Two boys kissing by David Levithan
Text Publishing 2013. ISBN 9781922147486.
As always, I can only speak subjectively and for myself. I understand and acknowledge that certain people will not only understand but identify with this book, and I happen to be one of those people.
A voice begins and ends this extraordinary novel - the voice of experience, the voice of those who have lived and died. The book is narrated by the chorus of a gay community past, victims of the AIDS virus.
Two boys kissing is a lurid and obvious title for so nuanced and complex a work. It comprises of very contemporary and very relevant stories about young gay men, detailing their relationships, social lives and pressures.
If nothing, this is a profoundly accessible insight into modern gay culture, but it is so much more. Another thing to note is how curiously devoid of camp humour the novel is. The themes are normalized and the characters remain beautifully, painfully human, a welcome change from the often gaudy glamourization of same-sex attracted characters.
The stark, nostalgic reminiscences from an anguished mass grave is a bold choice, and there is a poignant balance between the regret of the dead and celebration of love, a distinguished, discriminated, powerful love.
Two boys kissing is about much more than just two boys kissing. It is a triumphant ode to the fighters who continue to fight, a eulogy to a historic fatality. A celebration of boys who kiss and have kissed boys, both furiously alive and long gone.
Henry Vaughan (Student)