How many books have you read of trans people? By trans people? Good ones?
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom stands out for its distinction of being one of its kind (which is unfortunate). But it also stands out for being lovely and brave.
The memoir is dark, but written with so much brightness that it made me forget how rough her life has been. The aliases she uses, and the fantastical descriptions of events and places are reminiscent of bedtime stories. In reality, it is like the Grimm’s Brothers’ stories – distressing and disorienting, but fashioned in palatable and affable ways.
The poetry in between is poignant. It’s about a pocket knife and the inevitability of having to have one. There’s also a poem about being femme. It reads like a song.
This one is one of those kind of books that affects one’s belief systems. Did you know how very normal it is to be exploited for surgery, for trans people? It was described so casually in this book, that I felt ashamed, illogically and idiotically.
My only grouse is the extent to which she goes to shroud all places’ names. So while the memoir is a real story, it’s also under velvety wraps, with names like “City of Gloom” and “City of Shadows and Lights”. Sigh.
A short read. A good read. One of those kinds that you wish was longer. 4/5.
This is my review of Hillbilly Elegy, by JD Vance.
Isn’t the whole point of a book to change your worldview? I remember hearing, and reading, that books can expand your horizons, but it has been a long time since I’ve gotten that feeling from a book- until this one. I’m happy with this selection.
JD Vance is an Ivy league educated lawyer, but he didn’t come from a background of wealth and privilege. His upbringing represents an America that is often underrepresented by the news and the media. The global audience- and indeed, the rest of the USA- are often unaware of the struggles of the lower-class in the midwest.
This book does an excellent job of educating people while avoiding falling into the trap of buying sympathy. He is patriotic without being jingoistic. The analysis of how his Republican leanings were influenced by his childhood and family is almost academic, and helps to understand his perspective. As an ethnic minority, and a woman, and an immigrant, and an engineer on the west coast, it’s sometimes hard for me to relate to the experiences of red-supporters in the midwest.
I appreciated this book because it showed me that I may be a minority, but I’m definitely not underrepresented- I have money and safety and am not disadvantaged. Just having the ‘right’ skin colour does not make life easier in this country. The USA has its own social evils to overcome, but democracy can help the country take steps towards equality and prosperity and good health for everyone.
5/5, recommended for anyone who is curious about the lives of others, and the lives of ‘others’.