Gay Biography / Memoir
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Arsenal Pulp Press (May 5, 2015)
Amazon: My Body Is Yours
Amazon Kindle: My Body Is Yours
Michael V. Smith is a multi-talented force of nature: a novelist, poet, improv comic, filmmaker, drag queen, performance artist, and occasional clown. In this, his first work of nonfiction, Michael traces his early years as an inadequate male—a fey kid growing up in a small town amid a blue-collar family; a sissy; an insecure teenager desperate to disappear; and an obsessive writer-performer, drawn to compulsions of alcohol, sex, reading, spending, work, and art as many means to cope and heal.
Drawing on his work as an artist whose work focuses on our preconceived notions about the body, this disarming and intriguing memoir questions what it means to be human. Michael asks: How can we know what a man is? How might understanding gender as metaphor be a tool for a deeper understanding of identity? In coming to terms with his past failures at masculinity, Michael offers a new way of thinking about breaking out of gender norms, and breaking free of a hurtful past.
It's a wonderful book, so gripping and moving and thought-provoking. It's tender and blunt and vulnerable. It's even shocking and surprising, and I don't get shocked or surprised very often. I found the writing beautiful, the words carefully chosen. While there was a great deal of sex, the book was not pornographic. The sex was not there to titillate but to illustrate and explain. Despite the serious nature of the story, it was at times also funny. And it was always captivating. A couple of times, I wondered if the writer was being pretentious, but the fact is that I bought everything he said. There was not much of a linear plot, but there was a definite plot of connected ideas, as the author led us through sex, gender, death, anxiety, depression, and masculinity. About learning to survive the world and oneself. I wasn't keen on the author's repeated use of the word "fag," but that would probably be my only criticism of the book. I hope this book does well with the other judges. I think it's a terrific book.
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