cover image Daddy Boy

Daddy Boy

Emerson Whitney. McSweeney’s, $26 (180p) ISBN 978-1-952119-52-1

Whitney (Heaven), a creative writing professor at Goddard College, explores childhood trauma and identity shifts in this unique and captivating memoir. At age 31, Whitney was divorcing his wife (a full-time domme named Jo) and living in a tent in their South California backyard while she stayed in their duplex. To get away, he decided to join a storm-chasing group on a ten-day trip. Whitney describes how the crew traveled the Midwest from Oklahoma up to the Dakotas, failing to find any notable storms, though nonetheless stumbling into some moments of unexpected loveliness (“Everyone was turned toward a field, watching a swirled wind lift up a handful of leaves. A beautiful joke.... We chased the dust devils”). Whitney intercuts accounts of bad road food, boredom, and frustration with aching meditations on identity and family, as the author explores his fractured childhood, his trans identity, and the simultaneous collapse of his relationship and desire to be Jo’s sub, a once-fulfilling role. Though readers may struggle with the jumbled timeline, the author’s vivid prose and emotional honesty really hit home. This isn’t for everyone, but readers who persevere will find genuine beauty in Whitney’s oblique, meditative narrative. (May)