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.
It was nice to know that there are other people that struggle with gender identity the same way that I do.
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.
"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.
Probably not. I think once is enough to get the sense of this indomitable woman's life, and there are a few parts (rape, a grisly visit to a murder scene) that were difficult to hear.
Absolutely, it's worth reading. It's such a great memoir. Kate Bornstein writes with joyful relish about her life, even the hard bits (especially the hard bits). And her life encompasses so many diverse movements - the swinging sixties university theatre scene, scientology, the transgender community, the lesbian community in many different cities, queer femme theatre, activism, bdsm. She's packed a lot of life in her sixty-something years and I feel humbled that she's shared it all with us. She's honest, open, and unashamed.
Nope, but I loved this one. I actually thought it was narrated by Bornstein until the end, Rosengard puts so much into her performance.
A lovely and unique memoir. I hope Kate's daughter reads it.
I love kate bornstein and was delighted to learn and love even more about her life. I hear wholeness, a whole person, not just a story of a man then woman, or scientologist and not. Funny, wrenching, beautiful, full.
First time listening to Alice rosenguard. At first I was missing Kate's voice but really felt Alice embodied her wonderfully.
Laughed and near cried.
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