Wednesday, October 1, 2014

books not finished

Becoming Drusilla by Richard Beard
This was recommended to me as a road to understanding transsexuality. I found it harder to engage with its prose style than it seemed to be worth continuing. It's nonfiction, but Beard is primarily a novelist, and he kept trying to tell the story novelistically.
Beard feels that memoirs by transsexuals themselves are not best aimed at bystanders, and I expect he's correct. More promising might be this, a book by a cis friend of a transsexual: Beard's camping buddy, who after years of friendship came out as a woman. Alas, in at least the first half, Beard's energy is focused mostly on convincing skeptical readers that yes, transsexuality is a thing. That I already knew. So far, on critical questions like when she realized she was a woman, why and how she kept up pretenses as she did, Dru is elusive or mum, and I wearied of wondering whether she'd ever become more forthcoming.

The Invisible Bridge by Rick Perlstein
I picked up this massive, wide-ranging book on the growth of the conservative movement in the 1970s US, turned to a random page, and read a random paragraph, discussing Truman nostalgia, of all things. In it, I found two minor but annoying factual errors, both based on the author failing to check up on exactly when people actually died. Both incorrect factoids could easily have been omitted without affecting the paragraph's point. Probably the entire paragraph could have been omitted without affecting any larger point. But if you're going to include details, get them right. I knew this stuff; why didn't the author of a massive detail-filled book?
I put this book back on the shelf and don't intend to read any more.

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