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Other titles in the American Lives series:
What Becomes You (American Lives)by Aaron Raz Link and Hilda Raz
Synopses & Reviews
"Being a man, like being a woman, is something you have to learn," Aaron Raz Link remarks. Few would know this better than the coauthor of What Becomes You, who began life as a girl named Sarah and twenty-nine years later began life anew as a gay man. Turning from female to male and from teaching scientist to theatre performer, Link documents the extraordinary medical, social, legal, and personal process involved in a complete identity change. Hilda Raz, a well-known feminist writer and teacher, observes the process as both an "astonished" parent and as a professor who has studied gender issues. All these perspectives come into play in this collaborative memoir, which travels between women's experience and men's lives, explores the art and science of changing sex, maps uncharted family values, and journeys through a world transformed by surgery, hormones, love, and...clown school. Combining personal experience and critical analysis, the book is an unusual — and unusually fascinating — reflection on gender, sex, and the art of living.
"A blend of essay, memoir and intergenerational dialogue, this title is stranger — and smarter — than the average transsexual memoir. Link narrates his transition from female to male over the first 200 pages, interspersed with his views on everything from taxonomy to the difference between L.A. and Nebraska. His writing is hilarious, thoughtful and often poetic, but also frequently challenging. Discussing the general-knowledge concept that transsexuals feel 'trapped' in their bodies, he points out that 'If I'd dealt with my discomfort by getting rid of my body, I would now be dead.' He deftly avoids gender stereotypes at the same time he demonstrates the new chance at life his transformation has given him. Link's mother, the poet Hilda Raz, takes over for the next 100 pages, reflecting on her part in her daughter's transformation, her feelings and how they've changed, and her eventual acceptance of the son Link became. Even without the narrative hijacking two-thirds through, Link and Raz's book is a weird one; Link's looping narrative and lectures about gender theory see to that. The last 100 pages turn the book into a dialogue on any number of topics, including feminism, politics and, of course, the bonds of family. The result is oddly moving, more illuminating and memorable than a straightforward memoir could have been." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Mother and son's poignant account becomes one of steadfast maternal love in the midst of changes only partly physical. Both knowingly return, always, to the terrain of the heart." Booklist
"What Becomes You is a radically strange, deeply moving, unique book, a mother and child story like none you've ever read. There is nothing in our literature remotely like this story of personal transformation, a non-traditional story of coming of age and letting go told in a non-traditional way that challenges all of your assumptions about gender, family, stability, and social harmony. You will love this book, these people, and their candid, tough-minded bond." Floyd Skloot, author of In the Shadow of Memory and A World of Light
"What Becomes You is a tranny memoir/rant/documentary that reads like a whirlwind of James Joyce, William S. Burroughs, and Sarah Schulman, delivering a dizzying tour of gender worlds and netherworlds from a multiplicity of viewpoints." Kate Bornstein, author of Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws
About the Author
Aaron Raz Link, a writer, performing artist, curator, and historian of science, is the director of the Museum of Nature in Portland, Oregon.
Hilda Raz, a professor of English and women's and gender studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is the Glenna Luschei Endowed Editor of Prairie Schooner and author of the poetry collections, Trans and Divine Honors.
What Our Readers Are Saying
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