school knew I was gay.
By Brent Hartinger
I was deep behind enemy lines, in the very heart of the opposing camp. My adversaries were all around me. For the time being, my disguise was holding, but still I felt exposed, naked, as if my secret was obvious to anyone who took the time to look. I knew that any wrong action, however slight, could expose my deception and reveal my true identity. The thought made my skin prickle. The enemy would not take kindly to my infiltration of their ranks, especially not here, in their inner sanctum.
Then Kevin Land leaned over the wooden bench behind my locker and said, "Yo, Middlebrook, let me use your shampoo!"
I was in the high school boys' lockerroom at the end of third period P.E. class. I'd just come from the showers, and part of the reason I felt naked was because I was naked. I'd slung my wet towel over the metal door of my locker and was standing there all goosebumpy, eager to get dressed and get the hell out of there. Why exactly did I feel like the boys' lockerroom after third period P.E. was enemy territory -- that the other guys in my P.E. class were rival soldiers in some war-like struggle for domination? Well, there's not really a short answer to that question.
By Jeff Walsh
I've already reviewed "Spring Awakening" back when I was on the east coast for the holidays. The Broadway show has really stuck with me, both the music, the story, the visuals, everything... so, I was pleased to find out that Gideon Glick, 18, whose character Ernst is seduced by another boy in the show, is openly gay and willing to chat with Oasis.
We spoke recently about the show, his thoughts on being an openly gay actor, and how his desire to see Queer as Folk brought him out of the closet in the seventh grade.
But, of course, we start off with Spring Awakening...
What a great show you ended up in there...
Yeah, it's quite fun!
Were you in it from the whole Off-Broadway production and everything?
Yeah, I got in on the Off-Broadway production. There were workshops and all beforehand, but I started Off-Broadway.
By Jeff Walsh
Spring Awakening: A New Broadway Musical features music by Duncan Sheik, with book and lyrics by Steven Sater.
The caveat is that I can only review this from the perspective of having heard it after seeing the show on Broadway. So, in my mind, many of the songs have choreography, lighting, and visuals, which augments my enjoyment of the CD.
Right up front, I will say that John Gallagher Jr. as Moritz was my favorite lead performer in the show. He also does the most rocking songs in the show, so I have heard his stuff most often while working out at the gym. But his tracks, such as "The Bitch of Living," "And Then There Were None," and "Don't Do Sadness" are some of my favorite up-tempo songs, along with "Totally Fucked," where the entire ensemble erupts to release their pent-up angst in a burst of dance and song.
By Jeff Walsh
With his first novel, Geography Club, Brent Hartinger captures the angst and loneliness of feeling that you're the only gay person in the world. How it is difficult to imagine that, in the segregated high school social scene, your "different" sexuality is hidden under the surface and can unite you with people you otherwise wouldn't know, talk to, or considering hanging out with.
In the novel, Russel does his best to avoid anything that might tip people off that he's gay. He plays along with the jokes in the locker room, dates girls, whatever it takes. Online one night, Russel finds a chat room for his small town in Idaho on a gay website. He starts chatting with the person known only as GayTeen in the room. They are the same age. They are in the same grade. And.. they go to the same school?! Russel is a perfect blend of fear and excitement, unable to consider anyone else in his school, his grade even, could also be gay, while also fearing revealing his own identity. Neither will reveal their real name first, fearing the other person won't do the same. Instead, they decide to go meet in person and, that night, they come face to face.
Once the two characters meet, Russel's desire to talk about everything (meeting this guy, his being gay, etc.) leads him to come out to friends, who eventually form their own secret society within the high school. A group of them decide to meet twice a week for "Geography Club," picked because it sounds so boring no one else would ever show up to attend. And safer than a GSA, because no one has to come out as gay to talk about geography.
By Jeff Walsh
In The Order of the Poison Oak, his sequel to Geography Club, Brent Hartinger avoids the 'haven't we been here before' feeling sequels sometimes often evoke by changing up everything but the main characters. This time, we still get Russel, Gunnar and Min from the first book, but the premise of the book is that to get away from everything, the trio become summer camp counselors.
Russel sees it as a way to go somewhere where no one will know he's gay, after starting his school's GSA and becoming the school fag in the process. Gunnar wants to use the summer as a way to avoid girls in general. And Min, who helped start the GSA as well, agrees to go with them.
The book is a fun read where we see the main characters have crushes on other counselors, as they have to learn how to make young camp attendees behave and follow instructions. Even when things could be perceived as heavy-handed (a camp full of burn victims with a forest fire approaching?), Hartinger makes it all work somehow.