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review 2018-06-25 10:35
Boy Erased - not really a Memoir by Garrard Conley
Boy Erased: A Memoir - Garrard Conley

This memoir should have started at least ten years later and told us how the young man who once signed himself up for "ex-gay therapy" (which we all know is pure bullshit) turned into a person who at least calls himself a gay man. His epilogue and bits of the memoir proper hint at the real story, but sadly it's just a sketch. I understand being so traumatized that you can't hold memories or be sure what is your memory and what is your intellect saying "this must be the way it happened," but I'm not entirely sure that's why this memoir is sketchy.

 

Ten years after an 8-day outpatient visit to Love In Action, the author hears his one-time group leader on a book/apology tour admitting that the therapy was nonsense. This, understandably, raises real anger. How can this guy with his vanity press book be on NPR and so cavalier about the lives he played havoc with? And this brings an aspiring novelist to write a "memoir" about those eight outpatient days. One gets the slight feeling, after reading the book, that part of the anger was that this guy was able to hawk his book on NPR while Conley was still struggling in various ways with no book or tour, but that's not the whole story, just a thought.

 

As someone who has done many outpatient stays (and several inpatient, locked ward ones too,) honestly, I doubt I could write a book about any of those visits. Now, my stays were overall more of a plus than a minus, and only rarely were they more traumatic than what brought me in. They also weren't trying to erase my person or self. Could any of us write a memoir about eight days? Maybe. There's just very little to recommend this book because nothing much happens and the author does very little to help us understand what exactly, beyond the horrific idea of conversion therapy -- which we already get -- what exactly traumatized him.

 

He makes a point in the epilogue that liberal America may not understand what would push someone to deny their sexuality just to "fit in." (He doesn't say that, but that's the truth I think he was pushing toward.) Many liberal lgbtq people have just as much trouble coming out. They don't typically seek this particular type of therapy, but many a liberal kid has gone into therapy at least to work through the fear and other emotions involved in coming out. Many kids are dead today rather than face up to our cultural disdain of anything less than toxic masculinity. You don't have to be an Evangelical to understand this is a tough time for many people, and only in recent years has coming out become slightly less than terrifying and often traumatizing.

 

As trite as this sounds to me: change is tough. When we finally allow our "outsides" to match our inner selves, to become more authentic, that can be excruciating even while it's healthy and holds the promise of a much better life - eventually. And that's true for anyone. It inevitably involves losing people and places that were comfortable and often affirming in other ways, not to mention our homes. Very often it involves estrangement of sorts with at least some, if not all, family members. I wanted to hear about the growth, or if not that, at least understand what created a traumatic reaction so bad that he's blocked it out. What I read was a family based in love. If they didn't express it fine, but they were there -- before, during and after (the final sentence in the epilogue is wonderful in showing this purely,) for this young man. When he finally left mid-eighth day, his mother didn't question him, she simply drove the two of them away. (She'd been staying with him in a hotel during the outpatient assessment.) That's a serious blessing, having your family stick by you, especially when their religion, culture, job (his father is a pastor) and upbringing tell them to do something very different.

 

My impression was that a lot of the trauma involved expectations -- both perceived and real -- that he'd internalized and struggled coming to terms with. That anger was displaced onto the therapy he sought out and willingly subjected himself to. He wanted to be someone other than who he was/is. THAT is the trauma. And that would make a much better memoir than incredibly florid, rambling prose and unstructured random memories (not about the therapy) ostensibly about an 8-day outpatient assessment. Also a serious thanks to his God that he was strong enough to see through the bullshit and walk out before someone compelled other drastic and inhumane measures we've now learned happened in many of these places.

 

One final thought, Love In Action and its parent corporation is, thankfully, now gone and very few similar programs exist in the US, but worryingly, they've taken their circus on the road to other countries (notably Uganda, complete with laws and real danger for lgbtq people)  - something the author mentions in one sentence and doesn't seem to see as a problem. "At least it's not me anymore" is not a pleasant trait in anyone, no matter their story.

 

I believe Garrard Conley has a real story to tell, about how he started hating himself, how he couldn't see a way for his authentic self to fit with his family and community, the fear and existential dread that must have accompanied many days, how fundamental Christian beliefs offer no room for difference or questions of any kind, how the fear of ruining his "eternal soul" has haunted him long past his heroic walk out of the treatment center's doors, how his family managed to overcome pressure from their church and community and whole lives to come to a place where this book could be written with his parents' blessing, how he functions as a gay man in the world when he was a kid from a very restrictive and fundamentalist background, etc etc: both the logistics and the emotional sides are interesting and important -- these are the types of stories that save lives. While I think the promise of a horror-show called "ex-gay therapy" is probably what gave this book the juice to get published, the real story still hasn't been told. 

 

I really wish this man well. I know he's lived through some very tough things, but I don't know any of that from reading this book, and there's the rub. We shouldn't require people to morph bad moments into freak shows for them to tell their stories. He will write another book. I'm betting my life on that one. I'm sure he's writing as I type. He's wanted to be a writer and has an MFA in creative writing. I just want him to write from a more fearless place next time. 

 

 

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text 2018-02-08 03:31
Probably getting this in the near future
Erased, Vol. 1 - Kei Sanbe

I'm tempted to buy it so that I don't have to deal with waiting for each volume via ILL, but I need to remember that I have zero shelf space. So, ILL it is. Maybe after I get through all four volumes of Yukarism?

 

I'm currently watching Netflix's live action TV series based on this. There are moments when some of the acting is unconvincing, but mostly I'm enjoying it, even though I already knew going in who the murderer was. I'd have actually preferred my introduction to the series to be the anime, which I'd seen (spoiler-filled) clips of and thought looked gorgeous, but I'm not buying that at its current price of at least $15 per 25-minute episode.

 

The basic premise of this series: a twenty-something loner has the ability to go back in time and make situations that originally got someone killed work out for the better. It isn't something he really has control over, and he's usually only able to go back a few minutes into the past. Then his mother is murdered and he becomes a suspect. The one thing he wants most is to fix whatever it was that led to her being killed, so he's suddenly transported 15 years into the past, to a time in his childhood when several kids he knew were kidnapped and killed. Somehow those murders had something to do with his mother's death in the present. He thinks that if he can figure out how to stop them, then he can save his mom.

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text 2018-01-15 05:35
Boy Erased: A Memoir - Garrard Conley

Given the subject matter, I knew this was going to piss me off in certain ways but have gotten so frustrated about at least five or so times and I am only 15% into the freaking book!

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review 2017-07-15 01:23
Do We Trust Our Memories As A Child?
Erased, Vol. 1 - Kei Sanbe

Mangas have been a medium of many good stories. From family, romance, comedy, drama to fantasy, science fiction, horror and thriller mystery, it takes a good writer and an artist to craft out an interesting plot to keep the readers kept up following a series. While there are many well-known titles in the market that commonly in love with around the world (like NarutoBleachDragonball or even Doraemon),there are some titles that is under the radar that is good, that is worth reading. One of them was Erased, which I had finished reading earlier this morning.

 

Erased is actually a science-fiction mystery thriller short series about a 29-year old man (Satoru Fujinuma) who dream of being a manga-artist may not come true and has to make-ends-meet as a pizza delivery motorcyclist has an ability to go back in time a few minutes before some thing bad happens. He calls it Revival and this ability it seems is not within his control. He doesn't like it because it brought unwanted attention from people he knows... until one night, when he return home, was the night his mother was murdered. Wanting to stop the murderer from killing his mother, he tries to use 'Revival' to go back in time... only he went back 18 years of his life as a young boy in 1988. Why that particular year? It was the year that a murder case happened that changes every thing from the life he lead that he felt unhappy with.

 

Complicated right? Some how, I felt the plot was quite similar to some stories I have read (I can't place it but I know the similarity was there) but what was more interesting, was the depth of the plot that creator Kei Sanbehad created that makes this manga series worth picking up, and its not because of the cover (which was I first attracted with). Erased isn't any thing new to offer but it was the depth that drawn me the complications and slightly dark characters that I felt worth going for. I like the part where when one is an adult, our memories as a child can be misleading that can't be trusted. Especially, when Satoruwanted to save a girl from being murdered, unsure if he had changed any thing in the past or were they still the same. Further more, his relationship with his mother plays well if whether memories can be trusted if they indeed had a good relationship and things that we can't remember is realistic. Although for me, I do find the murder mystery part did not do a good job in making as a goal, it was what Satoru can or cannot remember that make's the mystery a little more interesting on why he can or can't remember.

 

I am sure after reading the first volume (consist of two mangas) I will be following up this series until the last to find out how it ends but my only hope is that it ends proper. Like most manga titles, there are not many really Japanese writer/artist ends their series well and its always half-hearted that leaves some thing of any good desire.

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review 2015-08-21 02:40
Erased
Erased - K. Webster,Elle Christensen

Joss is pretty happy with her life having her dream job, a boyfriend and a very protective father. Everything is great until suddenly it's not. She is kidnapped with every trace of her erased like she never existed. She's sent to live with someone she's never met and given a new identity because a person she has known and loved her entire life wants a password that she doesn't know! Her father has the password but will not give it up so Joss becomes Jill and moves on with her new life.

Derek Slade gives Joss/Jill a new life with a place to live and a job in his bar. He agreed to give Jill what she needed to start over and also to protect her. They didn't expect to fall for each other but when they did, it made everything tougher for them. What happens when this is over and Jill goes back to being Joss?

Erased is an enjoyable story with moments that made me feel happy as well as sad. I would have liked more description on Slade's back story. I guess I like everything spelled out since I don't have much of an imagination. I didn't understand Uncle Mick's connection to him. I was also confused about what Gideon was doing (double crossing Bruce?).

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