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Stone Butch Blues [Paperback]

by Leslie Feinberg
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 1993 156341029X 978-1563410291 First Printing
Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence. Woman or man? Thats the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue--collar town in the 1950s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the prefeminist 60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early 70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations: a he-she emerging whole, weathering the turbulence.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This compelling but uneven first novel follows the sexual travails of lesbian Jess Goldberg. At its start she is a girl who feels confused by strict ideas about gender and who wonders if she might be a "he-she" since people often ask whether she is a boy or a girl. Constantly searching, she quickly moves from trying on her father's suits to visiting bars and transforming herself into a full-blown "butch," complete with her own dildo. As police crackdowns on gay bars result in more than one night in jail, Goldberg decides to begin taking male hormones and have a breast reduction in order to pass as a man. Although she delights in visiting the barber and being able to use the men's room--and even manages to make love to a woman without being discovered--the emotional complications of changing her sex (and hence her identity) build up until she ceases to take her hormone shots. Certain transmutations, like her lowered voice, cannot be reversed, however, so she is now even less defined as a member of a specific gender. Goldberg and her like-minded friends who have embraced the butch/femme dichotomy find they have no place in either the nascent women's or gay pride movements. Feinberg attempts to present Goldberg's life as the personal side of political history, but the narrative seems unattached to time despite the insertion of landmark events like the Stonewall riot and the mention of Reagan and the Moral Majority.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A gift from one of the most inspiring and revolutionary voices of our time." --Emanuel Xavier, author of Americano -- Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Firbrand Books; First Printing edition (March 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 156341029X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1563410291
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (110 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #498,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for learning about the Human Spirit! August 23, 1998
Author Leslie Feinberg has done a remarkable thing in the writing of Stone Butch Blues. The author has opened her soul to anyone who reads and exposed us each to our own fears of being different no matter how slight it may be. Being a gay male, reading this book was recommeded to me by a lesbian friend. At first I was reading it out of respect for my friend, but I found myself unable to put the book down. The story is endearing to anyone who desires to know more about the human spirit and the need and will to survive. I laughed, cried and saw myself in so many of the fears, questions, lonley times and good times experienced by Jess, the Stone Butch. Thank you Leslie Feinberg for the way you gave us a piece of your soul in the book and allowed us to become a little more accepting of our differences and of who we are.
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33 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stone Butch Blues is a beautiful book. November 18, 1999
By Rebecca
Three days ago I began this book, today I finished it. I can not remember if I have ever read a book like this. I smiled and laughed out loud. My heart ached and I cried myself to sleep. As a femme, I wanted to reach out to Jess and protect her. It opened my heart and my mind. I think Jess is strong and beautiful. Praise to all the Butches out there who hurt and continue to struggle.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely moving January 22, 2005
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is not only an important historical chronicle for the gay community, it is a compelling novel. The characters take on their own lives and make us care for them. They are true to the time in which they live. I was deeply touched by this book. I simply cannot recommend it highly enough. I think it is very important that we as a community realize where we have come from and appreciate the sacrifices others made for rights we now take for granted. Having said that, this book is never preachy. You could read it simply as a character study and it would stand on its own and still be fascinating. A must-read for any lesbian, but especially for any stone butch or butch. I am not a lesbian, I am just a lesbian-lover, but feel that this book gave me deeper insights into several women I have known through the years, and especially into the life of one very special friend.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It appeals to everyone and it's great bedtime reading! November 17, 1997
This isn't a "tortured tale" of anything. That's how people describe gay, bi, and transgendered people's stories when they get the message about how hard society tries to kill us, but still don't see the intense beauty of our culture and our lives.
Feinberg's autobgraphical novel does a brilliant job of showing how gender and class and sexuality and race intersect, without telling us out loud. This gives hir characters depth that most bestsellers lack. Feinberg's writing brings you right into the scene, and hir simple, honest descriptions give the story a feeling of raw truth.
It's interesting, to me, that so many lesbians (especially butch women) have embraced this book as a cult classic that really relates to their lives. At first, I thought, "they're missing the point; it's a transgendered story about how screwed-up gender is here." Then I realized that maybe it still relates to the lesbian community in terms of our gender issues; lots of female-to-male people start out identifying as lesbians.
I read this book three times: twice by myself, and once to my girlfriend as a bedtime story. It's cozy and scary in turns, but it's full of love.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant semi-autobiographical story November 3, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A dear friend recommended this saying it had changed her life, so I picked up a copy, but secretly doubted it. This novel proved me wrong. The protagonist's struggle through the ongoing and ever-evolving gay landscape as a butch woman, then a stone butch, then a transman raised so many questions and answers for me about the missing chapters of gay history, butch/femme dynamics, the FTM gender transition process, etc. And aside from all that, it was a moving story of one person's struggle to find love, acceptance, and safety in a world (and a body) that makes that all the more complicated. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a great literary read, even outside the GLBT community.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connecting with Hir February 7, 2003
By I'la O.
People see transsexuals in tabloids or an occasional film, either slasher or comedy roles. How often do we get to journey with a person who's transsexual from childhood through an adult coming into hir own? As a female heterosexual who grew up in a conservative background, I found this life-based novel a needed way to understand what my life might've been like, if.
Feinberg shows all us what it's like to grow up and explain hir kind of natural to people who only acknowledge "it" in order to deny/destroy "it." You connect to Jess, because isolation, rejection, acceptance, foolishness, and growing are such universal themes. Feinberg's writing helps you to be Jess through childhood, adolescence, romance, jobs, arrests, stubbornness, and personal triumphs.
I needed to walk in Jess's shoes, and Feinberg made that possible: the accomplishment of a good writer. Why didn't I get this book in my high school classes?
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The sad life of a butch October 13, 2002
I found Stone Butch Blues to be a truly amazing novel; I too had a hard time putting it down. As a heterosexual male from the SF Bay Area, I have been exposed to homosexuals, but have never really been "behind the scenes" of the struggle for gender equality. Stone Butch Blues was a gripping and consistently sad account of the life of a tough yet sensitive "butch" and I learned quite a bit from it.
Jess definitely had to "walk a difficult path" in life as was prophecized early on by her neighbors and caretakers. The ever present emotional and physical struggles involved in Jess' life were heartbreaking and most of the time she found herself "drowning in loneliness." It is interesting to read the literary talent on display when Feinberg describes the first time Jess sees Rocco, or Jess' first dance, or when she asks Theresa to marry her. Feinberg has the ability to clearly describe these characters, create memorable scenes, and simultaneously lift your heart rate.
I thoroughly enjoyed this eye and mind opening book and in the process gained an insight that formerly didn't exist.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Leslie Feinberg's journey has helped me in my journey of...
I have two lesbian friends, and one transgender, which I realize sounds a lot like saying, "Some of my best friends are lesbians," but the fact is, they ARE lesbians, and... Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Janster
5.0 out of 5 stars There is nothing like Stone Butch Blues and no one like Leslie...
This is my absolute favorite book by Leslie Feinberg - and I love all the others! It's personal, bold, honest and expressed in the most touching and fearless way possible. Read more
Published 24 days ago by Lana Nudelman
5.0 out of 5 stars book
needed it for school and it tells some of the struggles the lesbian community went through. the book quality was good almost new.
Published 2 months ago by armando
5.0 out of 5 stars School stuff
It arrived on time and in great condition. It's perfect. It works great and looks great. I will be recommending this site to everyone. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Katie L. Norris
4.0 out of 5 stars Readers be prepared
This is a very well written, insightful journey through what was to me an alien lifestyle. I gather it is loosely based on the author's experiences. Read more
Published 3 months ago by US Writer
2.0 out of 5 stars Too many typos
The novel itself is wonderful and will make you cry but the large print version has MANY typos. Practically one on every page. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best books I've ever read
This novel is so important to the lives of stone butches and femmes who have yet to find a strong community. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Matthew McGrath
5.0 out of 5 stars Must Read!
This is a GLBT must read! I would recommend it to anyone! It tells a lot of why we have Pride and about Stone Wall!
Published 3 months ago by Paula Hedge
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, Easy Read
This book was ordered for a class I took. This book was a great and easy read and I'm not a huge book reader to begin with. Read more
Published 5 months ago by trombonegirl2005
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved this book
I'm a hetero 50 something yr old woman. I read this in 3 days. It only took that long because I didn't want it to end. Read more
Published 6 months ago by LP
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