Reviews

Shocked and Discredited

KELSEA O'CONNOR

Something That May Shock and Discredit You (Atria Books) by Daniel M. Lavery is an essay collection in conversation with high and low culture, ranging from Sir Gawain to the Golden Girls, as the author works to understand and to validate his trans identity. Building on his long-held assertion that Captain Kirk is a lesbian, Lavery reframes other aspects of pop culture as a means to understanding his transition, such as: the stages of working on an impression of the TV detective Columbo, who, thanks to testosterone, has a newfound vocal range, to reimaging ’9s Cosmo headlines for confused future trans men. Lavery also examines Biblical stories to help understand his transition as viewed through his Christian faith. The one I found most powerful is Lavery’s multiple reframings of Jacob wrestling with an angel—Genesis as an analogy for transition. With each essay, I looked forward to seeing how Lavery was going to remould a piece of pop culture or literary canon into an earnest-yet-humorous take on trans issues. While the essays maintain a clever jocularity, a current of vulnerability runs throughout them as Lavery reflects on his bewildered younger self and his attempts to navigate his new relationship to his own body, his social circle, and wider society. This collection shows what Lavery has gained through his transition, and what he’s lost, in the oblique, conversational, genre-blending style that is his signature.

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KELSEA O'CONNOR

Kelsea O’Connor is contributing editor to Geist. She lives in New Westminster.


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