I’ve been ignoring Pinterest for years, assuming that it was sort of like Etsy — girly little fondnesses and cute homemade stuff. Certainly there are no Native American people posting that I’ve seen and the photos that individuals collect about “Indians” are miscellaneous, misattributed, and old 19th century stuff. They're on the edge of being offensive due to stereotyping.
These are from Popovy Sisters.
But then I ran across “art dolls” which includes jointed, posable, incredibly slender and idealized dolls suitable for clothing and adorning. They were sophisticated versions of the paperdolls I amateurishly drew as I approached puberty. Many of them are remarkable. Closely related are artist-augmented babydolls, so realistic that it’s hard to believe they aren’t real. Both categories are very expensive.
Next I found old friends: cloth doll children. We had a family friend who made them and dressed them in little bib overalls or dresses. We could play with them at her house but never take them home. In high school I made some to use as marionettes. How nice. How non-threatening.
Then I finally got nudged into Pinterest because I was thinking about octopuses and a whole new world fell open. Little pastel octos and entirely terrifying tentacled monsters. Whole other genres appeared: clusters of middle-aged women having a visit, extremely fat women with tiny sweet faces, and. . . gay boys.
from Raven Chronicles
Boys. If you’ve been reading me a while, you may know that a decade ago I wrote with a cluster of boys in Paris who had formed a family based on photography and art. AIDS was just arriving. Boys this age are obsessed with two things: personal relationships and universal justice. (Reversals also count: I mean, enough anger can turn these to destruction and cruelty.) They’re all grown men now and we’re not in touch.
But on Pinterest I discover a whole new genre, writing with drawing, something like cartoons except about the lives of a special category of boys: gay, in need of family, falling in love with each other, trying to understand risky survival. The narrative is as clear as the drawing but I still don’t understand a lot because I’m not them in their world. I have no advisors. My brothers are dead.
“Ronan wasn’t that different. Well, he could seem not that different. He could move to follow the guy he loved, like anyone else. He could live in a city, like anyone else. It could work.”
• • •
“Then he reached out and wiped the tear from Ronan’s left eye. He showed this finger to Ronan, too.
It was smeared darkly with black.
“This won’t work, Ronan,” Adam said.”
So I get my Google fingers going and discover there are real books, published by Scholastic, about this kind of boy in this kind of tale. https://theravenboys.fandom.com/wiki/The_Raven_Cycle. The author is Maggie Steifvater. First book in 2012. NYT best seller #1. https://theravenboys.fandom.com/wiki/The_Raven_Boys_Wiki This is so wildly amazing that I can hardly believe it. Of course, none of these Raven fans know anything about me — why would they? But I’m still curious about them
There are two related literary genres that I do know about, though I’m not spending time on them right now. One is “lone” and romantic figures, usually male, who may be associated with wilderness and always has a “spirit animal” like a wolf associated with him. In the Raven Chronicles, it is a raven, of course, which makes for remarkable art. This is an old trope in Europe and elsewhere, but it is reinvigorated by being gay boys which pulls in some of the cowl-and-cape brotherhood of monastics. I also think of Neah Bay -- vampires are not far off.
The other genre, which is not recognized as a genre, is that of women — often gay — who write about gay men — often historical. I’m thinking about Mary Renault, who was gay and oppressed in England in WWII but found family as a nurse caring for soldiers and later in South Africa among a community of liberal ex-pats. And I’m thinking of Patricia Nell Warren whose “The Fancy Dancer”, is a much beloved novel about a priest and a Native American, which is a Montana book that both men and women love — quietly. Neither writer wanted to be known as “gay” or any other restriction on the right to simply be a human who writes. So many times and places to explore, so many differences that turn out to be samenesses.
Here's a puzzle. Rowling's Harry Potter is portrayed again and again as a grown man, always a dark and handsome figure, often seeming scholarly and always seeming probably Irish and sometimes suggesting Jesus. Kenner's question: What does it mean?