There Have Only Been Two Female Non-Princesses

We don’t often talk about Mrs. All the Way except to ourselves, but it is one of the most important novels of this generation. It is a genre-defying queer fantasy that should be read…

There Have Only Been Two Female Non-Princesses

We don’t often talk about Mrs. All the Way except to ourselves, but it is one of the most important novels of this generation. It is a genre-defying queer fantasy that should be read widely, but there are few who have the courage to do so. Even the publishing industry tends to give Mrs. All the Way short shrift. It received, at best, a thoughtful review in The New York Times, and alas most young adult publishers view a story about gay bestiality and fantasizing about killing a wife with her real-life wife and pets as scurrilous. The problem is that it is a story that can still be shocking in today’s post-Zoë Kravitz-ification world.

Mrs. All the Way is, as anyone who has ever read the book or watched the movie or read it online can tell you, a truly magnificent piece of work.

Mrs. All the Way starts with a man literally walking in church and quite literally running from the truth about his sexuality. He is having an affair with a woman who, not so coincidentally, is the very woman he is running from, and as his affair with her starts to make its way out of the black hole of his narcissism, he literally runs away, until he is discovered. He runs back towards the truth, only to discover the truth for himself, and his run is redefined as “up to the point of complete insanity.” To date, only two women have ever appeared on the cover of the New York Times bestseller list, and they are both fantasy authors—she is a young gay bestie of the big fish in the U.S. literature community, but this relationship was seen as an unmitigated disaster, destined to end in divorce.

It is through some very unusual and clever PR moves—she suddenly hosts a book party—that her image is enhanced, and a following is built up. She is given her own TV show, and the most important man in New York helps propel her to overnight fame as Mrs. All the Way. More importantly, of course, is the fact that within six months of the creation of the novel, she becomes the first gay man elected mayor of New York City.

What Mrs. All the Way is, fundamentally, is a story about masculinity and acceptance, about the relatability of gay men, and about how the sexual structures of love have to change. It is the first of a trilogy. But Mrs. All the Way is also a story about difference. The novel does not shy away from explaining just how very different Mrs. All the Way’s political agenda might seem to a traditional white male politician, and how that might play out in a particularly cruel and complicated way.

Plymouth, Massachusetts Senator Warren sought to lead this nation when she ran for the presidency in the 2004 election cycle, only to have that run fail thanks in part to vitriolic reactions to a speech she gave at Howard University. The president of her opponent’s party, Senator John Kerry, offered her the secretary of state position, but she turned that down. When she ran again in 2016, this time challenging Hillary Clinton for the presidency, the opposition was vitriolic as well. At one point, when she was confronted by a woman, on her official campaign website, with the question, “How do you know you’re not a Muslim,” a comment took her top spot on Amazon’s bestseller list before the criticism subsided.

It’s a form of homophobia that is as old as time itself. We know that something is wrong when people cannot relate to being a woman, or a woman of color, or an immigrant, or gay, and yet somehow, these are the very things that Mrs. All the Way is afraid to highlight. And the fact that only two women have ever appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, while women other than princesses have done a number of times, is still a scandal. It’s a scandal that has been about as helpful to the cause of gay rights as every gay man who ever dropped out of Harvard University. The LGBT community has always needed broadening of the picture, and Mrs. All the Way is the first book to do so. The bar has been set very, very high.

Eagle eyes and intelligent questions are what makes Mrs. All the Way such a significant book and such a much-needed one. For she introduces into the queer world a beauty that touches our hearts and unearths the extraordinary strength and love that binds us to it. Mrs. All the Way is a book that will likely influence many more when read as a periodical or on an iPad, as Margaret Atwood did when she read it for her first time. It will also be read on Mad Men,

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