Cannonball Read V: American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage
American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics is the best memoir-style book I’ve read this year, and probably ever. It’s a mix of very personal and very political stories used to discuss issues like gay rights, same sex marriage, religion, death with dignity and feminism. It made me tear up twice, and had both me and my husband laughing, shouting and really thinking about the points being made.
Instead of reading the rest of my review you should just open a new tab (or run to your local independent book store) and purchase it.
Okay, have you done that? Awesome.
What, two sentences isn’t enough for you? Fine. If you still need some convincing, read on.
My husband and I listened to the audio version (read by the fantastic Mr. Savage himself) while driving across Scotland and Ireland on our honeymoon. Given how much time is spent on the Catholic Church and the conservative Christian fight against civil marriage rights, it seemed both appropriate and a little naughty. If you’re not familiar with Mr. Savage’s work, he’s been a sex columnist for the Stranger for years, and hosts a great weekly sex advice podcast (look up Savage Love - it’s wonderful). He is also one of the great minds behind Hump, the amateur porn film festival held in Seattle, Olympia and Portland each fall. He is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, and, probably most importantly to so many, he and his husband founded the It Gets Better Project, which brings words of hope and comfort to LGBT kids around the world. If you’re not familiar with the It Gets Better Project, get yourself to the internet .
With chapter headings ranging from “At a Loss” to “Bigot Christmas”, Mr. Savage addresses the death of his mother, the fight against anti-gay hate groups, and some simple rules for when cheating might actually be okay. It’s made even more interesting set against the backdrop of his Catholic upbringing. He makes extremely well-reasoned arguments, addressing issues that so many are passionate about with logic and determination. Yes, I agree with him on most everything, but wow, I can’t imagine how those who disagree with him could even begin to logically address most of his points. They are just that good.
In only one part did I find myself somewhat disagreeing with Mr. Savage, and that was a point in his Straight Pride Parade (e.g. Halloween) discussion. I won’t go into detail here, but he and I differ on whether the teeny tiny costume for women thing is a problem. I think his argument (that it isn’t) was mostly fought against a straw man. I support women making the choice of what to wear, and I do agree that too many people judge that choice. However, I thought that he failed to address the expectation that is created around that, and how when the only choices out there are sexy nurse, not only does that create some messed up expectations for women, but for what men expect to see. That’s not the worst issue to disagree on, and I think reasonable people can. But since I fawned over pretty much everything else I thought I should sneak this point of disagreement in there.
Finally, a warning: the book is filled with honest language that can be extremely foul at time. I certainly didn’t mind it, and found that his way of writing sounds extremely natural, but I know some people cringe when they hear someone say “suck my dick.” So, there you go. Mr. Savage is also clearly very progressive so the conservatives among you are likely not going to like the book - although you might find it interesting to see how his ‘side’ views things.
Now. Go get the book. Please!
(Note: Any revenue generated from purchases made through the amazon.com affiliate links
in this review will be donated in entirety to the American Cancer Society.)