skygiants: Princess Tutu, facing darkness with a green light in the distance (cosmia)
After reading Peter Beagle's Summerlong and being Tragically Unimpressed, I made my book club read Tamsin just so I could remember the Beagles I have loved before.

Tamsin is very much a Beagle I have loved before. As a teenager it was probably my favorite Beagle, even moreso than The Last Unicorn, just because I identified so hard with sulky, obstreperous Jenny Gluckstein, a Jewish New York teenager who moves to Dorset and promptly falls head-over-heels for a beautiful eighteenth-century ghost named Tamsin Willoughby.

I described the book this way in book club. "But I don't want to oversell you on how gay it is," I added, worriedly. "I mean I haven't reread it since I was a teenager. It definitely might not be as gay as I remember. Maybe it isn't gay at all, and I was just projecting!"

...rest assured, this book is very gay. We're not entirely sure if Beagle knows just how gay it is? There are numerous moments where Jenny describes in great detail the tingly feelings that Tamsin's quirky smile and vanilla smell and tiny ghost freckles make her feel, and then adds something like "I guess I'll probably feel that way about a boy someday!" Will you, Jenny? WILL YOU?

(I mean, maybe she will, bisexuality definitely an option, I'm just saying. The book is first-person, with the device of being an explanation of Everything That Went Down from the perspective of several years later for Jenny's friend Meena to read; the structure makes a whole lot more sense if one just assumes Jenny and Menna are by this point dating. Meena is in the book plenty! Thematically paralleled with Tamsin, even! Meena's jealousy of the time Jenny spends mysteriously disappearing to hang out with a ghost and Jenny's jealousy of Meena's tragic crush on The Boy She Pines For Across The Choir Benches is a whole thing!)

So yes, in retrospect, it turns out I still love Tamsin - even though, in retrospect, reading it now, it's a super weirdly-structured book. The first solid third of the book is all Jenny's SULKY OBSTREPEROUS AGONIZING TEENAGE FEELINGS about leaving New York, which is fine, I guess, except it introduces half a dozen characters that are super important to Jenny in New York and will never be important again. Then another character who's incredibly important to the finale of the book shows up maybe three chapters before the end, and Jenny's like "oh yeah, I forgot to mention her? But she's been here the whole time, having weird interactions with me the whole time, let's just pretend I've been talking about it, OK? OK."

Still, Jenny's amused-embarrassed voice looking back at all the time she spent as a hideously embarrassing teenager continues to ring about as true for me as it did when I myself was a hideously embarrassing teenager. I think I'm always going to love Tamsin for that.

(Also the tragic feline love story of between Jenny's actual factual cat and Tamsin's imperturbable ghost cat continues to delight.)
skygiants: ran and nijiko from 7 Seeds, looking faintly judgy (dubious lesbians)
I really wanted to love Peter Beagle's newest novel Summerlong, because I love Peter Beagle and I never thought we would get a new Beagle novel, but alas I did not like it so well as I wished.

Summerlong follows long-term stable romantic partners Abe Aronson, a cranky Jewish retired professor that it's difficult not to read as Beagle's self-insert, and Joanna Delvecchio, a flight attendant counting down the years until she can retire and do what she wants.

Their relatively settled patterns are disrupted by the entrance of Lioness, a Mysterious Beautiful Young Woman who is Vaguely Greek And Somehow Unworldly, Strongly Identified With Spring, Makes Flowers Bloom, and appears to be Fleeing Or Hiding From Someone, Maybe, IDK, A Divine Greek Husband...?

Basically this appears to be Peter Beagle's stab at a divine-mundane novel in the vein of DWJ's Eight Days of Luke, in which a brush with myth triggers a change in the lives of the humans caught up in it. This is all well and good as far as it goes, and certainly Peter Beagle has the chops for the numinous mundane, except that the mundane part interwoven with the myth has all the features of those professor-midlife-crisis novels that have long been my nemesis, featuring irritated spoilers )

...however, the whole thing was almost worth it for how hard I laughed during one particular sequence in which Abe reads the entire Lymond Chronicles while repeatedly flying back and forth between Chicago and Seattle. This is as far as I remember the only other fiction namechecked in the entire book. Why the Lymond Chronicles, Peter Beagle? Did you just now read them and decide you had to tell the world?
skygiants: Kurai from Angel Sanctuary, giving the finger, with text 'are you there, God?  It's me, Kurai' (unprodigal)
Back to Top Fives - [livejournal.com profile] ojuzu asked me for my top five non-heteronormative characters. She also specifically excluded Utena characters from the running, which does make narrowing the list easier, given that pretty much every Utena character would count for this. Still hard, though!

Cut for images, as per usual. )

Also as per usual: if you want to chime in with your own favorite, please do!

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