I found it hard to choose what to read at Payot. My allotted reading time was only three minutes. I thought of reading the beginning of In Search of Lost Girls when the ageing author is beset with troubles, not the least of which is one of his characters giving him a hard time. But the extract was too long. Then I thought of reading the beginning of the second chapter with the enigmatic first meeting of Peter and Andrew. The length was OK, but I was hesitant, mainly because it’s a delicate moment that is best not plunged into abruptly in a public reading. Finally, at the last moment, I opted for a short extract a little later in the book. Huguette suggested using a more emotional moment. So I did. I have too admit that often when I read this piece out loud it brings tears to my eyes. Anyway, I read the part where Peter sings Blake and, judging from the people who came up to me afterwards, it went down well. I prefaced the extract by saying that you only need to know one thing, the two boys performing in the church are dressed as girls and if you want to know why, you have to read the book to find out. Here then is the beginning of the extract for you too read. Click here to read the whole extract.
(…) Standing next to Andrew, seated at the piano, it was a relief to have a small space around him in which to move freely without fiery hands groping at him. Concentrate, he told himself, or you’ll be singing “Tyger, Tyger burning bright…” instead of Jerusalem. He smiled at the thought, mentally thanking Mrs Greengage, his English teacher, for his growing knowledge of literature. When Andrew began to play the opening bars, Peter took a deep breath, relaxed his shoulders and neck and prepared to sing. (…) (Read on)
More about the Boy & Girl Saga
Boy & Girl – Twelve-year-old Peter secretly dresses as a girl. Imagine his delight when he finds himself in the head of a girl. Yet, despite his wild hopes, that girl is not him. She’s Kaitling, the daughter of a mage in a beleaguered world. Peter has his own problems when a vicious new girl at school threatens to reveal his girly ways. Becoming friends, Kaitlin and Peter join forces to do battle with those who oppose them.
In Search of Lost Girls – Dressed as a girl, Peter sets out in search of his soul-mate Kate who has been ripped from his arms and kidnapped. In his quest, he is hounded by fanatics bent on eliminating those who mess with gender. Meanwhile, Kate has been dumped in a nightmarish girls’ orphanage where she emerges as a decisive figure in the rescue of her fellow orphans. Will the two ever be together again?
We Girls – Retain his androgynous ambiguity or say goodbye to his girlish self, such is the existential choice that besets Peter. Circumstances, however, force both him and Kate to take up other challenges. By straddling the line between child and adult, between carefree creativity and weighty responsibility, between play and work, they find imaginative ways to confront far-reaching problems on which adults persistently turn a blind eye.
Colourful People – What happens when a boy who dresses as a girl, but has no wish to transition, is confronted with a boisterous crowd of transgender youth in a desperate search for a safe haven? The fierce will to be themselves despite the determined opposition of society is common to both the Lost Girls and the Colourful People. Not surprising then that they join forces and advance together. (Currently being written)