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Tango: My Childhood, Backwards and in High Heels Paperback – August 16, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"[A] witty and touching memoir. . . [A] frank discussion of the ways in which [V] felt compelled to suppress [V's] emotions, [V's] sexuality, and [V's] true identity growing up. [V] suffered a great deal, and yet [V's] tone is never self-pitying." —New Yorker

"A story that is personal, yet undeniably universal at the same time." —Lambda Literary

“Bond’s fabulosity is matched by a trenchant wit, and [V’s] over-the-top stories are smartly edged with politics, sexual or otherwise.” —New York Times

"A brief yet remarkably candid memoir of growing up different. . . Poignant and funny. . ." —Kirkus

“Thank you, Justin, for your courage in writing the truth of what you went through as a transgender child in this society. Thank you, also, for your sense of humor. This book is very important, and fun to read as well.” —Yoko Ono, artist

“When I say Justin Vivian Bond is a true original, what I mean is, Justin doesn’t resemble anyone else on the face of the planet. When I say Justin Bond is touched by genius, I mean exactly that.” —Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours

"Tango is a raw nerve touching an electric soul, a beautiful book, written with honesty, pain, and joy from one of our great modern day shamans." —Sandra Bernhard, comedian

"Justin Vivian Bond is a lightning rod, a solid steel structure in heels that attracts burning chaos and disciplines it into orderly submission. Am I allowed to say that Justin is God?” —Rufus Wainwright, musician

"Tango should be in the hands of every child who can read, and of
every adult who cares about that child." —Michael Warner, author of The Trouble with Normal

“Reading Tango is like listening to your favorite eccentric cousin or auntie tell you hair-raising tales of innocence lost and found, friendships forged of adversity, and bullies bewildered by their own perversity. Justin spins a one-of-a-kind story that you won't be able to put down.” —Kate Bornstein, author of Gender Outlaw

About the Author

Mx Justin Vivian Bond is a trans-genre artist living in New York City. As a performer both on and Off-Broadway, Mx Bond has received numerous accolades winning an Obie (2001), a Bessie (2004), a Tony nomination (2007), the Ethyl Eichelberger Award (2007), The Peter Reed Foundaton Grant, and a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant for Artists.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY (August 16, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1558617477
  • ISBN-13: 978-1558617476
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Largely stripped of any sense of celebrity (Mx. Bond is, after all, an award-winning singer, songwriter, and performer), Tango focuses on the experiences of Justin's childhood, inviting us into a world of innocence, awkwardness, and confusion to which any reader can relate. Told in a casual, almost conversational style, this is a memoir that truly hits home - even if it sometimes hits harder and deeper than we may always be comfortable with.

Powerful and motivating, even (or, perhaps, especially) when uncomfortable, Tango is the story of the kind of childhood that I suspect is more common than most people would like to think. The sexual experimentation between adolescents may be too much for some readers, and the violence between them too much for others, but you can't truly appreciate the "luxury of normality" that Mx. Bond has achieved without first understanding where v came from.

My only complaint about the book is that it's too short, and ends rather abruptly, but it is the tale of a childhood, not a life, and not a career. Hopefully, the lovely Mx. Bond has another story inside vself, one that we'll get to share. Until then, however, Tango serves not just as an entry in the "It Gets Better" theme of literature, but of a welcome glimpse into vs origins.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Powerful, heartbreaking but also very funny (at times) story of the early childhood of Mx Justin Vivian Bond, a trans cabaret performer who I've had the pleasure of seeing live a few times. (excellent show!)

Reading Mx Bond's account of growing up trans, I had flashbacks of my own childhood growing up as a tomboy and also having some of the same issues with being boxed into gender stereotypes. (think "Scout" in To Kill a Mockingbird - that was completely me) Now it would have been much easier for me to go to school wearing lipstick, but when Bond does it, it causes a huge scene with V's mother. Classic! Bond's tales accurately capture the awkwardness of discovering one's own sexuality. It also reveals the recent discovery that V has Attention Deficit Disorder and how that came to light.

I feel that this book greatly helps promote understanding of what it's like to not easily fit gender "norms", also enlightening and encouraging to those who feel a bit different. <3
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are not many childhood memoirs of gender variant, i.e. gay, boys. After all, being gay does not start in adolescence. This part of GLBT history has been recently overshadowed by the many autobiographies of transwomen, which are important but tell a different story. The gay community has tended to minimize the wide range of gender variance of gay men in its fetishistic attraction to the macho-man "ideal." Why can't Quentin Crisp be one of our ideals? This brief memoir makes a great, readable addition to the gay male literature. It also deals in a realistic way with the male-on-male sexual exploitation of a young gay man, which is another story that needs to be heard. I praise the author for his courage, and encourage others to read this touching book.
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Format: Paperback
This book serves the same wit & panache Vivian delivers onstage, in delightfully direct printed form. A quick, hilarious read, TANGO is a wonderful glimpse into adolescent tranny angst that reveals that yes indeed, it does get better. Mx. Bond has a charming way of telling her stories, and I highly recommend her book for anyone who enjoys the New Yorker or David Sedaris. Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I absolutely recommend this book. If you know a queer kid, are a queer kid, or have ever been a queer kid, pick up Tango right now. Justin Vivian treats biographical material that could be overwhelmingly heavy with humor and grace. JVB's writing style is such that it seems like V was speaking right to me in a cozy living room over a mug of something warm. Of course, there are heartbreaking moments, but they struck me as honest and necessary, and the sense of hope throughout makes them worth it. Seriously, read this asap.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tango is Justin Vivian Bond's debut, a beautifully understated exploration of what it means to grow up different, in a society that makes one choose: blue or pink, boy or girl. This is foremost fine storytelling, however, a bittersweet recollection of the author's early explorations with a boy, who refused to accept his sexuality, and its consequences in adulthood. The prose is effortless - though no doubt Bond spent much time refining and crafting V's work to make it that way - and the poetic foreword by Hilton Als helps posit the work in a bigger, human picture: that difference should be encouraged; cherished, even. Also see Bond's album Dendrophile; the surprise release of the year. Captivating. DendrophilePink Slip ....
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Format: Paperback
I love this book! It's a pretty short memoir but Justin Vivian Bond writes so eloquently and powerfully, I am completely enraptured by the writing. I think V's strength and resilience is clearly expressed in this memoir. I couldn't get enough of V's story.

Mx. Justin Vivian Bond is branded as overly emotional by those in the family, which is something I can definitely relate to as well. I think Justin is very brave to write about the complex relationship with Michael and the slow path to self confidence and acceptance. There are so many people who don't achieve that, unfortunately. Yet V surpasses these obstacles.

I love how funny V is. I love how honest and bare V is in the most ugly and complicated moments. This is what a great memoir is all about. I hope there are much more books to come.

5/5 stars all the way.
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