The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard

Edited by Tom L%C3%A9ger and Riley MacLeod. Topside (Ingram, dist.), $32.95 (364p) ISBN 978-0-9832422-0-8
In this timely and thought-provoking anthology, edited by trans activists and playwrights Léger and MacLeod, 28 authors shed light on the complexity of the transgender spectrum. Their offerings provide unique insights into the emotional uncertainties and quotidian struggles that accompany finding and embracing one's identity in a world too often determined to impose traditional gender binaries. Trans men and women are represented, as are those who live somewhere in-between. While most of the stories follow a traditional "day in the life" narrative arc, several slip into other genres. Standouts include R. Drew's "The Café," about a trans man struggling to be accepted as Sam instead of Samantha; Casey Plett's "Other Women," which demonstrates how sex can be an emotional minefield for trans people; and Elliot Devine's "Dean and Teddy," which tackles issues of self-image and acceptance. Other notables include Susan Jane Bigelow's urban fantasy, "Ramona's Demons," which introduces a trans woman into otherwise familiar territory; and Mikki Whitworth's "Masks of a Superhero," about a costumed champion in transition. Sadly, a number of other pieces are little more than vignettes, and several do more telling than showing. A wide variety of styles, tones, and narrative tricks gives the collection a complex if uneven feel, but its underlying message—that the transgender experience is dynamic, valid, and worthy of fictive elucidation—makes the book more than worthwhile. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/30/2012
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