We had a guest over for dinner the other night who said she wanted to read my new/old release UPSTATE. Unless that is, the stories in the collection involve sex, which she did not want to read about, because she didn't want hear these scenes in my actual voice as she had with whatever one of my books she had last read. Suffice to say she will not be reading UPSTATE. I share this not as a humblebrag, though it clearly is (and apologies for that), but to say that I thought I might say something here about the gloriously soaring new essay collection TOMBOYLAND by the Melissa Faliveno and what's it like to know someone and picture what your reading in their voice.
The thing is I'm not sure I get especially lost in what I'm reading as far as projecting the words and stories onto the author. Which is to say, how they may or may not have lived their lives is not a distraction to me. However, that isn't to say I don't know project when I read a book like Tomboyland. It's just if I read someone deftly dissect themes of gender, class, geography, the Midwest specifically, sexuality, violence, both sexual and physical, sport, body (and so much interesting stuff about body and body image, angles, strength, muscles and leanness), parenting and addictive behaviors. If I learn about the ways in which the author finds their power and voice. And if I come to better understand how the perceive their place in the world, I'm more likely to ask myself how I think about these things and whether I've thought enough about them at all.
For example, BDSM. I haven't spent a lot of time musing on this, but I haven't not thought about it. And I've certainly passed on opportunities to test the water. One opportunity anyway. I suppose then what I'm driving at is that I'm envious of Faliveno's openness to exploring so much, so hard, even though so much of it was also so hard. It makes me wonder as a rapidly aging, cisgender, monogamously, married human being, what more I might have done when I was younger and along the way, though also certainly what more I might yet do? My question is whether this is a fair way to read someone else's book? Maybe not, but am I caught-up in looking at my life these days? I am. And will TOMBOYLAND change your life regardless? Most certainly.
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