978-0-679-45652-0 / 067945652X

Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites with Attitude

by Bloom, Amy

Publisher:Random House



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About the book:

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, her first full-length work of nonfiction. In Normal, the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award finalist explores sex and gender through portraits of people who are widely considered not normal.

A great many people, sick of news from the margins, worn out by the sand shifting beneath their assumptions, like to imagine Nature as a sweet, simple voice: tulips in spring, Vermonts leaves falling in autumn, Bloom writes. Nature is more like Aretha Franklin: vast, magnificent, capricious, occasionally hilarious, and infinitely varied.

Bloom takes us on a provocative, intimate journey into the lives of people who reveal, or announce, that their gender is variegated rather than monochromaticfemale-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 transgender 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.

Bloom shows the essential humanity in this infinite variety, allowing us to appreciate these people as they really areboth like and unlike everyone elseand inviting us to see into these particular worlds and back out to the larger one we all share. Casting light into the dusty corners of our assumptions about sex, gender, and identity, about what it means to be male or female, Bloom reveals new facets to ideas about happiness, personality, and character, even as she brilliantly illumines the very concept of normal.

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