Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Keeper Cave

Ross: What is Rachel’s favorite movie?

Chandler: Dangerous Liaisons

Ross: What is her real favorite movie?

Joey: Weekend at Bernie’s!

Welcome to the Keeper Cave

By Amy Lane

We all do it—we do! If a professional from my old job asked me what my favorite book was? I’d tell him 1984, or maybe Emma, or Pride and Prejudice. If a friend or a relative asks me, I’ll fall back to sci-fi or fantasy, with maybe C.J. Cherryh or Melanie Rawn, or maybe Patricia McKillip as my favorite authors. If I’m with my UCF friends, I’ll spit out Kim Harrison, Illona Andrews and Patricia Briggs. My romance friends know I love Karen Marie Moning and Amanda Quick.

But it’s my m/m friends who know the truth.

It’s not that I don’t mention all of the above authors to my m/m friends. They know. We talk about our influences and which books or authors we loved when we were kids, and sure, these names will show up, because quality is quality. But there is some quality we keep to ourselves.

It is my m/m friends who know I’ve re-read Cut & Run, Sticks & Stones, and Fish & Chips about three times a piece. It’s my m/m friends who know that I’ve gone back and read the end of Change of Heart more times that I can count, or that Sinners and Saints made me cry or that even though it was a little past my comfort zone, I still found the eroticism of Nowhere Ranch incredibly hot.

In some ways, it’s my m/m friends who know the real me.

I love that clip from Friends at the top—because to me, that there is real friendship. It is not just knowing the person who watched the erudite movie and appreciated it on an intellectual level. Friendship is knowing the deepest, darkest secrets on a person’s keeper shelf and not drawing any judgments.

Think about it—do you have some of your favorite books in the ‘keeper cave’? Is there a special place in your Kindle for books you don’t want your work friends to know about? What are we afraid these shadow books are going to say about us?

Now I can be, in some cases, the world’s LEAST discreet person on the planet—I find compartmentalization to be incredibly hard. The person I am when I wake up, trip over the cat and run into the bathroom door in the morning is the same person who talks to the dog, gets pantsed by the same cat in the hallway, and asks the kid to please stop putting temporary tattoos on the wall in the afternoon. I’ve kept a blog for five years, and I’ve got to tell you, I’ve become adept at spilling stuff my family really wishes wouldn’t be immortalized in cyberspace. Humiliating my nearest and dearest—and myself with TMI? Oh baby, there should be an award for it—I’d win hands down!

But I have a keeper cave—and not the one in the porn drawer, either. I have guilty pleasures that are guilty enough to only tell the select few whom I know will understand.

And it’s the ‘will understand’ part that’s the hardest. Literature is something incredibly personal to us, isn’t it? Reading a book is an act of extraordinary intimacy, a personal tryst with another human’s imagination, and quite frankly, we don’t want anyone who doesn’t understand that relationship to be able to comment. In a way, it’s almost like sex itself. We don’t want to have it with someone who’s going to laugh at our scars and our imperfect bodies and then go tell people what a horrible experience we were in bed, and we don’t want to share a book with someone who’s going to tell us that our choice of brain-partners is not stimulating enough or who goes and gossips about us to their friends and to revel in their superiority of literary choices. We really only trust people who will understand us—and those are the people we let into the keeper cave.

And it’s an honor—it’s an honor to be invited to view someone’s keeper cave, it’s an honor to be on the shelves of a keeper cave. That entire, shyly hidden part of a friend’s personality is an honor to visit and an honor to see. Thank the Goddess for those friends who’ve been invited, who have issued the invites, who shyly give us a glimpse of who they really are with the faith that we will love that part of them too. And really thank her for those who visit our own keeper caves, and do nothing more than ask to browse—or sometimes, to dust.

I often wish I were a graphic artist—I think I could make some awesome greeting cards. I would love, for instance, to make thank you cards to be sold at bookstores that say “Welcome to the Keeper Cave. I know you’ll be at home.” Those of us who have that keeper cave will know exactly what that means!

You can find Amy at:


Tracy said...

Interesting and thought-provoking . . . never really thought about the fact that I, too, change the list of favorite books depending on the person with whom I am speaking. It is also surprising when I realize I have been doing this without even being aware of what's happening. I have only begun reading m/m novels the past year and have found a wealth of good writing and some amazing stories. Thanks for sharing . . .

Dr J said...

Update: the previous comment is really by me . . . I was on Tracy's computer when I wrote it--babysitting the grandkids and I always seem to forget to log her out and me in. So just wanted to make that correction.

Amy Lane said...

*g* Thanks, Dr. J-- It's sort of a subtle thing we do, isn't it? Books-- they are VERY personal!

Tracy said...

This is really Tracy. :)

Amy, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit us!

Books are SO personal. I think it's why I enjoy the blogging community so very much. I can talk about the books that I like without fear of judgment. I'm not sure most of my non-reading friends would understand my love of m/m books!

C. Zampa said...

That IS an interesting question.
If I think about it, this is what I come up with:
I am very open about what I read, not secretive about it all.

And, yet, I DO only share my very private favorites to a select few. And these few are not even limited to close fact, quite the opposite...but to those would know--if I mentioned the books---what on earth I was talking about. LOL.

Anonymous said...

I learned a few years back to be careful when discussing book preferences. A coworker at a former job ask me what I like to read and I said fantasy and science fiction because thats what I was reading a lot of at that moment. She got the "bad smell" look on her face and mentioned she was not a fan of those kinds of books. She would probably faint if she knew what I read today.

Now I do find myself editing my answers because people can be so critical and I don't like defending what I read.

Chris said...

Definitely - my online friends understand my m/m reading (and are constantly helping to expand my TBB and TBR lists). I have one friend in my neighborhood who does read m/m *waves at CJ*, but not quite as intensely as do I. My family finds the whole thing very odd.

Renee said...

That's so true, Amy!

I LOVE Ty and Zane.

My guy and I were both lit majors (we actually met in a lit class) and while he's REALLY open to lots of books (he's read Sookie, Kim Harrison, Diana Gabaldon, LKH on my recs), but there are some I don't even bother gushing about to him. I know I'll get the eyeroll. lol But that's what my online book friends are for. :-)

When I want to gush about the latest m/m, or m/m/f, or m/m/m or what have you or get recs for them, I know where to find those enthusiastic readers!

Hope you enjoy your visit to the island!

Amy Lane said...

*g* I've totally enjoyed my island visit so far, folks, thanks! It's funny though-- I had a chat with a friend of mine (a VERY conservative friend of mine) and she knows what I write and passes no judgments whatsoever. But SHE is so very shy that after friends from her church cleaned her house for her, she actually gave away all of her regular romance books, just so no one else could see that she had this weakness. I adore her (especially for that no judgments part) but it does make me really sad, because that fear of other people's opinions can be a really insidious thing.

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