the kids’ book that could save the industry

someone reminded me the other day of one of my favorite novels, geek love, by katherine dunn. it’s a touching tale about a couple that runs a failing circus. to boost attendance, they decide to create a circus freak sideshow by indulging in some serious pre-natal mismanagement. the story is told from the perspective of the eldest daughter, who was a disappointing freak for the family coffers. she’s a blind, bald, albino dwarf. more exciting are her younger sisters, beautiful conjoined twins who play the piano. but the real draw is their older brother, who has flippers for limbs. as a child, he wows the crowd with amazing aquatic tricks, but he become cynical as her gets older, & eventually develops himself a cult of followers who trail behind the circus from town to town, willingly submitting to amputations in order to emulate their hero. the youngest brother isn’t much to look at–he just looks like an everyday regular kid. but he has telekinetic powers, which the father puts to good use pickpocketing high stakes gamblers.

it’s an excellent book & i recommend it.

but i can never think about this book without thinking about the time i was watching “john stamos: true hollywood story”. this was a couple of years after i read the book for the first time, back when john stamos was still happily married to rebecca romijn. the crew interviewed him about their relationship, & he started gushing about how they were so in love, it was almost embarrassing. he said, “we’re just two geeks that found each other & fell in love. you know that book geek love? that’s like us: two geeks in love.”

uh, dude? that book is not about what you think it’s about. i guess it’s probably a positive development for the limbs of hardcore “full house” fans that those two never had a baby together. let this be a lesson to us all: never compare yourself to a book if you haven’t actually read the book in question.

speaking of books, jared had a great idea for a children’s book. the audience would specifically be the children of queer parents, or i suppose the children of non-queer parents that hope to raise their children to be accepting of queer people. it would be about a gay ram & it would be called he’s just not that into ewes. i developed a whole story for it. basically, there would be this gentleman sheep farmer. (this is important because a sheep farmer who is actually trying to turn a family-supporting buck off his sheep farm would probably be a lot more likely to sell his gay non-lamb-producing ram to the local halal butcher.) he has a bunch of ewes & he needs a stud ram to help his flock grow. so he buys this ram & introduces it to the lady sheep, but the ram is remarkably uninterested in getting into the bone zone with the lady sheep. the farmer is like, “WTF?” so he gives up & gets another ram. but this ram is also “just not that into ewes,” as it were. but then the farmer & his wife & the sheep notice that the rams like to disappear together behind the trough, & they’re always frolicking in the clover together. when the rams start offering the farmer’s wife some helpful insights into her knitting projects, the pieces start falling into place. so the farmer gets a third ram, & this ram is really butch & pretty into his job. however, he seems somewhat threatened by the close personal relationship the other two rams share. he’s all like, “dude, were they checking out my horns? i am not okay with that.” but eventually, he gets over himself & comes to accept the gay rams, & the ewes are like, “those rams in love are great. they’re such good listeners, & so gentle with the lambs.” & everyone learns a valuable lesson about accepting homosexuality.

i asked jared yesterday, “what if we are browsing in a bookstore in san francisco & we find a kids’ book called he’s just not that into ewes?” jared replied, “fortunes won & lost.” there’s been a lot of hubbub in certain circles over a recent “new york times” article forecasting the death of the children’s picture book, but i think he’s just not that into ewes could revitalize the industry. publishers need to remember this important advice: it’s the parents that buy the picture books, & parents can’t pass up a good pun. or at least jared & i will be unable to whenever we become parents. & this is why our children will be incredibly nerdy & constantly subject to swirlies, not to mention the dreaded rear admiral.

we argue sometimes over whose last name our kid will get. i vote for my own, because i am the only xyerra in existence (because it’s just a name i invented) & it would be nice to start a new line. plus i’m the one giving birth, so i deserve a little something for my trouble. but jared wants to use his name, because it’s not just a made-up name that no one can spell or pronounce, & because name lineage seems to be pretty big in his family (his brother is david taber the fifth). so then we joked that we’ll have two kids: one with my name & one with his name, & we’ll have a contest to see which one gets into swarthmore. i think reading them hilarious picture books about gay rams will ground them in the early literacy they will need for success. i also think it would be funny if we each got one kid that we could name without any veto power from the other. mine would probably be something like ohia emeline xyerra & jared’s would be, like, sarah spencer taber. those are real names we have both put on the table. my suggestion is just a name that i think is awesome, & plus i am from ohio, & plus jared’s mom is from ohio, so there’s some family recognition there. jared’s name is after his mom, & while there is nothing wrong with that name, i think having a sarah & a ciara in the same family would get really confusing. my sister is named dani (well, danielle) & my dad was named don, & trust me, it got confusing every now & again.

since everything we put on the internet these days is cached for eternity, i wonder if someday my future child is going to stumble across this blog entry & be like, “oh my god, mom, you are such an embarrassment. i hate you!” probably.

Published by Ciara

Ciara Xyerra wrote zines for the better part of two decades. She has a brilliant & adorable preschooler named Ramona & sews as much as she possibly can. She lives in Lawrence, Kansas with her boyfriend. She enjoys catching up on "The New Yorker", meatball subs, keeping it cranky, intersectional post-third wave feminism, dinosaurs, & monsters. If you have nothing nice to say, she recommends that you come sit here by her, so you can say not-nice things together.

6 thoughts on “the kids’ book that could save the industry

  1. Funny, my sister’s name is Danielle and my mom’s name is Donna.

    I like your baby name better. It’s pretty and different without being obnoxiously so. Sarah Spencer sounds like royalty.

    1. careful, dude. sarah spencer is actually jared’s mom’s name. i told jared what you said & he conceded that diana spencer kind of ruined it for everyone.

      1. Oh, I meant no sort of “yo mama” joke harm. I couldn’t place the Spencer part of royalty, probably because with the new royal wedding, she’s just referred to as “Princess Di” more than her maiden name (although I hear “schoolteacher” thrown around a lot).

  2. When I was in college at Oregon State, a couple guys on our football team were busted for kidnapping a ram from the college farm. The ram was part of a research study on gay male sheep.

  3. Hiya, lurker here, via ‘Love Letters to Monsters’ (& from there reading your reviews on Good Reads). Just wanted to say I’m a parent who would be into ‘He’s just not that Into Ewes’! Perhaps you could publish it in my home country, New Zealand, land of many sheep.

    Also like Ohia and Spencer… and yr last name. I also gave myself a new last name (when I was 19) but it’s pretty plain (Kane) but my child has that name now and I like that it feels like starting my own line more. I’m still much more in the minority than I would have expected in having the same name as my kid compared to other people with a male partner with a different last name.

    I’ve heard ‘Geek Love’ has a bad rep with some disabled activists, but I haven’t read it myself.

    1. i took have heard that “geek love” has a questionable rep with disability activists. i don’t know. i think any disability activist who has issues with the book either didn’t actually read it or didn’t understand it. i am disabled & i don’t have a problem with it. not that i speak for all disabled people or anything. but as a disabled person, i actually think it’s a really interesting portrait of the bitterness & anger that disabled people may sometimes feel toward the able-bodied.

      i’ll see if we can make “he’s just not that into ewes” happen for you!

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