Review: Trans* authors contribute to The Collection
This just in from one of our newest Gaelickers, Ariel Silvera:
It isn’t always easy to review an anthology which contains several authors, especially when, rather than a unifying genre, the book has a unified theme.
In the case of The Collection, the first publication from Topside Press, the great variety of identities, backgrounds, writing styles and literary genres, makes it a complex task to simply sum it up. In short, it’s a collection of stories with transgender protagonists.
Topside took on this complicated challenge by assembling a number of vastly different, confident voices to be part of the book:
There are stories about revisiting hometowns after transition, an Asian trans woman dealing with her clueless cis lesbian friend, a genderqueer person confronted with horrid prejudice due to being neuroatypical and seeing ghosts.
There’s the lovers deciding if they will move in together while, on the other side of the world, a scientist wonders if in another quantum universe, he is making love to his fellow scientist rather than to his wife.
The trans woman who becomes a professional speed eater as a way out of her humdrum small town. The Victorian scientists who attempt to build a machine to see into the deranged mind of the homosexual. The trans woman in the future who, fascinated by a writer, meets a trans woman who came of age in our present time, exposing an evolved future trans community where mentoring is commonplace and ‘going stealth’ is unnecessary.
If these quick summaries sound exciting, well, that’s the point. This is, indeed, a vibrant tome, bursting with new ideas and just plain old good writing.
There are many shining moments of good prose, as well as awkward, explanatory smatterings which act as a running trans 101. But, even at its worst, the book feels like something special, unique.
We are seeing the teething pains of a new literary movement, of a community taking itself seriously, with a writing that is less confessional and more descriptive. We’re witnessing the coming of age of this new trans-lit movement.
There are downsides, however. I couldn’t help but notice many of the narratives take place in or around New York City, which feels hardly representative of the sheer size of the North American trans community. Another problem is that, despite an ‘international search’ of over a year, as touted in the press release, all 28 authors are from the US and Canada.
Admittedly, it is difficult to expand the remit of a project like this. And yet there is a pattern of American trans activists and artists purporting to speak for all of us, which is exacerbated due to their prominence in English-language writing.
Kate Bornstein and S Bear Bergman proved, in 2010, that it is possible to break that barrier and look beyond. I trust Topside Press will do so in the future, maybe in the next iteration of The Collection.
- The Collection will be available simultaneously in hardback, paperback and electronic format on 16th October, 2012 and can be pre-ordered online.
- Topside Press: web / facebook / twitter / tumblr
- Related news: 4th European Transgender Conference in Dublin this weekend!