21 May 2013

Bennett Madison

Years ago, before I had ever read any young adult books, my agent told me to pick up Lulu Dark Can See Through Walls. It captured me right from the start. A girl detective with killer fashion sense and Mean Girl-esque snark to match? I was hooked. After I read the first Lulu Dark, I Googled the heck out of everything and was delighted to discover that there was a sequel. And of course I started following author Bennett Madison's, well, everything. His blog, his Twitter, whatever the heck was out there in the technology wasteland of the late 2000s.

Basically I unabashedly, and stalkerishly, became a fan.

A few years later, I went to an author thing in New York and saw Bennett there and maybe said out loud, "Wow, Bennett Madison." I met him and we talked the shared language of X-Men and Wizard of Oz obsession. If you know anything about me, that's pretty much two of my favorite things ever. (I dunno where it went, but Bennett had a short story on Figment that included extensive X-Men references, which I probably should have saved somewhere just to re-read over and over, it was so good.)

I could go on and on about Bennett's lyrical writing voice, his expansive smarts, his winning humor (Q: What's your favorite blonde joke? A: Courtney Love), his iconic hair, but that would just be gushing. Plus embarrassing. Anyway, ever since 2009's Blonde of the Joke -- featuring malls and shoplifting, a rite of passage for every proper young person -- I've been waiting for Bennett to release another book. And now it's here: September Girls.
"When 17-year-old Sam accompanies his older brother and increasingly distracted father to a washed-out beach town for the summer, after his mother inexplicably bails on the family, he expects to spend long hours watching The Price Is Right. What he doesn't expect are legions of gorgeous, though somehow strange blonde 'Girls' (as Sam thinks of them) all eyeing him like he's, well, special. After Sam meets and feels an instant connection with one of the Girls, DeeDee, the summer takes a crazy turn."
September Girls is some next level YA, if I may say so. I've read a lot of young adult since those first Lulu books, and while many of them have captured my heart, I've been waiting for YA to move past certain viewpoints and constraints, especially contemporary YA. I think September Girls does that, all the way. I can't even think of a comparison novel.

I went to see Junot Diaz speak a few weeks ago and something he told the audience was (in reference to a dumb question about Oscar Wao and literary symbolism): "Moby Dick was not about a whale." September Girls is not about mermaids. Or maybe it is. You figure it out. #dracarys

Below are a wealth of Bennett related links. Because the Internet was made for sharing. Take special note of What Cassie Wore, Bennett's short-lived gem of a Tumblr dedicated the timeless character on Skins. You know, before she changed her name to "Gilly" and moved to Westeros to schelp around incest babies. Life beyond The Wall is tougher than it was in Bristol I guess.

Go grab a copy of September Girls. I promise you'll have a time. It'll be an extravaganza.