Thursday, September 02, 2004

I think it was Truman Capote who once said that the Great American Novel had already been written, and its title was "Huckleberry Finn."

I found the quote I'm now using as my tag-line in "
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders", by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Although I'm only 46 pages into it, I already highly recommend the book, which I picked up after hearing an interview with Boylan on NPR (after the "Washington Post Book World", probably my best single source for book recommendations). Boylan, co-chairperson of the English Department at Colby College in Waterville, Maine (one of the prettiest campuses on the face of the Earth, btw), is a transgender, who used to be "James Finney" Boylan.

Apart from the fact that it's a fascinating story, that it's also set in Maine -- not, except possibly on a college campus, a welcoming environment for alternative lifestyles -- sold me on picking up the book. And I'm glad I did. The opening episode of Boylan driving two girls from Freedom, Maine around Augusta in an aimless search for a pit bull evokes rural Maine as well as anything written by my friend and classmate, Carolyn Chute.

"I drove down Middle Street and hoped, in a way, that I wouldn't be able to find the trailer. It was already clear that a pit bull was the very last thing these girls needed in their lives, that it was the only thing I could think of that might make their lives worse than they were already."

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