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Behind My Nose

A bitter, yet heady bouquet of outwardly focused criticism, observation and praise.

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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

I'm a leftist bookseller, writer and sometimes activist. I'm not "high-energy," "outgoing," or "outdoorsy," nor do I enjoy sports (except for watching football) or other pointless activities such as kayaking, entertaining large groups of acquaintances in my home or tossing pointy objects at targets. I love to write short fiction & essays. I love laughing really hard and breathing fresh air. I'm a transman. I live with my partner, Kris, a narcoleptic bulldog, a hound dog and a cat.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Norah Vincent is Obnoxious

Remember the coming out episode (or maybe it was one of the episodes right after that) of Ellen where Joe sips on a cup of coffee and says, "Yes it's very fashionable to be lesbian these days," then they all go to a lesbian club to see how "her people live.".. ? Well I was reading one of the advanced reader copies of "Self Made Man" by Norah Vincent a few months ago just before it was set to be published and thought, "Oh god, I'm fucking fashionable. Kill me." In this arrogant, trite, transphobic little prattle by a "self proclaimed dyke," Norah dresses in stage drag and poses as a man for a while just to see what happens. How very coastal of her. It sort of reminds me of when I talk to other New Yorkers who sometimes forget that the rest of the United States actually has plumbing and electricity. Hello? There are actually people who were born genetically female who have actually had more significant experience than you who are actually better writers than you who can tell our own story thank you very much. You can flit off to South Africa where you can drum up some more publicity for yourself by "delving" into the way the other half lives. Oh, wait. You might actually have to talk to people besides your publicist and literary agent then. That won't do.So anyway, Norah's drag name is Ned, and she joins a bowling league, gets a job as a hard sell salesman, stays at a monastary etc. all to get the "everyman" experience and come out of the village of heathens to tell the rest of us what it's like to be a man. It's interesting to me that she thinks she has to be a completely different person in order to experience the male side of life. I mean, there are male opinion columnist hacks. She could have stayed at her job at the Los Angeles Times. Her girlfriend did astutely point out to Ivory Toweresque Norah that unlike her bourgeoise friends, good old boy trailer trash (like me for instance) "bowl without irony." But apparently this point was lost on her.
In the end, I wanted to write her a scathing letter telling her that I was really offended that she thought she could even scrape the surface of what it's like to be male after being socialized female while smirking bihind her hand in every possible private moment. I almost lost faith in Penguin (the publisher) until I found a better book under their Tarcher imprint due in March called "Both Sides Now" by Dhillon Khosla. Yes, this is the real thing, folks. Dhillon is an actual transsexual who has (gasp) actual literary skills, I'm sure much to the chagrine of our friend Norah, who is by now calling the rest of her colleagues to get her picture on the front page of other book reviews for her bold and revealing piece of shit book although her cronies did come through for her with the front page of the New York Times Book Review. Now, if the Lambda Literary Awards tries to nominate this pile of wasted trees for a Lammy so closely on the heels of "The Man Who Would Be Queen," I'm going to write a nasty memo to them which will no doubt end up being read by exactly as many people as read this. 0.

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