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Self-Made Man: One Woman's Year Disguised as a Man [Paperback]

Norah Vincent
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (217 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Vincent, a tomboy from childhood, decided to see if the right makeup and skilled coaching could effect a sex transformation complete enough to get her accepted in her new guise as a man. For a year and a half, she went undercover to gather experiences such as joining a men's bowling league, getting a job in a testosterone-fueled door-to-door sales company, and going on a retreat with a secretive male empowerment club. Vincent's writing is quite evocative as she describes the process of becoming "Ned," but its disappointing that her narration doesn't demonstrate the masculine voice she developed. Her reading is mostly monotonous, only occasionally adding inflections that hint at the self-loathing she often felt as she deceived everyone she encountered. This abridgment omits two chapters, but the remaining ones still give an excellent sense of the project and the insights she gained. At the outset, Vincent notes that her experiment is not a sociological treatise but just a single woman's view of a guy's world. But her sharp powers of observation and crisp writing, which shine through even when her reading sounds bored, ensure that listeners finish feeling that they have learned a great deal along with her about the slippery workings of gender in America. Simultaneous release with the Viking hardcover. (Reviews, Nov. 14). (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Vincent's first experiment in cross-dressing came on a dare from an acquaintance who was a drag king. When she experienced the intoxicating invisibility and safety that came from wearing the disguise, she wanted to learn more. For 18 months, she disguised herself as a man, renamed herself Ned, joined a men's bowling league, visited strip bars, and dated women. Along the way, she found that the freedom and privileges enjoyed by men were counterbalanced by a constant testing and severe limits on emotions. She also found women to be distrustful, ever ready to criticize men for being emotionally distant yet clearly preferring men who met stereotypical images of strength and virility. Vincent is frank about her experiences--the hard business of sexual transactions devoid of emotions, the easy bonding between men, fear of sexual attraction among men, and, ultimately, the explosion of her own notions of sex roles. She also explores the guilt she feels about her deception. Writing from the perspective of a gay woman who had a view of the male world that women don't get to see, Vincent finds unexpected complexities in the men she meets and in herself as well. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

A thoughtful, entertaining piece of first-person investigative journalism . . . Self-Made Man transcends its premise altogether. . . . So rich and so audacious . . . [I was] hooked from Page 1. (David Kamp, The New York Times Book Review)

Vincent’s account of how she ‘became’ a man is undeniably fascinating.” (Los Angeles Times Book World)

Eye-opening . . . Self-Made Man will make many women think twice about coveting male ‘privilege’ and make any man feel grateful that his gender is better understood. (The Washington Post)

[Vincent] can be as perspicuous and exact as Joan Didion or Gloria Steinem at nailing a hitherto disregarded truth about the sexes in a single elegant and witty phrase. . . . This is a brave and often fascinating book, with Vincent . . . offering us perspectives that are entirely fresh and new. (The Times,London)

From the Back Cover

Praise for Norah Vincent:
"Norah Vincent is a true freethinker and independent journalist in the European manner, challenging prevailing assumptions in academe, politics, and media. Her work has always had a bold skepticism and energy. She is a model of pragmatic, enlightened feminism."
—Camille Paglia --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Norah Vincent is the author of the New York Times bestseller Self-Made Man. Previously, she wrote a nationally syndicated op-ed column for the Los Angeles Times. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New Republic, The Village Voice, and The Washington Post. She lives in New York City.

From AudioFile

A newspaper columnist used her tomboyish tastes and the indignities of being a woman to motivate a serious immersion into the daily realities of being a man. Spending 18 months in male disguise, she dated women and was accepted by guys in all-male communities and enclaves. Her somber narrative style is a perfect match for her sometimes brutal observations. With precious insights and no apparent axes to grind, this gifted writer gives us a sensitive perspective on the ways men disrespect women, as well as the pressure men feel to perform and compete in our culture. The entire story will stir up any complacencies and assumptions listeners have about gender roles and gender status in today's society. T.W. © AudioFile 2006, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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