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Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitudeby Amy Bloom
Synopses & Reviews
Amy Bloom has won a devoted readership and wide critical acclaim for fiction of rare humor, insight, grace, and eloquence, and the same qualities distinguish Normal, a provocative, intimate journey into the lives of "people who reveal, or announce, that their gender is variegated rather than monochromatic" — female-to-male transsexuals, heterosexual crossdressers, and the intersexed.
We meet Lyle Monelle and his mother, Jessie, who recognized early on that her little girl was in fact a boy and used her life savings to help Lyle make the transition. On a Carnival cruise with a group of crossdressers and their spouses, we meet Peggy Rudd and her husband, "Melanie," who devote themselves to the cause of "ordinary heterosexual men with an additional feminine dimension." And we meet Hale Hawbecker, "a regular, middle-of-the-road, white-bread guy" with a wife, kids, and a medical condition, the standard treatment for which would have changed his life and his gender.
Casting light into the dusty corners of our assumptions about sex, gender, and identity, Bloom reveals new facets to the ideas of happiness, personality and character, even as she brilliantly illuminates the very concept of "normal."
"[A]n amazing range and diversity of the human experience of gender and sexuality....Fascinating without being prurient, detailed without being overly scientific, the book opens new ways of viewing not only gender but our own inability to accept difference." Publishers Weekly
"[F]luid and deftly contructed essays....Bloom's unwillingness to embrace simple formulations, her insistence on digging deeper, is her book's strength." The New York Times Book Review
"Part travelogue, part social exploration, Bloom uses compassion and humor to raise the possibility of expanding the American sexual spectrum." Hartford Courant
"Bloom resists dry analysis here, opting for colorful stories instead....Bloom's stellar writing ultimately gets her points across... (Grade: B)" Entertainment Weekly
"This is an important book which says new and interesting things about sex and gender and — it is a very good read." Grace Paley
"A moving examination of the variety of gender and erotic preferences, presented with varying degrees of persuasiveness as examples of nature's vast spectrum of possibilities." Kirkus Reviews
"As Amy Bloom walks us through her adventures in genderland, she draws compulsively readable pictures of the folks she met there." Out
"Bloom dares the reader to be willingly confounded by her always engaging, frequently humorous interviewees while also airing her own reactions....An accessible, nonsensationalistic introduction to a fascinating and controversial subject." Library Journal
"Beautifully done, Bloom's fascinating and enlightening disquisition greatly extends our perception of humanness." Booklist
About the Author
Amy Bloom is the author of A Blind Man Can See How Much I Love You, Come to Me, and a novel, Love Invents Us. Her work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, and Harper's Bazaar, among other publications, and in many anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories; Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards; and The Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction. A practicing psychotherapist, she lives in Connecticut and teaches at Yale University.
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