Philadelphia, PA—Citing poor reviews following the release of his most recent novel, Cuddle Buddy Wanted, area gay writer Joshua Harding is utterly perplexed as to why his novels are no longer getting the acclaim they used to.
“I have to say, I’m completely shocked about the feedback,” said Harding. “I thought my latest novel was one of my best to date.”
Cuddle Buddy Wanted follows the escapades of a young gay teen named Eryck (known as the “Baddest Betch Around,” according to his Grindr profile). Eryck struggles with his identity as a gay teen and attempts to hide his identity from his friends and family. But then (SPOILER ALERT) he learns to love himself for who he truly is.
“I have a pretty unique formula for my novels,” said Harding. “Typically it involves a young gay teen, most likely white, male, middle-class—well, upper-middle-class—and he has a really rough time being gay.” Harding added, “I find them rather groundbreaking.”
When asked about his seven earlier novels with similar themes, Harding defended his work.
“They’re uplifting stories of transformation, really. When something works, why switch it up?”
Temple senior Daniel Van Acker, who’s studying English, felt differently.
“If I read another fucking book about a gay teen coming out of the closet, I might just throw up,” said Van Acker. “Like, seriously.”
Van Acker went on to describe some of the other gay novels he’s been reading as of late. The descriptions were pretty bleak.
“I mean, I read this one book about a girl who had to come to terms with the fact that she had developed feelings for her female teacher—but that just ended up being a coming-out novel,” said Van Acker. “Oh, and then I also read a book about this guy who came out, but then he moved, and he had to come out again.” Van Acker added, “Sucks for that dude.”
Area teen Mitchell Brown happened to stumble upon Harding’s new book when he was at his high school book fair.
“Yeah, I read that book,” said Brown. “There was this gay guy, see, and he had a hard time being gay.” Brown added, “I thought it was pretty gay.”
After being asked if he meant gay in a derogatory way, Brown got defensive.
“What do you mean? The book was about gay stuff—it was pretty damn gay.”
Citing Van Acker’s and Brown’s reactions to his latest novel, Harding felt pretty helpless.
“I mean, fuck, what do my readers want from me?” said Harding. “I guess it’s not enough to just write a book about gay people—I actually have to add a plot in there now.”
It seems as though the tides are changing for the LGBT genre. Some critics have said that we are officially past the era of the standard coming-out novel. Now there are gay characters in novels for fun—supposedly it adds flair.
So what’s next for the LGBT genre? Harding has some ideas.
“Obviously, I’m going to have to try something new,” said Harding. “I have heard a lot of hubbub about gay and lesbian vampire novels being the next big thing—maybe I’ll try to get into that market.”This post is by Matthew Bennett Jr. Matthew is a first-year MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Tech. He holds a BA in English & Textual Studies and a BS in psychology from Syracuse University. He has a mile PR of 4:15, is a Gilmore Girls fanatic, and also loves to play handbells.