Book 2: Out of the Pocket – Bill Konigsberg

Out of the Pocket was a random decision. I’d never heard of the author, but I got an eReader and it was one of the books I could down load from the local library, so I thought why not? It’s primarily geared towards young adults/teenage readers, (as can be seen by my quick reading) but I still enjoyed it. Although not the best book ever written, or even the most exciting book ever written, it reminded me of great sports biographies I’ve read, specifically Inside Out: Straight Talk from a Gay Jock by Mark Tewksbury.

It’s the story of a High School football player forced out of the closet, while simultaneously learning that his dad has cancer. The story was mostly believable, if not a bit too utopic sometimes. There was nothing too overtly political or challenging to stereotypes, but I honestly believe this type of book can do just as much for LGBT rights in this country as many of the protests. (There is an entire argument of assimilation, but that’s not for this blog).

Without giving too much of the plot away, it was refreshing that there was a happy ending, even though we don’t know his full future, it’s still a satisfying ending to the period of time in the novel. I will say I felt Konigsberg did a great job portraying the main characters emotions, but some of the minor characters got lost in those attempts.

Although I talk about the coming out in ‘side note 2,’ I would like to point out that I especially appreciated Out of the Pocket for it’s lack of gay archetypes. Too often I am bored or even offended by the same themes (generally pulled and kept from the 1970s/80s writing: AIDS, self-repression, coming out, promiscuity, drug use, etc. I felt that Konigsberg, in writing for a younger audience did a great job in focusing on the point of the story and not getting to hung up on the ‘gay character.’ It was a refreshing change of pace and provided a little bit of lighthearted coming of age, while figuring out the world opportunities.

Quotes from Out of the Pocket
“He had a point. ‘So I guess I accept it,’ I said. ‘But what if I accept it, but the world doesn’t?’ ‘I guess all you can do, then, is change the world.’ I laughed. The idea of me, Bobby Framingham changing the world was pretty stupid. It was hard enough for me to remember to change my underwear.” – 50

“If you’re gay, do you have to spend the rest of your life feeling bad every time guys joke around? Can you turn that part of your brain off? And how do you do it?” – 55

“She shook her head in disbelief and sighed in a manner I hoped never again to hear, ever, in my life. A sigh of resignation and pent-up rage, if you can believe one might sigh with rage.” – 79

“My head buzzed. Maybe it does matter. I keep waiting for people to just accept that I’m gay, like gay and straight are equal. But they aren’t equal. Otherwise would we be having this conversation? Would we have voted on whether I could stay on the team?” – 132

“I realised then something that until that moment I’d never fully understood. I realised that I was my own person, separate from my dad, separate from my mom. And I was gay. I was alone in this no matter how much other people cared, or supported me. This was my thing. We aren’t going to make it better. Lie it or not, I’m going to get through this, or not. Myself.” – 147

Two side notes:

1) This was the first book I read on my eReader and it went pretty smooth. It took a while for me to get used to the screen size, but it didn’t bother me too much, the reader itself is roughly the size of a mass market paperback, but the screen is significantly smaller. The one thing I do want to look into is whether the number buttons on the side can be used to change the page as the click wheel worked, but it’s in an awkward place. I did enjoy the bookmarks feature, as I was able to bookmark the pages with quotes I wanted to go back to once I finished.

2) This book, in it’s simpleness and it’s openness for teens/young adults made me think about a potential topic for a PhD. I’ve always been fascinated with politics of identity, but this book made me consider the politics of coming out. I mean with the numerous high profile cases in the past few years of celebrities coming out of the closet, politicians being forced out of (or back into) the closet, I started thinking it could be fascinating to research. Some of the best collections of stories I’ve ever read have been coming out stories.


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