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March 30th, 2009 (12:22 am)

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Author Spotlight: David Levithan

March 30th, 2009 (03:37 pm)

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When I took my turn at GuysLitWire today, I put the spotlight on author David Levithan.

Be it within a short story or a full-length novel, David Levithan always seems to create characters and scenarios which are realistic and relevant. Most of his books are led by teenaged guys who are trying to figure out something about themselves, and probably their friends, and maybe even the world around them.

Whenever the opportunity presents itself, I sing the praises of David Levithan's writing. Opportunity seemed to knock a lot last fall: When Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist was made into a film, I encouraged everyone to read the book (co-authored by Levithan and Rachel Cohn) before they saw the movie. As the presidential election heated up last fall, I talked Wide Awake up to customers and posted about it at both Bildungsroman, my blog, and SparkNotes. We also recommended Wide Awake at readergirlz last November.

I've read all of Levithan's novels to date. My favorites include:

Boy Meets Boy: What if someone's orientation was a non-issue? If people honestly, truly accepted gay and straight (and questioning) without question, and recognized love as love? Boy Meets Boy is a romantic comedy for ANYONE, but especially for teen boys who might be shy (or curious) about their orientation, and especially for librarians, teachers, and booksellers who support GLBTQ rights and wish more places would do so without blinking an eye. Here's a little peek inside of Boy Meets Boy:

There isn't really a gay scene or a straight scene in our town. They got all mixed up a while back, which I think is for the best. Back when I was in second grade, the older gay kids who didn't flee to the city for entertainment would have to make their own fun. Now it's all good. Most of the straight guys try to sneak into the Queer Beer bar. Boys who love boys flirt with girls who love girls. And whether your heart is strictly ballroom or bluegrass punk, the dance floors are open to whatever you have to offer.

Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist: Take the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, set it at nighttime, make the main characters perfect strangers, and turn up the volume on your favorite rock CD, and you'll be in the right mindset. Nick & Norah have one wild and crazy night in the city filled with music, connections, and discovery. They tell their story back-and-forth, in alternating chapters, with Rachel Cohn writing for Norah and David Levithan writing for Nick. If you like going to live concerts and getting lost in the music and the crowd, if you like meeting new people and finding new bands, or if you like just driving around a busy city and seeing where the night takes you, you will definitely like this book. Read my full-length review.

What did you think of the movie? Did you read the book first? Tell me in the comments below!

Wide Awake: Set in the not-too-distant future, when a gay Jewish man is elected President and those results are challenged. His supporters include two young men, concerned teenagers at the center of our story, who are learning to stand up for their rights and speak out from their hearts.

Levithan's other major works include:

The Realm of Possibility: A verse novel, set at a high school, told from a dozen different POVs. Read my favorite passage from the book.

Are We There Yet? Two not-so-close brothers, ages 16 and 23, take a trip to Italy.

Marly's Ghost: A modern-day version of A Christmas Carol set on Valentine's Day.

Naomi & Ely's No-Kiss List: Yes, girls and guys can have strictly platonic and very close friendships. Another collaboration with Rachel Cohn.

How They Met, and Other Stories: A collection of 18 short stories, unrelated except for their overall theme: "stories about love." Read my review.

Love is the Higher Law: Three teens and the aftermath of September 11th.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson: A collaboration with John Green (author of Looking for Alaska and other GuysLitWire-worthy reads) due out in April 2010 about two teens, both named Will Grayson.


Levithan is also one of three authors who work on the Likely Story series, in which a teen girl - the daughter of a famous soap opera actress - develops her own daytime soap. The series byline reads "David Van Etten," which takes the last name of one of the writers (Chris Van Etten) and the first name of others (Levithan and David Ozanich).

In addition to his work as a novelist, Levithan is also an editor. Once upon a time, he worked on The Baby-Sitters Club books by Ann M. Martin. Years later, he founded PUSH for Scholastic, an imprint focusing on edgy, realistic teen ficition. He has also contributed to a number of anthologies, including but not limited to 21 Proms and What a Song Can Do, and wrote the novelizations of the films The Perfect Score and 10 Things I Hate About You.

Kudos, David, for your highly approachable, commendable, and recommendable works.

Related Posts at Bildungsroman
Interview: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2006)
Interview: Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (2007)
Book Review: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist
Book Review: How They Met, and Other Stories by David Levithan
He Said, She Said: Boy Meets Boy
Roundtable: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (in which Jackie and I discuss the book at length)
Playlist: Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist (each track represents a chapter of the book)
Author Spotlight: Rachel Cohn

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