BECOMING A MAN: The Story of a Transition by P. Carl (Simon & Schuster). A remarkable memoir, a book that dramatically opens our minds by speaking calmly. The author has, in fact, transitioned in his …
BECOMING A MAN: The Story of a Transition by P. Carl (Simon & Schuster). A remarkable memoir, a book that dramatically opens our minds by speaking calmly. The author has, in fact, transitioned in his gender status—has become the man he always was, inside. Thanks to startlingly effective hormone therapy he is a man, has been in every outward sense for some years, now. He's enormously intelligent and serious, a successful academic literary professional, so at home in a milieu that was tolerant as a matter of policy, but for the most part at real depth, too. He's a terrific writer, strikingly insightful and convincingly honest, inspiringly celebratory of his deeply authentic new existence. But then . . . here's a stabbing irony that, for some reason surely unrelated to boneheadedness, never occurred to me in thinking about this process: he was married, years ago, as a gay woman, obviously to a woman. The high point of that person's—his wife's—life was and remains her wedding with a woman. She was thrilled and felt fulfilled by the experience of proudly living her life as she had always longed to do—with a woman. She still bitterly regrets the loss of not just that status but that relationship. This remains a source of real pain to both of them, yet they remain together, although nothing but their own commitment to each other requires it. These are not simple or shallow people. This book is inspiring, in that way among many others.
ANIMALKIND: Remarkable Discoveries about Animals . . . by Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone (Simon & Schuster). Newkirk is the founder and still president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA). But the book doesn't do much handwringing, even though it does mean to convince you that animals are complicated and worth getting to know—their full, complicated natures, and how they got that way. Same way we did, of course—natural selection, evolution; but that's more complicated than we tend to think of it, too. We aren't asked to get to know especially adorable individual specimens; this really is science, not sentimentality. It does get its argument in, eventually—and that isn't sappy, after all, just humane. And so is this book. If you've ever liked a natural history book that the column has recommended (there have been several), trust me again, here.
HUNTER KILLER: A Pike Logan Novel by Brad Taylor (Morrow). The latest of this inventive and smart, as well as action-packed, political-military action-adventure series. In this one, with a certain real-world timeliness (not for the first time), it's a team of Russian terrorists/assassins that Pike and his team are on the hunt of—in South America, deep in the border area of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay. It hasn't shown up on the Times bestseller list yet, but pub date was just Tuesday.
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