The lives of two guys named Will Grayson intersect as they look for love, friendship, and fabulousity in the greater Chicago area.
The alternating chapters were so in the style of the two authors that I didn’t even have to check who had written which. Green’s Will is wordy, self-consciously clever, and full of elaborate references to Schroedinger’s cat (and he’s straight). Levithan’s Will is painfully lonely and full of anger — too much anger for me at first, until he started showing his classically Levithan sweet, tender center (and he’s gay).
Both men write witty books about believable, intelligent male characters, and this is no exception. Both also lean towards the optimistic — in the case of Levithan, so optimistic it makes your teeth hurt sometimes — and this is also no exception. His characters like grand gestures, and I’ll admit I’m a sucker for them myself in books. The end of this one made me think of the Buffy episode “The Prom,” in which it is revealed that Buffy’s oblivious classmates have, in fact, noticed how much effort she puts into saving their butts all the time. Dramatic displays of gratitude like that and the end of Will Grayson make me sniffly every time. (…Are Buffy references uselessly passe at this point? No, don’t tell me; I don’t want to know.)
I love how Levithan writes about depression in his Will. He makes it very, very clear that he isn’t just “feeling depressed” — it is who he is, at the core of every day. And yet the book is never bogged down in that; chronic depression like Will’s is an illness, not a mood you can “just get over,” but sometimes, if you work really hard, you can still have some pretty great days.
Much has been written about Tiny Cooper, Green’s Will’s fat best friend. Is Tiny a fat-positive character? He is attractive to an assortment of people, he is successful by all kinds of measures, he’s not a point-of-view character but he is in many ways the soul of the book — and he never loses weight. On the other hand, no character (with the exception of Will’s love interest/Tiny’s friend Jane, for some reason) can see him or think about him without referring to his size, repeatedly. He’ll eat anything you put in front of him, he might break the swing set, etc. It’s tiresome and unnecessary. We get it, guys. So… win some, lose some, I guess, as always.