- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Firbrand Books; 1St Edition edition (March 1, 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 156341029X
- ISBN-13: 978-1563410291
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 131 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,697 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Stone Butch Blues 1St Edition Edition
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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.
Top customer reviews
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Stone Butch Blues, to me, is the greatest, most important queer novel in the world, because it does not only offer an insular experience of difference. It has everything: class, race, privilege, poverty, the complexities of being stuck in the binary (way before gender fluid was even a term), the way minorities split into factions. It's often claustrophobic, because the protagonist, Jess, spends a lot of the time alone, not being able to find either people who understand or a place to belong. And this is perhaps why Jess grasps at humanity with such hunger, that each of her interactions with others is a transformative experience.
Leslie Feinberg was a revolutionary, and zie was way ahead of her time, and even ours. And this novel is a testament to what being human is all about: just existing in this world, trying to fit into molds, and to be happy somewhere, somehow.
What I prayed for was understanding. I never did understand how people can be gay, or what's going on their heads. That's because I'm a simpleton when it comes to matters of the heart and attitudes to the opposite sex. I asked for understanding for what gay people go through. The problem with prayer is that you never know how God is going to answer your prayer. Another problem is that when you pray for plenty, as in plenty of understanding, you get it by the multiple-dump-truck load.
Please bear with me while I write this, because I know there's a lot of transpeople who will read this and think, "Who is SHE to comment? She doesn't know what we go through!!"
Well, now, I do, better than before, anyway. I think I will have to read the book again to better cement my understanding.
I don't agree with reviewers who say this book is clumsily written---it's only just about as raw, fresh, straightforward and honest as it could be, that's all. Leslie Feinberg just whacks you between the eyes with the experience of someone finding his/her place in the world as someone who feels born into the wrong body.
I couldn't believe that this book took place as long ago as it did! I kept checking the copyright date. It's a story that I predict will never get dated. Generations from now readers will pick up this book, and, except possibly when they congratulate themselves that they didn't have to struggle like Jess did, will still see themselves or their friends in Jess.
I also find it touching that there's only one sex scene in the whole novel, and it's written very delicately. I think that the lady novelists who write those stupid hysterical bodice rippers should read that scene. It's better than the crap that they write.
I think it's well said at the end, in Chapter 26, where the rally is described, in which ze writes, "This is what courage is. It's not just living through the nightmare, it's doing something with it afterward. It's being brave enough to talk about it to other people. It's trying to organize to change things."
It's also, for those of us who sail from childhood to adolescence to adulthood without having to go through this terrible kind of invalidation that transgender people deal with, having the courage to try to understand them, to not think of them as "gay" people or "transgender" people, but as people, and to just be their friends. In this great country of ours, where the ignorant and the stupid prate of "Christian values," I think they should remember that we are all equal in the sight of God, and that God delights in marvelous diversity.