cover image Real Man Adventures

Real Man Adventures

T Cooper. McSweeney’s, $22 (272p) ISBN 978-1-938073-00-7

T Cooper (The Beaufort Diaries) used to be a woman. Now he’s a man. If we were all comfortable with that, we’d be done. But we’re not; there are people who respond violently when they discover that someone doesn’t meet their standards of manliness. Cooper knows the “essential truth” that “the foremost thing on people’s minds when confronted with a transgender man is his dick,” and addresses these facts (salient, but not dispositive), along with others, in a variety of registers—humorous, angry, resigned, fearful, accepting, worried, matter of fact. This variety—one of the book’s strengths—extends to the book’s contents, which include interviews, telling six-word autobiographies, letters, and longer memoirlike segments. For those seeking a more standard account of a transperson’s “journey,” the book may disappoint, but Cooper’s free-form story, including pieces of his process, paeans to his wife and kids, what it’s like to be a member of the “Man Club,” and what he most fears, is humorous, surprising, and heartfelt. Spoiler alert: he finesses that most pressing question, pushing the reader to consider their prurience and conceptualization of gender around a key but limited set of body parts. Agent: Douglas Stewart, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)