Book Jacket

 

rank  Editors Pick
word count 24879
date submitted 24.02.2009
date updated 08.10.2009
genres: Literary Fiction, Young Adult, Gay,...
classification: moderate
incomplete

The Last Coming Out Story

Michael Whatling

How does the president of the school's “Rainbow Club” go from being the most popular student to the most hated? Though not for being gay.

 

***NEWS*** The Last Coming Out Story is now available as part of the short story collection A Vigil for Joe Rose. Available on Amazon.

Spencer is trying to stay under the radar. He’s already the token Anglo at his high school in Montréal, Canada – he doesn’t need "gay" added to that Shepherd’s Pie. That is until Jean-François, the hottest boy at school, starts a “Rainbow Club,” dragging Spencer along with him.

Spencer’s motto is “Tall boys are worth the climb,” and it’s uphill all the way if he’s going to win J.F.’s heart. He might even have to become an in-your-face activist, if that’s what it takes. But he isn't prepared to witness the object of his desire break a speed record for going from the most popular student to the most hated.

Based on a true story.

Set in Montreal, Canada, the place for outdoor cafés, festivals, same-sex marriage, and love. Gay or otherwise.

A postmodern take on coming out stories. Inspired by The Great Gatsby.

Movie Pitch: "Milk" in high school. :)

 
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tags

activism, being out, british, canada, canadian, comedy, coming of age, coming out, fiction, french, gay, gay-straight alliance, gsa, high school, humo...

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Chapter One

    The biggest queer at our school was Jean-François Giroux, the president of Coalition arc-en-ciel – the Rainbow Coalition – or “the gay club” as everyone calls it.

    Now that the graduation ceremony is over, J.F. walks with his parents to their car, his father’s hand placed protectively on his son’s shoulder. As he leaves the school for the last time, I can’t help but think he must have broken a speed record for going from the most popular student to the most hated. Though not for being gay.

    And I wonder if I’ll ever see him again.

 

 

    I first noticed J.F. last September – the start of secondaire IV for me, and secondaire V, the graduating year, for him. One day during morning récréation he was standing near my locker at the students’ bulletin board looking at the announcements for clubs, sports, and lost cats. He caught my attention because he looked hot. At our école secondaire, hot boys are as rare as Canadian flags, even though there are over eighteen hundred students, one of the biggest Francophone schools in Québec.

    He had to be at least six-foot-one. My motto then was Tall boys are worth the climb, although I had yet to kiss a boy, let alone scale one. I’m well aware I’m an unimpressive five-nine. Well, almost.

    Thinking I wasn’t being all that obvious, I watched him as he stapled a big fluorescent pink poster to the bulletin board. His dark brown hair was buzzed short with a small Tintin patch sticking up in front, just above his forehead. He wore blue shorts with an ironed line down each leg, and a coordinated blue short-sleeved polo shirt. I wondered where the matching pail and shovel were. His clothes were definitely off drumming to their own beat. I’d learnt long ago how you dressed was Step One to fitting in at high school. It’s simple enough – look at other students and wear what the majority’s wearing. Usually I had on some loose jeans, a fitted cap, and either some obscure band’s T-shirt or one with a random word on it. That day it was ponder. And, yes, I wear my jeans so low you can see my boxers. That drives my parents mad. Sometimes before I step back into the house after a day at school, I tuck in my shirt and pull up my pants to make them happy.

    What a strange mix! The softness of an oval face, the subtle curve of his nose in profile, his long eyelashes, but also the rugged strength implied by a natural tan and muscles that fill out clothes in a way mine never will. He stretched to staple the top of the poster, and his shirt rode up. I couldn’t help but notice what had to be some rock hard abs. It was a change from the stick boys and doughy flesh forced on me during gym class. I quickly looked away. It’s kind of pervy to stare like that.

    It took some maneuvering – I had to fake-drop a book and “accidentally” kick it a couple of feet away – but when I moved closer to him to pick it up, I could see the eyes behind those lashes. Dark blue. Damn he was hot! It was love at first ogle.

    J.F. glanced over at me and chuckled. Obviously he’d caught me looking at him, so I slammed the locker shut and speed-walked down the hall. Now that I think about it, I must have been quite a sight.

    During lunch I went back to put away some books, but that was just an excuse. I wanted to see what he’d put up on the bulletin board. The poster wasn’t hard to miss – it almost made my eyes water, it was that bright and cheerful. There were rainbows, hand-drawn and cut out of magazines, upside-down triangles, and a collage of hot models, girls and boys, that he probably found in fashion magazines. The biggest words were “Coalition arc-en-ciel,” and underneath text described a new club forming “pour combattre l’homophobie” along with the date and time for the first meeting, a week away. Straights welcome was underlined.

    “Is he gay?” I said out loud. Luckily no one else was in the hallway by then. Everyone was either in the cafeteria eating or outside racing across the playing fields to the nearest dépanneur to buy chips and chocolate bars and Coke and cigarettes. “The National Lunch of Québec,” my father jokingly calls it. Eating junk food and destroying their lungs are all kids can do since they no longer can buy scratch lottery cards – the Québec government was trying to look like it was enforcing the legal age limit. Next year they’ll try again to crack down on kids smoking.

    All of a sudden I felt weak. I sat on the cold floor under the bulletin board. I wasn’t out at school yet. I didn’t have a good reason not to tell everyone – I’d told my parents and sister and they were fine with it. But school might be another story. Not because I’d be beaten up or harassed in some horrible way. I didn’t think my school was like that. Sure there’s the everyday dose of ignorant homophobia – “C’est gai” is thrown around way too often for anyone’s liking – but Québec, after all, is pretty damn progressive. It was one of the first places to put protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in the Chartre des droits et libertés de la personne way back in the 1970s. There’s even a section in our history book about it.

    My father loves to go on and on about how liberal Québec is. He sees himself as a keen observer of all things Québécois, an “outsider” well placed to note “foibles and quirks,” even though he’s been living here for thirty-five years.

    My parents are British immigrants and only became Canadians after I was born. They would’ve done it sooner, but they were still test-driving the country. Since neither of my parents was educated in English in Québec, I’m not eligible to attend an English school. La loi 101 – the Language Law. A way around it would’ve been for my parents to have sent me to private school, but they don’t go for posh elitist nonsense. So that’s how I ended up pretty much one-hundred-percent bilingual – living in an English home and going to school all my life in French. The best of both, I suppose. When I speak French, no one would guess I’m English – my accent’s spot on. Well, my father insists I have a mid-Atlantic accent sometimes, like when I meet someone new. Francophones only know I’m English when I tell them my name, Spencer Roache, although I avoid saying my last name to Anglos so I don’t have to hear the exterminator jokes. It’s not even pronounced that way. Last year my English teacher made a dumb Kafka remark to me, although I didn’t know what he was talking about until I looked it up on Wikipedia.

    Had I wanted to come out to the world and his dog, Québec was certainly the place to do it. I had no real reason not to other than I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I was already the token Anglo at school. I didn’t need gay added to that shepherd’s pie.

    I saw J.F. again a few days later, putting up another one of those posters outside the bibliothèque. He was wearing a multi-coloured tie-dyed T-shirt and frayed jeans that went wide at the bottoms. And a headband. Seriously.

    I’d like to say he was re-inventing the style, making it trendy again with a few new twists thrown in, but his clothes merely looked old like they were found in a second-hand store. Maybe someone was unfairly tear-gassed at a riot in 1969 wearing that outfit, but how wrong would it be to gas someone who’d wear that today?

    Like usual, I had on jeans and one of my one-word T-shirts. Whimsy.

    J.F. chewed on his lip as he positioned and re-positioned the poster on the wall until it was just right. The meeting was the next day, and I don’t know why, but it worried me. I half-expected someone would stop him or something, even though that didn’t make sense. Surely he must have permission from the administration. Now I know I’d only been worried about the inevitability of my own coming out at school.

    I had to walk by him to go to the library, and when I pulled open the library door, he nodded at me.

    “Ça va?

    I nodded back, though it just as easily could’ve looked to him like a nervous tic or a mild stroke. A just-saw-a-hot-boy brain aneurism. I tried entering the library before I had fully opened the door, so I had to squeeze in like toothpaste in reverse. I’m sure he found that amusing as well.

    That night I lay in bed and argued with myself whether I would go to the meeting. The poster said straights were welcome too. If someone wondered why I was there, couldn’t I say I was doing my part for human rights? By morning I’d convinced myself I could go to the meeting and be assumed to be as straight as the next guy, without having to say anything that would betray who I really was. The gay me, I called it. Cowardice I could live with. Hypocrisy, not so much.

    Self-delusion was something else altogether.

 

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HarperCollins Wrote

Your writing is quite strong and there are many lovely turns of phrase that made me nod appreciatively as I was reading. It’s clear you are exceptionally observant, and the insights you offer into, especially, the Quebec culture are fascinating. However, at times the length and frequency of these asides begin to slow the narrative, particularly near the beginning where you are establishing your characters. I think in many cases that although your explanations are genuinely interesting, they are not always needed. Yet if I were to edit down or out as many of these descriptive asides as I would like to, I think we would be left with an even shorter story than we have now. Thus, my number one recommendation for you is to take a look at your plot and figure out what else you can add to it —what secondary plot line — that will spur the pacing onward.

The storyline here, as you see, is only meaty enough to sustain what seems to be a novella or a long short story. If you want to extend this into a book, I believe you need more action. The reason I am suggesting this course is because YA publishing doesn’t often veer into short stories or novellas, and thus I don’t feel there is much chance for publication with what you have now, despite its good writing.

Specific points: It starts off a little rocky, with a lot of facts being thrown out and a shaky grasp at Spencer’s narrative style, creating a bit of a distance between narrator and reader. I’d suggest adding a lot more action and dialogue to pull the reader into the story right off the bat. Later on you do hit your stride, and the reading becomes much quicker. And as I mentioned, your writing itself is quite strong, which is a pleasure to encounter.

There’s a nice balance of humor and seriousness in your manuscript, and the delicate issues are handled with a sense of realism. One thing the book may be missing is an overt antagonist. There aren’t really any characters wishing the Rainbow Coalition ill-will. This is in many ways refreshing—reading of a more progressive society—but I’m wondering if it is depriving the story of conflict. (Of course, the twist at the end may be an example of conflict—but it comes so near the end, and is resolved rather bloodlessly, that I’m not sure if it fully counts.)

Competitive titles I thought of in the American market are David Levithan’s 'Boy Meets Boy' and Brent Hartinger’s 'Geography Club'.
At its core this feels like a coming-of-age tale; Spencer’s high school crush feels relatable even for readers who may not identify with Spencer’s orientation. However, my overall note is to add a secondary plot line to open up the world of this book and to draw in additional readers; and to go back through your descriptive paragraphs in a rather ruthless frame of mind to see what is truly lending color, and what is slowing the reader down. I wish you the best of luck!

The Peff wrote 1780 days ago

Well-paced, the story flows very naturally. Spencer is a likeable narrator, with enough quirks and flaws to make him believable. A convincing teenage voice without being too wordy or too full of slang. As a native Englisher, I did think his dad's "cockney" was a bit over-the-top, but, then, you did point out how he exaggerated his speech for effect, so I could forgive you this! Also, to address the comment left by others, I did not find the Quebecois slang at all alienating. It was unobtrusive to me, and helped give a "flavour" to the novella.

I had read the comments left by others before the novel itself, so was expecting a "twist" at the end, but let me say that I wasn't expecting the story to be resolved the way it was! And the "twist" I thought I had figured out early on in the book proved to completely wrong!

Reading this work, I think you must feel passionately about issues of tolerance, and I think this is an intelligent and elegant strike against prejudice, that doesn't sacrifice readability in the name of "issues."

Simply wonderful.

Raya wrote 1786 days ago

Michael,

THE LAST COMING OUT STORY is an amazing tale of teenage coming out. It is intimate without being embarrassing. Add to that the Quebecois touch, it seems original and very compelling. Right off the bat, I am in Spencer (Spen-sair)'s corner. And I immediately like J.F. as well. Wonderful characterizations. I too lived in Montreal for a number of years and was an Anglo at a time when it wasn't entirely safe to be one. I too learned French with barely an accent, so it was doubly enchanting to read what Spencer had gone through on this side as well, being the only Anglo boy in a Francophone school.

Two things bothered me, however. The first is the extensive use of French words. While I understood them, I wonder how many Anglos reading this story will. It depends on your market, I suppose, but I know my husband, who is American, would stop reading after seeing so many of them. I don't know the solution, since the use of these words also gives the story its enchantingly French flavour. I know that you have explained many of them by referring to them in a different say...what I mean is you would use for instance adjoint and then say in the next sentence, this vice-principal is such and such. So the non-Francophone would know that adjoint means vice-principal. Perhaps you could do this with all the French words...for instance, arc-en-ciel - this is not readily apparent as rainbow to the English-speaking person (as la chappelle could be discerned as the chapel). It might make it a little more cumbersome too. Like I said, I don't really know the solution.

The other thing that bothered me is the inexplicable switch from narrative past tense to the present tense in a couple of places in Chapter 2. It seems to me that it would read less jarringly if it was all in the narrative past tense.

Despite those two small things, which can be fixed, the book is outstanding...in its punctuation and layout, as well as content. Extremely enjoyable and very compelling and touching. I would like to see it published. Great job! Shelved!!

Sandra Bell Kirchman
WITCHCANERY

M William Anderson wrote 1803 days ago

Michael, I don't really know what to say to your book. Normally I'm quite effusive about other books I read, keeping an open-mind as to whether I would normally read that genre or not, but also because I don't want to discourage the Authonomer from carrying on.

With your story I don't have anything to say. No descriptions of the prose; no analysis of the characters. Nothing.

Except to tell you it touched me, I felt your story running through the very core of who I am, the memory of me. And by doing that I simply can't express my feelings adequately or do your tale justice. My thanks to you for having the courage to write that story, and for allowing me the honour of reading it.

You have my backing with my sincerest and humblest appreciation.

tadhgfan wrote 1861 days ago

Well Michael... You made me cry!
And, in my opinion, if a writer can push a reader to tears then he's done good!
This was incredibly moving. Unexpected in the end. I read the entire thing and was glad for the experience. You wrote with such easy and expression that I was carried right on through. I learned things about Quabec and life there. I don't know French but got through the dialogue ok. I think you wrote this with great passion for the HATE that exists in the world. Very well done. I noticed one spot with a missing quote, but could not be bothered to stop and site it. This was just wonderful.

Gina

C.I. DeMann wrote 1552 days ago

michael,

this is a good read. a very interesting look into both the life of a gay teen and life in a Quebec school. you have a very good way with words and have developed some good characters. I was happy to see that you've been published in a short story collection. nice to know that authonomy writers move on to the big time. good luck with all!

I've written a YA story of my own and (shh, don't tell anyone) one of the characters is closeted gay. but i'm not saying who. maybe you can figure it out.

C.I. DeMann
Writing Home

C.I. DeMann wrote 1552 days ago

michael,

this is a good read. a very interesting look into both the life of a gay teen and life in a Quebec school. you have a very good way with words and have developed some good characters. I was happy to see that you've been published in a short story collection. nice to know that authonomy writers move on to the big time. good luck with all!

I've written a YA story of my own and (shh, don't tell anyone) one of the characters is closeted gay. but i'm not saying who. maybe you can figure it out.

C.I. DeMann
Writing Home

david brett wrote 1719 days ago

Isn't this true. have not some others suggested you have a problem with length?.... My worthless suggestion would be - find a good model (Andre Gide, Symphonie Pastorale e.g or Benjamin Constant ( I assume you have good French) and see what they do in 30k words. Then go for a finished, perfect novella which will not get published easily: and then start another. Your overall scheme seems to me really good, but publishers have pretty queer ideas about what is significant, you know, because it is such a business. And that's a good point HC makes about lack of an overt antagonist. Then remember "Now Barrabas was a publisher...." Good luck DB

fifi wrote 1726 days ago

I'm really surprised about how much I've been enjoying this when I wasn't expecting to (somewhat over too many 'high school' re write!) But this is really good engaging writing.
Shelved & I'll come back & read the rest as I want to read on. (got to the end of chapter 3 so far, but have to go and do things now :-) )

pictureingrey wrote 1739 days ago

What a wonderful book - I was with Spencer every step of the way, following his and J.F.'s journey. He is an excellent narrator, full of charisma and with a definite, clear voice. You treat the issues you write about incredibly well and I certainly had tears in my eyes by the end of it.
Apologies for such a short comment, but I could easily gush some more about how much I enjoyed this. Keep up the excellent work!
~pictureingrey/Phoebe

LeeHodges wrote 1745 days ago

Hi Michael

Sorry that it’s taken so long to get to Last Coming Out; I suppose that now you’ve made the “desk”, my opinions will not matter that much, but here’s my thoughts anyway!

I must admit to being thrown straight away; the narrative starts by ‘telling’ us about the gay club only to jump in the next sentence to ‘show’ us real-time outside of the ceremony. I’m having to read and re-read this to see if I’ve misread it, but it seems not.

“Tall boys are worth the climb” – I liked this line!

I like your voice here, it skips along quickly and easily, with a nice dose of humour thrown in. It’s good to get an early grounding for who Spencer is and despite the amount of background that’s thrown in, I don’t feel overwhelmed by it. Although, I noticed that there was nothing mentioned about his recognition of his own sexuality: when it ‘started’, how he felt about it. Not a criticism, just an observation – I think knowing his take on his feelings may help me understand better what he’s going through when he’s observing J.F.

Unfortunately I’m so short on time that I can’t read any further than chapter one, which is a shame as I always like to read at least three but that’s the way things are at the moment. It’s a great start, Michael, and I wish you all the best with your HC report!

Cheers,

Lee
(already backed before I posted my comments)

G.S. Williams wrote 1746 days ago

Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this, but it's been a busy month.

Now that I'm reading: the first chapter indicates you have a very strong narrative style, with an excellent command of your narrator's voice. However, it's so confident and fluid that I don't for a second feel like I'm reading the thoughts of a teenager. His concerns about fitting in and homophobia are normal enough, but he writes like an educated adult. I admire your ability with prose, but it interferes with my belief in the character.

But that's just the first chapter, I'm still reading. :)

Neek1981 wrote 1746 days ago

I like your narrator's voice. He's honest, funny, and so...young! He's a breath of fresh air. The way he describes J.F. and people in general reminds me of people I know. I think a lot of people will identify with this voice--both hetero and homosexuals. Shelved. Good luck. :)

Foxy Crystalwood wrote 1749 days ago

Well-paced and obviously, well thought out novella about a pretty common subject of late. But I found myself invested in the story. It is easy to see why this is such a quick riser. Best of luck with it!

Wilf Morgan wrote 1750 days ago

Hi - a little late in getting my comments to you - but you made it to the ED without them, anyway!

Got to say, I really liked this - the narrative is brilliant. Quirky, snappy, witty, engaging, the kind you could just sit and listen to all day talking about whatever came into his head. It's so good, you get away with dropping various bits of info in there that I otherwise would have found boring and slowing the pace of the story down but instead found interesting and adding to the atmosphere (e.g. talking about various laws / rules in Quebec).

I shelved this on the basis of a quick glance of the first couple of paragraphs and I'm glad I wasn't disappointed with my snap-judgement! Good luck in the 'great beyond'..! W

Efadul Huq wrote 1751 days ago

This is a very important story and has been presented in a tight, entertaining, easy way. You have my backing.

Lorelli wrote 1753 days ago

Hi Michael

I only saw your message this morning so have only had the chance to read the first few chapters - but so far i'm really engaged. Vivid narration and interesting setting have me hooked :-)

It's shelved - although i guess you may not need that as i see you've already got that fabulous gold star so many, many congratulations.

Lorelli

Justis Call wrote 1754 days ago

The Last Coming Out Story

I like Spencer, I like his idiosyncracies. This novella is interesting with its French references/words and the twists it presents. Having only begun the book, I believe it to be something that will be watched, scored, and challenged in most venues -- which is good.

Best to you!
Justis
Prestidigitations

Cealarenne wrote 1754 days ago

Michael, I know this is late in the day, but you've got a great style, and a great book. I don't think you need my shelf space, but I offer it gladly.
Cealarenne

jumes wrote 1754 days ago

I've just read chapt 1 ....and I know that I'm going to like this ...so I'm shelving this book and I hope to read more soon..
Julie
Thank-you for your kind comments on my Dad's book ,'Never Again'.As you probably know , its very difficult to have to face certain memories.....especially after spending years trying to bury them .I'm very proud of his work .
Good Luck with your book ......

aislingb wrote 1754 days ago

Hi, I just read the first chapter of this as the time is nearly up for the editors desk. This is light and well-paced. The dialogue is excellent. I especially liked the line 'Tall boys are worth the climb'. I think this will turn into a very good story once I've read further. A

Authorfiction wrote 1754 days ago

This will be a great book for teens who are in the same place as your MC,I think it is a great read and well written you are making it to the editors desk my friend!!!

BHK wrote 1754 days ago

Quite different from my regular reading material but thoroughly enjoyable and tightly written.

JANVIER wrote 1754 days ago

Hello Michael,

Just from reading the first two chapters and enjoyed every one of them . I have to applaud you for your excellent descriptions, rich choice of words and for the smoothness of your writing. They enabled the characters to be very true to life and make the plot easy to follow.

Overall, this is a well written deserving a spot on my shelf.

all the best.

Janvier (Flash of the Sun)

Andrew Foley Jones wrote 1754 days ago

taken so long to get to this...can t add much to the myriad of comments below...on shelf with huge applause...

just4kix wrote 1754 days ago

I had very little time to read your book, but from my read of the first chapter I can see that the quality of your writing is good enough to deserve a backing. You have an engaging MC and I'm sure that YA's will be able to identify/sympathise with his problems.
Good Luck
Just4kix

The Bevster wrote 1754 days ago

Hi,

What can I say that hasn't already been said.... probably not a lot!! This is the type of story that just flows so easily and I just wish I had more time to read.

I love your humour - "Tall guys are worth the climb!" - oh yes indeedy!!

I warmed to your characters straight away, easily imaginable (especially J.F.)

I so hope you stay on the ED in the next few hours - this book deserves to be on it!!

Love Bev x

Peter Carlyle wrote 1754 days ago

Gripping first paragraph. Leaves the reader wanting to know why. Always a good hook. Gives me an insight into Quebec, a place I've never been. Parts of this are amusing. There is internal conflict or maybe soul searching, but tempered by liberalism. Spencer is a strong and likeable character. Putting this on my WL.

Peter.

Morven wrote 1754 days ago

Read it again just to confirm my support for this book. Written from the soul with great dignity, charm and wit.
Spencer is an engaging, likeable and totally believable main character who became more real with every page.
A book with a great commercial future if given the chance.

Yasmin S. wrote 1754 days ago

Great beginning, (didn't have time to read more as there is not much time left before the end of the month ;)
your text flows very nicely, very well written and alive, I was immediately in the school with your Spencer. Curious to know more about what will happen, will have to wait til it is published I guess.
Good luck,
Yasmin

Dolcissima wrote 1754 days ago

Hi Michael, I was actually working my way through my WL and had already started on this when I noticed your message so came back to read some more.

Very clean manuscript, easy to read. You write excellently Michael. I do not see any reason why this shouldn't do well.

Shelved!

Gerri
Internet Liaisons

aross wrote 1754 days ago

Nice narrative flow, you handle Spencer's characterisation deftly, and the storyline builds up at a good pace.
Shelved, and good luck.
Cheers,
Andrew

Katrina Twitchett wrote 1754 days ago

Hi Michael,

Thought I'd look in as it's the last day of the month and I see you wrote me a note.

I have had a read and I must say that TLCOS seems full of flavour and depth. Not sickly and adolescent as some can be, this has a grounded quality that makes for smooth reading. I like the French flecks, they add a realism to the story and I assume the rest of the novel pans out (I'm afraid I had limited time and didn't manage all nine chapters.)

The characterisation is good and it feels honest. Happy to shelve.

I wish you luck,

Kat

Armen Chakmakjian wrote 1754 days ago

Michael,

This is a very well written and clean manuscript. Not exactly the typical thing I would read, but your writing style kept me hooked. The only thing I would have suggested is a bit more explanation of the Quebec stuff. Not sure if you ever read any Robertson Davies, but he went into the whole French/English Canadian in each of his books (ad absurdam at some points): etymologies, nuances of behavior et cetera, Catholic vs Protestant. It rounded out the feel. I think you touch on these in the first two chapters, but most people would not know what you are referring to.

Good Luck with your work. Shelved.

Armen (Urtaru)

FunkyKitty wrote 1754 days ago

Hi. I love this. It's a lovely read and it's very believable, especailly since I think pretty much every one has had that 'seen a hot boy but don't want to be embarrassed' moment. I also know what it feels like to be totally surrounded by people talking French while you're living an English life (I did an exchange program and spend half a term in a French school with my best friend) and it's very realistic.

Anyway, great to read, lovely characters,and there's not much more to say. It deserves a place on my shelf.
Kitten

benrichardm wrote 1754 days ago

This story flows very well and the writing is a pleasure to read. Your narrator is likeable with his flaws an' all, and I can see why it appeals to many people - a very egnaging story!

Shelved, Ben

cfarer wrote 1754 days ago

Hi Michael. Thanks for looking at my book. I've started reading yours, and will be picking up on it again.
cfarer

Jeffrey Miller wrote 1754 days ago

It looks like it’s going to be another nail-biting end of the month for the top 5. Here’s hoping The Last Coming Out Story remains in the ‘in crowd’. Well written and deserving.

Jeffrey Miller
The Binding Returned

Valya wrote 1754 days ago

Read and shelved this, Michael. It's wonderful! Best of luck to you.

CallumC wrote 1755 days ago

Michael,

I cannot criticize your writing as it is, as far as I can tell flawless. The narration of the story would also fall into this category. I would have liked to have seen a bit more dialogue, but I have no doubt that treat is yet to come. Backed.

CallumC.

hajp49 wrote 1755 days ago

What can I say? Just excellent all around. Your story just draws a reader in. Your narrator seems to have a genuine, authentic voice. The writing is solid and well done. I like it that you 'pepper' your narrative with French words. It gives authenticity and places the story solidly in Quebec. Just a great job. This definitely is on my shelf. John

KostasAu wrote 1755 days ago


I don’t know, Michael,

I remember reading the first chapter before, and fount that it wasn’t for me, although I fully support its premise.

I understand it is a novella, but even so, it should have a little more dialogue. I remember reading one of the editors’ feedbacks that said, “Dialogue should not be underestimated.”

Wish you all the best with it. Maybe they will see it with a better eye than mine.

Nitpicking:
In you opening sentence, shouldn’t it be: “The biggest queer in our school is….”


Kostas

Ian Mayfield wrote 1755 days ago

Not usually my cup of tea (apologies for sounding like Spencer's dad there), but I read the whole thing and enjoyed it immensely. Nice ironic title and an even more ironic twist at the end, even if I saw it coming a mile away!

J.F. is an inspiring character, but for me the heart of this novella is Spencer's journey from being a bundle of teenage insecurities to a young man with purpose. His development and maturation is completely convincing. I also love his dry humour, his one-liners - which you wisely don't fall into the trap of overdoing - and your affectionate portrayal of his parents and his wry relationship with them.

Couldn't really find any weak points with this. There was the occasional turn of phrase which suggested translation from French, but this was entirely apposite with regard to the setting of the novella, and in fact could perhaps have been ramped up a bit.

Great stuff, and I'm sure it won't be long before you find yourself in print... perhaps as the 'at least one' gay book in the school library! Shelved.

KarlV wrote 1755 days ago

The strength of your writing justifies a place on my bookshelf. So that's where you are. I've been hooked into your story by the power of your words and for me storytelling is all about the power of words. Will check out more soon.

GillyGilly wrote 1755 days ago

Michael
This is good stuff. Get your chin up. Be proud. Don't quit. This is superb. My wife read it and enjoyed it too. She told me if I didn't back you I would have to sleep in the spare room. Shelved. Not because of my wife. I enjoyed this and your comment to Poppet. Dig in and start fighting with the rest of them.

Come on.

JohnnySix wrote 1755 days ago

Michael -- still reading, but backed in the middle of the second chapter. I'm sure with just south of 500 comments, people have already pointed out that one hyphen in the first chapter, or the comma they found to be a bit odd, so I'll say only this:

Looking at your pitch, this didn't look like something I'd consider in my wheelhouse, normally. However, as soon as I started reading, I loved it. This has the potential to pull in a ton of readers (hope it gets good jacket copy when it gets published)!

Shelved, of course.

HyalineBlue wrote 1755 days ago

What I love about this is that the topic is important, and current, but the book isn't self-important. Too often I've read things that deal with current issues that have a certain self-conciousness about them--yours doesn't. It's just a well-written, good story with a backbone.

You paint high school well--I remember high school almost a little too well as you describe little bits and pieces of Spencer's life in its halls. My only concern in these first paragraphs is that there's a lot of backstory--and while I think that's good and pretty necessary for non-Quebecois, perhaps parts explaining Loi 101 and other bits could be shorter and more interspersed with Spenser''s experiences.

Also--he makes fun of Hot Boy's outfits a lot--is he attracted to him despite this? Does it make him unsure? Is he thinking "Hot but crazy-pants?" Believe me, I was laughing out loud at that second one, but after a second pass I found myself wondering how Spencer felt.

All in all, though, great writing, good pacing, relateable character. Shelved :)

Isabelle Adams wrote 1755 days ago

Good book, amusing in places and serious in others. I was sure I'd commented before, but maybe I was wrong. I hope this helps you to get to the ED. Shelved.

Nietsa wrote 1755 days ago

Michael,
I sped through the first two chapters and I think you really have a good story here, one that will reach a young audience on a personal level. Your writing is very fluid and snappy, the flow never bogs down, and even though the dialogue is sparse, I am enjoying the POV. I felt very comfortable as an American reading a Canadian story, you never lost me once. You are handling a sometimes sensitive issue with grace and humor, Spencer is believable as a teen as well as gay. Congratulations on a great piece YA ficltion, good luck in the race for the ED desk, shelved.

maryinflorida wrote 1756 days ago

Michael,
I laughed out loud at several lines, including the perfect punch line, "Well, we don't date any, if that's what you're worried about." This feels so much like high school it stings with a bittersweet smack. If you don't make the top five this month, you surely will in July. Best wishes, as I shelve your "Last Coming Out Story."
Mary

markhenderson wrote 1756 days ago

Michael - I've finally found the time to read your novella, and what a delight it is. The story is compassionate without sentiment, revealing intimate feelings without making any reader (irrespective of proclivity) uncomfortable, and the narrative pace is superbly controlled. The style is perfectly suited to the narrator and the setting, and the characterisation and dialogue are natural and convincing. Both the narrator, Spencer, and the excellent J-F are brilliantly drawn, and the more minor characters (not least Spencer's father) are also very engaging. I particularly enjoyed the leavening of humour, which is always well placed - just enough of it, effective because it isn't overdone, but definitely needed in a story of this kind. I challenge anyone to guess the ending - and your closing paragraphs are close to perfection.

There are a few very minor errors (the odd verb tense isn't quite right) but an editor will make short work of those.

Few entries on Authonomy shout out to me "This is eminently publishable as it stands", but your novella does. It's a genuinely accomplished piece of work, written with real authority.

Mark.

Dora Hickman wrote 1756 days ago

Outside my usual genre but I enjoyed it. A good read with a place on my shelf. Good luck with the top 5.
Dora.

S. A. Sayuri wrote 1756 days ago

Very, very good. I enjoyed it. Best of luck getting to the desk.

Cait wrote 1756 days ago

Last Coming Out Story

Michael, I’ve never read a novel about gays but I did read and make comments on this story ages ago and thought I had already backed it. Can’t find the comments now but I do remember wondering (and I think it was near the end of the book) if J F might have bisexual tendencies as he did cuddle up that night with Spencer? There were a couple of other questions also but I can't remember them now.

I’ll pop it on my shelf for a spin and if I can locate the last comments I’ll post them.

Sláinte,

Cáit (Muckers)

Cameron Chapman wrote 1756 days ago

Hi Michael,

As promised, here I am prior to the end of the month. I've read your entire book. You've got an interesting story here, one that kept me reading right through to the end (not something that happens too often on this site). I have very mixed feelings about it, though.

Spencer is a great character and a great narrator. The use of first person works really well in this story. I was pulled in and really cared about what happened.

The overall pacing of the story is excellent.

Be careful of tense. There are places where it switches from past to present and back to past in very short time spans and it can be awkward. At the beginning of the novel I think the Quebecois slang is a little much. You might consider using a bit less. It let up in later chapters and was less intrusive. Of course, this is coming from someone who knows absolutely no French...(sad since I live less than 20 miles from the Quebec border).

The scene toward the end where J.F. tells Spencer what he's planning on doing felt very unrealistic to me. I know this is based on a true story, so I don't know if this actually happened or not, but it seems incredibly far-fetched to me. No matter how compassionate an 18-year-old (or thereabouts) straight boy is, I don't see him lying in bed practically naked with a boy he knows is gay and knows has a crush on him, kissing him and then coming out as being straight. It just didn't ring true to me. Whether it actually happened or not, I think a lot of people would find it hard to believe. Truth is stranger than fiction and all that.

There were some author asides that pulled me out of the story in places. Can't think of any specifics off the top of my head, but there were quite a few instances.

Overall, though, this book kept me reading and that's my most important criteria for putting something on my shelf. So there it will be and good luck this month!

Cameron