Account Of Ariel Schrag Reading From Her New Novel Creative Writing

Length: 3 pages Subject: Women's Issues - Sexuality Type: Creative Writing Paper: #76801910 Related Topics: Transgender, Broadway, Autobiographical, Reading
Excerpt from Creative Writing :

Ariel Schrag is a cartoonist, television writer, and novelist. Schrag is perhaps best known through her television work, on the groundbreaking lesbian-themed Showtime series "The L Word" (for which she wrote over two seasons in 2006-7) and the HBO series "How to Make It In America" in 2011. Schrag first came to prominence, however, in the cartooning scene, with her series of autobiographical graphic novels in the late 1990s about being a lesbian in high school in Berkeley, California -- where she indeed grew up, attended high school, and started publishing these cartoon chronicles of her teenage lesbian adventures. Shrag graduated from high school in Berkeley in 1998 and attended Columbia University: she has lived in New York City since that time, although she has now moved from Morningside Heights to a more Bohemian spot in Brooklyn. And it was in Brooklyn that Schrag read from her newly-published novel, Adam -- issued in late 2014 by Mariner Books, this is Schrag's first effort at storytelling without her drawings. Adam is, in her words, "just a voice -- no pictures."

Schrag's Brooklyn reading was hosted by famous lesbian publishing maven Elizabeth Gately, who runs a reading series called "The Finest Hour" in the legendary MEx (Metropolitan Exchange) space at 33 Flatbush Avenue, just a few blocks from the Brooklyn Academy of Music, but lauded by no less an eminence than The New York Times itself as "Seven Stories Full of Ideas" -- a legendary open-space seven story office building where publishing types rub shoulders with architects, fashion designers, and independent creative professionals of all types. MEx is where Gately hosts "The Finest Hour" as a quarterly salon intended to introduce new music and fiction to a wider audience. Schrag's fans include the minimalist composer Nico Muhly, who was in attendance, and who describes Schrag's new novel as "hysterically funny." Based on Schrag's reading at MEx on May 8, 2015, Muhly seems to be right: Schrag's often-painful observations about the lives of queer teenagers are almost always resolved in


And rarely enough for an author of new fiction, Schrag's reading had the audience in stitches.

Adam is a novel intended for young adults, Schrag explains, although the book is published by a fiction imprint that publishes books for grown-ups. The novel is set in 2006 in New York City, and involves an awkward and inexperienced teenage boy from California, Adam Freedman, who comes to stay with his older sister in New York City. The twist is that Casey is a lesbian who belongs to a rather lively and boisterous lesbian subculture, of the sort familiar to readers of Schrag's graphic novels, or current Broadway rave and recent Macarthur-Genius-winner Alison Bechdel's famous comic strip "Dykes to Watch Out For" (the origin of the famous "Bechdel Test"). The gawky teenage boy suddenly finds himself socializing exclusively with lesbians and falling in love with one of them -- a girl named Gillian. Adam is smitten, and therefore presents himself to Gillian as a female-to-male transsexual. Relationships between lesbians and transmen are fairly common, but of course Adam is cisgendered -- that is to say, he has a penis. In short, Schrag has taken the set-up of a classic Shakespeare comedy -- even the name Adam reminds a reader of As You Like It -- and updated it for what she described, in her opening remarks before reading from the book, as "punk-ass queer youth."

Thus far Schrag's novel has received rave reviews. Her fellow cartoonist Bechdel has described Adam as "the most twisted, hilarious, and deeply gratifying reading experience I have had in a long time," and the Washington Post declared that the novel is "both mortifying and hugely entertaining." The mortifying aspects of adolescence are what Schrag writes about so beautifully, both in her earlier work and in the new book. This was clear in the portion that she read, which involved awkward Adam finally consummating his relationship with Gillian -- because he is pretending to be an FTM transsexual, he consummates it while wearing a strap-on. The fact that the audience found a sex scene so hysterically funny should indicate that this is no ordinary novel about teenagers in America: this is a sexually frank and well-informed look at the lives of young people who are often considered marginal, even though you may find…

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