Sweet Tooth - Tim Anderson
What’s a sweets-loving young boy growing up gay in North Carolina in the eighties supposed to think when he’s diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? That God is punishing him, naturally.
This was, after all, when gay-hating Jesse Helms was his senator, AIDS was still the boogeyman, and no one was saying, “It gets better.” And if stealing a copy of a gay porno magazine from the newsagent was a sin, then surely what the men inside were doing to one another was much worse.
Sweet Tooth is Tim Anderson’s uproarious memoir of life after his hormones and blood sugar both went berserk at the age of fifteen. With Morrissey and The Smiths as the soundtrack, Anderson self-deprecatingly recalls love affairs with vests and donuts, first crushes, coming out, and inaugural trips to gay bars. What emerges is the story of a young man trying to build a future that won’t involve crippling loneliness or losing a foot to his disease—and maybe even one that, no matter how unpredictable, can still be pretty sweet.
And I can't start my review without sharing that first line, can I?
To a boy whose ideal snack was Little Debbie Zebra Cakes, the existence of a disease like diabetes seemed like the dark work of a mean God.
Tell me, doesn't that make you think- "I'm all in"? I don't know what I'm going to be reading, but I am all the way in, no questions asked. Because if it doesn't, I don't know if we can be friends. I just don't know how we'll overcome this.
I am a huge David Sedaris fan and I'll tell you right now, I don't put this in the same category of Sedaris. Maybe some day, but not right now. I will say I did enjoy it. I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I was diabetic or a gay man, but overall, it wasn't bad. I will say though that all of the dialogue about masturbating as a young man and even some of his adult adventures have left me terrified to experience what will be my son's future teenage years. I have no idea if he'll be gay or not but I can tell you right now that if all boys do these kinds of things I am terrified and I don't want to know.
I'm also going to maybe insist on him having his own Kleenex or something in his room just to prevent any weird embarrassing situations w here he's asking me for towels and Lysol. I just... I can't.
Some of my favorite parts of the book is when he talks about living with diabetes and just how unjust that is for a kid and even as you grow into adulthood. Just... I can't even imagine not being able to eat all of the candy in the world. It's not right at all. And even though he goes through puberty and sexual urges as a young, gay man, I can tell you as a totally straight girl, I empathized and I could relate. I remember staring at boys on the bus and feeling funny and then terrified at the same time. I want to run as fast away from them while at the same time try my best to get them to do something. I had forgotten how incredibly awful and awkward that age was until I read this book.
Then I started worrying about my daughter who isn't far off and DAMMIT, Tim Anderson. DAMMIT.
The book is funny, it's slightly uncomfortable, it definitely eye opening, and it's something you should absolutely read while on the bus or something and try hard to not break out in tears laughing. Or groaning in sympathy because we have all been there. Good lord, haven't we all.
Tim does have a website and a blog that you can check out. Otherwise you can get his book off of Amazon now.