The True Story of a Nice Jewish Boy Who Joins the Church of Scientology and Leaves Twelve Years Later to Become the Lovely Lady She Is Today
A stunningly original memoir of a nice Jewish boy who joined the Church of Scientology and left 12 years later, ultimately transitioning to a woman. A few years later, she stopped calling herself a woman and became famous as a gender outlaw.
Kate Bornstein - gender theorist, performance artist, author - is set to change lives with her compelling memoir. Wickedly funny and disarmingly honest, this is Bornstein's most intimate book yet, encompassing her early childhood and adolescence, college at Brown, a life in the theater, three marriages and fatherhood, the Scientology hierarchy, transsexual life, LGBTQ politics, and life on the road as a sought-after speaker.
©2012 Kate Bornstein (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I don't know what to say about this book. It's different from any I ever remember reading. It's as unique as its author ... and even tho I know you can't qualify the word "unique," that means it's very, very unique. It's got the "I-must-not-tell-lies" ring of truth, yet it sounds as fantastical as a fairytale (or a nightmare). And it's very well written. It's also very well narrated--in a feminine voice that's almost too lilting --too lilting because the voice doesnt fit the second half of the book as well as it does the first half.
It's the author's personal tale, but I believe it's more a love letter from a parent to his lost child. Yes, the author was a father at the time his wife, one of the higher-ups in Scientology, went to live on the other side of the country without informing him that she didnt intend to come back, only informing him after arranging for him to send their daughter to her for a visit and, instead of sending the daughter back at the arranged time, sent instead Mexican divorce papers. The wife was only able to pull off this betrayal because they were all "trapped" in the Scientology hierarchy and her rank was higher than his.
The second half of the book is the author's life after Scientology. This entire book seems to me to be an entreaty for his daughter, "Jessica" to contact him before he dies. Of course, "he" is now a "she," and that's the story of the second half of the book. Here, the narrator's light and laffy tone is, IMO, not the best tone for some of the serious incidents portrayed. Pathos, I suppose, the word is. Personally, it's sad to me that such an obviously loving and giving person as the author should have met up with so many destructive people, but it's a tribute to Kate Bornstein's character that she has been able to maintain a positive and embracing attitude toward the stage of life and all the characters strutting there.
20130419 ◊ I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that Kate Bornstein never made a ping on my radar before. I vaguely remember hearing about "Gender Outlaws" many years ago, but honestly -- most books on queer/feminist/gender theory make me want to claw my eyes out. So even if I'd had prior knowledge of her performance art and life story to motivate me, I'm not convinced that I'd have dug into her earlier written work.
No matter! Fortunately for me - and for everyone even slightly interested in her life story - Ms. Bornstein has written a charming, compelling, intelligent, heart-wrenching, brutally honest, and deeply moving memoir that I cannot recommend highly enough. Part transsexual bildungsroman, part Scientology tell-all, and part love-letter to her estranged daughter and grandchildren: this book manages to weave each of these elements into a cohesive, riveting story without deteriorating into car-crash pathos or saccharine sweetness. A few descriptions of tranny/queer sex and bdsm might be shocking to some, but Bornstein presents these topics with such lusty good-will and compassion for her less kinky readers (at one point even directing them to the first sentence of the next section past a particularly intense sadomasochistic scene) that you can't help grinning at her delightful, consensual depravity. Or at least, I couldn't. :)
Bornstein's journey towards acceptance, integration, and self-fulfillment is both fascinating and inspiring. I can only hope that others wring as much enjoyment out of this book as I've been able to! It's been quite a while since I've felt actively grateful that a book was written, simply for my own greedy joy in the reading of it.
Alice Rosengard's sweetly arch tone throughout the audiobook is spot-on. Brava!
I'm Audible's first Editor-at-Large, the host of In Bed with Susie Bright -- and a longtime author, editor, journo, and bookworm. I listen to audio when I'm cooking, playing cards, knitting, going to bed, waking up, driving, and putting other people's kids to bed! My favorite audiobooks, ever, are: "True Grit" and "The Dog of the South."
Kate Bornstein writes books condemned by Pope Benedict. She's a self-identified jewish lesbian tattooed masochist tranny, with a titanium knee. She's the definition of an outlaw! So how did she get this way?
A Queer and Pleasant Danger is Kate's memoir, broken into three parts: growing up a Jewish boy in New Jersey, joining Scientology as an adult (and leaving 12 years later), and finally, transitioning into a woman, coming out as a lesbian, and joining the BDSM culture.
Kate's story is a deliciously matter-of-fact narrative, narrated by Alice Rosengard. Alice, coincidentally, went to college with Kate when she was known as "Al." They were friends! She called Kate up and they collaborated on the narration process— an unusual and delightful reunion.
Erotica, fantasy, spirituality, leftist politics, self help, and a lot of goth horror...yup, that's me!
I've been an admirer of Kate Bornstein's work for a while, and this book really highlighted what a courageous, good-hearted trailblazer she is who shines a humorous, compassionate, original light into difficult, sometimes dark and scary, places. Alice Rosengard's narration gives life to the text as if Kate were in the same room as you, having a conversation.
People who've been immersed in queer or kink communities for a while will find much to enjoy in this personal, vulnerable, never-before-told history of one of its luminaries. But given that the author's ideal audience is her estranged scientologist daughter, the narration is accessible and sensitive to those with more "mainstream" lifestyles and perspectives. There is even a warning before some of the more intense content.
A good portion of the book is dedicated to describing her time with the Church of Scientology when it was still young and under the leadership of L. Ron Hubbard. It's a worthy read for that reason alone. Of course Kate identifies herself as an unreliable narrator in the sense that she is drawing from memories about a confused time in her life, but nothing she says about the church is inconsistent with other accounts I've read.
What I appreciated most about the book were her unapologetic discussions of her own work as an activist and artist who is controversial even within queer communities. At one point she talks about having a speech protested by transwomen holding signs that say, "Kate Bornstein does not speak for me," and she responds by saying something along the line of, "I would never presume to." That stayed with me. I don't agree with everything Kate says politically, but her truth and her art are so valuable to so many people that I'm glad she continues to express herself with courage despite not always following the party line. I'm glad she invites disagreement. I'm glad that one of her main messages is that we need to make room for a multiplicity of truths. That message gives me the courage to put my own truth out into the world, and gives me the open-mindedness to accept others who disagree with me. I'm very grateful to Kate for continuing to put herself on the line and tirelessly speak that message <3
I am a doctoral student in literacy in the Boston area. I love true crime, well-written chick lit, and classics (Jane Austen is my favorite)
Kate Bornstein has lived several lives and she has written a funny, achingly honest book a that I devoured. I was fascinated by both her time in Scientology and by her decision to become a cute girl rather than the Jewish guy she started out as. It's honest and open at her choices and motivations, but her descriptions of life as a slave in the BDSM world are not for everyone. She recognizes this with a warning that I am sure some appreciate and a suggestion of what to part to skip over. Highly recommended.
Kate Bornstein's writing. At the beginning of the memoir, she admits some parts will be lies. Listening to her finely crafted, beautifully spun narratives sucked you in so hard, you believed most of it until she confessed to telling a lie. Her writing was stunning, and this added element made it unpredictable, interesting, and most importantly, very human.
Her honesty. She candidly relayed the most personal details of her incredible life, and openly discussed intimate details about her political views, moments of emotional vulnerability, changing relationship with gender, and more. It was like all the juicy parts of a great friendship that usually take years to be revealed all crammed into a gorgeous book.
Alice Rosengard further cultivated the sultry, smart, youthful, joyful, brooding enigma of a character that Kate's work brought to life
I just looked up the tag line for "A Clear and Pleasant Danger," so I could riff on that, but its tag line is, "Truth needs a soldier," which is awful, so I'm just out of luck.
The title is so good, it doesn't need a tag line! Maybe, "From one SP to another," which is something you won't understand until you read the book. :)
This was easily my favorite memoir of all time. As a queer woman, and someone who works in the LGBTQ community, this book still taught me more about my friends, community, exes and our incredibly diversity and reliance than I ever thought imaginable.
...It was also hot. Let's be honest, there are some hot scenes.
"It's been agony, but I couldn't have done it any other way." - Quentin Crisp
I think I would probably recommend it to some of my friends. It's a somewhat fresh take on an ex-Scientology story, and much of the story is highly engaging, but the graphic descriptions of extreme S&M were hard to listen to at times (though she does provide warnings to skip ahead if you're squeamish) and maybe not consistent with the thing about being intended as a message to her daughter...
I would have toned down some of the S&M stuff. I'd have been more interested in a deeper exploration of what she gets out of this sort of relationship.
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