I used to dread the question: What’s your book about?
Um. It’s a kind of love story. (Red Audrey.) It’s a tragedy. About martyrdom. And family.(Field Guide.) Yes. Yes, way to pitch, Jill Malone. But now, I look forward to you asking because fuck, I’m excited. I’m so excited. Giraffe People is the book I hoped to write. The story I meant to tell you.
The one about being young and striving, about being human and messy, about the way childhood as military dependents felt like we were veterans, too. About the way love burns in that scathing, lovely way so that you’re aware, maybe for the first time, of your arm bones and your ribs, of the way your breath rushes in and out. You’re aware of the center of you. The relentless light.
Praise what you love. Praise it! We don’t have time to quibble and mumble to our shoes. I want you to read this book. I want to read this book to you. Remember what it felt like to be young. To want in that way before we knew better. To be free from knowing better. Remember how tentative love felt. How fragile. How we thought it was inexperience that made it feel so new, but really that was just love breaking us open the way love will.
Giraffe People will be in stores in three weeks. My wife says, “The novel has an adolescent protagonist, and is an internal coming-out story focusing on what it means to be queer in an evangelical family and also within the military culture during DADT.” And all of that’s true, but it’s also about the zing — the sonic, flaying zing — of being lit up the first time by that person. You know. That one.