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May 2011
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Ys [userpic]

(By and large, I'm not even close to caught up with livejournal. But I had to share this.)

So, thanks to chirik, who came to visit us, I got to read She's Not There: A Life In Two Genders, by Jennifer Boylan. It's a great book, though it's hard to read in spots. I heartily recommend it to anyone who's at all curious, as it's both funny and sad, entertaining and accessible while still actually getting to some interesting and important things. (Including, I might add, a discussion about the futility of ever really getting someone who is not struggling with gender dysphoria to understand what it's like.)

However, in the afterword by Richard Russo, there is one of the best slams I've ever seen. He's talking about Jenny's sister, who has cut off all contact with her because of her transition. (He uses Jenny's original male name, Jim, and 'brother', because in the particular section he's talking about his own struggle with his male best friend revealing his transsexuality and impending transition, just for the record. It is very appropriate in context, and frankly, I found Russo's afterward to be incredibly moving.)

He says, "When things spin out of control, when the familiar becomes suddenly chimerical, our instinct is to restore order. Jim's sister, conservative by nature and efficient by habit, immediately set her own world aright by telling her brother she wanted nothing further to do with him. Problem solved, order restored. For the rest of us, encumbered by decency and affection, it wasn't so simple..."


Quoted without permission, copyright its author, blah blah blah.

Current Mood: impressedimpressed

By coincidence, I just read the book last night, and stayed up far too late because I couldn't put it down. My reaction when it was first published was "Oh, great, just what we need -- yet another transition narrative," but Boylan's is far better-written than most.

What was an interesting fallout from reading She's Not There was discovering that Richard Russo is a really good writer himself. The afterword gave an inkling of that anyway. My partner went out and bought about 4 or 5 of Russo's books and really enjoyed them, more so than Boylan's writing.