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A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Penis
By Grace Lavery
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“The queer memoir you’ve been waiting for”—Carmen Maria Machado
Grace Lavery is a reformed druggie, an unreformed omnisexual chaos Muppet, and 100 percent, all-natural, synthetic female hormone monster. As soon as she solves her “penis problem,” she begins receiving anonymous letters, seemingly sent by a cult of sinister clowns, and sets out on a magical mystery tour to find the source of these surreal missives. Misadventures abound: Grace performs in a David Lynch remake of Sunset Boulevard and is reprogrammed as a sixties femmebot; she writes a Juggalo Ghostbusters prequel and a socialist manifesto disguised as a porn parody of a quiz show. Or is it vice versa? As Grace fumbles toward a new trans identity, she tries on dozens of different voices, creating a coat of many colors.
With more dick jokes than a transsexual should be able to pull off, Please Miss gives us what we came for, then slaps us in the face and orders us to come again.
JUGGALO CHICKEN DRINK
My friends, I have solved my penis problem!
Or rather, my friend D solved it for me. We were walking together around the marina next to my apartment in Berkeley, and we were talking about our genitals. Most of the time, my penis does very little but flop around enthusiastically, like a miniature windsock man at a showroom for toy cars. Once in a while, it takes a stab at stiffening, gets halfway through, and then gives up. On such occasions it feels like a coil of fetal spine. There is something disgraceful about the experience, not merely because that very image—as though I were laying my own miscarried fetus across my hand—is utterly obscene. But more, because this atrophied and broken fragment still contains something that I want, something that I want more of.
“A desire (e.g., for a dick) drowned in a bigger desire for its absence?” I asked.
“Yes, I suppose,” D responded.
We tumbled into a parking lot, near to an abandoned Japanese steakhouse. D has no dick;—or rather, they have an array of them, various sizes and shapes. A wind blows across the parking lot. It is difficult to historicize. Perhaps this Japanese restaurant opened in the early 2000s, when West Berkeley was being redeveloped, and perhaps they imagined they could tempt the gentrifiers half a mile further outland for teppanyaki and a view of Sausalito? And perhaps people did not want to make the journey, but rather wanted to stay on Fourth Street, which was pretty in an entirely Northern Californian way—a few trees, and a lot of very expensive-looking boutiques selling artisanal wool products, travel books, and insipid-tasting tamales.
Or perhaps they were chased out by these turkeys. A squad of turkeys, in a tree in the parking lot. Four girl turkeys clustered around one entirely malevolent boy turkey, a pantomime turkey version of Gary Oldman’s Dracula. A turkey resplendent in black plumage, fringed in electric blue.
As D and I passed the turkeys, I was describing my guilt at another one of these baby-spine hard-ons that had occurred that morning when, after having woken up early, I was entertaining myself by reading Riverdale recaps on my phone. One of the recaps recorded that Mädchen Amick’s character had said something sarcastic like “shove it up your ass,” or “my ass,” or something with “ass” in it, and all of a sudden I’m shuffling into the bathroom, holding the unchristian waste of my masculinity in my hand. It’s all very dramatic.
But where did the guilt come from? My shriveled little fellow looked, from one angle, like a phallus, or at least an instance of phallic sexual desire, which a lot of us girls (assuredly including me) are keen to do away with for any number of reasons. If it was accompanied by pleasure, as it was for me, it might then also intensify the fear that, after all, what they say about us is true, that we are self-deluded boys attempting to get close to women for nefarious sexual purposes. It is difficult for trans women who love women to treat our own phallic sexuality as anything other than a disgraceful giveaway.
I’m saying something obvious, I’m embarrassing myself. Let me tell you about D. They are very short and very hot. Like a short, hot dyke. Got it? They look implausibly like Selena Gomez. They have Crohn’s. Like me, D is an alcoholic and drug addict, and we both like the same kinds of drugs: the ones that make one feel very aware one is having an intense experience. Neither of us has used drugs or alcohol in a few years, and we have different strategies for handling the fact. Mine have included prayer, and a high daily dose of synthetic estradiol; theirs have included bass fishing, and submerging every morsel of food in front of them in a lagoon of English mustard.
They have queries about their dicks, too. D likes to fuck—indeed, D has developed a sort of theology of fucking, a sense that fucking will either save the world or, at least, create a new world so beautiful that we won’t mind letting the old one die. They can be both selective and cruel: they reserve lifeboats for those they happen to find hot, and screw the rest. I suppose one redeeming feature is that they find many people hot, and that there’s plenty of overlap with some of my own types—yoga bitches, closeted milfs, masc bottoms.
D’s pattern of speech is quick, remorseless, absolute. We met at a “community event” a few years ago, and I went up to them afterwards and made a joke about my sex change, which they (kindly) understood as deliberately gauche. Another, more visibly cheerful lesbian joined me and made a couple of more tentative jokes in D’s direction, but D was focused on me—very early transition, short spiky hair, messed-up lipgloss, and a slutty denim skirt. I may as well have been wearing a button that said, “you don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps!”
“I feel guilty because the moment of losing my dick—and I realize chemical castration is a process with more gradations than we usually allow—but anyway there was a moment, a cusp—that cusp moment was important.”
“Yes, and it confirmed something about my sex change. Subtly, through internal means. Like, a surgeon could only be shaping the outside.”
The fundamental problem with the whole notion of using surgical means to effect a sex change is this: the grass is always greener. The desire to turn into a woman proves that you aren’t one; desire and identity are antithetical principles. This, bluntly, is Hannibal Lecter logic. But it’s also kind of true.
D, a non-binary woman, has installed the desire for a dick within their pussy hole. It is a remarkable solution to the problem. They explain:
“I love my dicks. I love to look down and know that it is my dick, and that it is fucking you, and that nobody ever had a bigger one or fucked you better with it.”
“But recently I have been using my strapless dick more. It starts inside me, at the root chakra, and pulls itself out of my cunt, out into the world. I feel it pushing inside me and growing out of me. When I fuck you”—and here I should add, D has never fucked me, alas—“you are inside me and outside.”
My eyes dilated. Were the turkeys following me? D continued:
“The dick is mine, and it is in me. I enjoy the sense that the dick is nestled, in the pussy.”
My mind flashes to Adorno, who writes about nestling.1 He doesn’t use the word “dick.” It is the first time something clicks with me; the melancholic attachment to the dick that flares up in the form of guilt, moves through the phantom pussy, and nestles within.
This was the third of three big conversations about my penis problem, and the most recent. From my current perspective, I suppose my penis is hardly a problem for me at all. Years later, I have found myself able to call my penis a “clit,” like we are supposed to, and it doesn’t always feel embarrassing to do so. I’ll probably get bottom surgery one day, years later, but it’s not urgent—I already have an interiority, and I know where it is and what to do with it.
On the way home from the marina, I stop into Hole Foods to pick up a Juggalo Chicken Drink. The year was 2017, and meat-based Juggalo beverages—the beverage wing of the Insane Clown Posse—were everywhere. I’m afraid I got snagged on the marketing jingle that was ubiquitous that year, delivered in that rugged ICP style:
I do the Juggalo chicken juice rap all day, SON
Grab a cup of chicken and I’m on my way, MOM
Juice a tasty chicken I call that “fowl play,” YO
Bottle up the chicken like a poultry FAYGO.
I didn’t even know what “faygo” meant, but it sounded effeminate—in any case, I don’t know much about Juggalo culture. I think I watched Juggalo porn once, but now I recall it, it seems so unlikely: a tiny woman spinning around on her head in front of a very fat man. Not improbable to contemplate in itself, and it feels quite hot, the sense of similarity and difference, like watching Kristin Chenoweth standing next to Allison Janney.
I like soup, in general, and I’m not above a soup-based beverage of almost any kind—I’ve certainly pounded the odd gazpacho like I was beating down a whiskey sour. “Juggalo” was such a good word, like “jugged hare,” a hare braised in its own blood. And then there was the suggestive triptych: chicken, bone, broth.
Chicken: chick, hen, egg, hatch, girl, not a rooster, not a cock.
Bone: fuck, dick, fuck, dick.
Broth: brother, juice, medium, liquor, substrate, reagent.
A bone in a liquor; an egg fuck in a medium, a chick’s dick bone reagent, not-cock-dick-substrate. I don’t even know whether they still sell the Juggalo chicken drinks or not, or whether they ever did outside of California. I’ve moved across the country, and my tastes have changed. But then I’m old-school.
A truly insane clown posse wouldn’t advertise the fact.
I got back to my apartment and kissed Danny, the famous writer who was my boyfriend at the time, and who is now my husband.
“Danny, I have solved my penis problem! Or, rather, my friend D solved it for me,” except I said D’s real name. Reader, you might have thought that my calling my Crohn’s-afflicted mega-top friend “D” was a reference to dick, which would have been very knowing, but the letter really is the initial of their last name. (D, incidentally, believes that they are instantly recognizable from the description contained herein—I suppose there aren’t too many hot, cokehead, Crohn’s-afflicted, mega-top pop-leprechauns in the East Bay. Though if you imagine “Crohn’s” could just refer to any autoimmune condition, I can think of twenty off the top of my head.)
“Oh, darling, I’m so glad,” he responded, boyfriendly. “How so?”
“Well,” I began. “I have been worried that the capacity for these little mini-erections I get every now and then are an existential threat to my transition. I’ve been worried about this because I can’t deny that I enjoy them, and nor can I deny that I enjoy them in a way that feels like an echo of the way I used to enjoy having a functioning dick. So, my dick doesn’t work at present but there is a fragment of trapped, uh, libido, that is stuck inside there and needs some kind of emancipation.”
“I don’t understand,” said simple Danny. God, he was blessed.
“Well, I want to deny or repress the pleasure because I don’t want to seem like a bad or fake transsexual. Nothing would be worse! Remember The Silence of the Lambs?”
That, he did.
“So, I don’t want to be like that. But I can’t deny that I do experience pleasure in my dick, and the way in which I experience that pleasure is both psychically and anatomically distinct! Do you see my problem?”
That, too, he did.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to pretend not to feel pleasure? But it can be difficult to avow the kinds of pleasure that one does feel. When one is a ‘transsexual’—,” I added, making clear from my tone that “transsexual” was a word I placed in scare quotes.
At this point, I realized that my friend Sarah was also in the room, standing behind me, and she responded to my anxiety in this way:
“Grace, I’m so glad that you’re already able to acknowledge this. Some trans women, it takes years. It can be so difficult. You’re killing it, baby. I love you.”
“I love you too, Sarah,” I replied. It was true.
“Okay, you two, I’ve got to head out,” said Sarah, and just walked out of the apartment, having delivered what I had to admit was a sprezzatura cameo.
“So, anyway, I was speaking with D about this and of course as you know they have a complex relation to genitals in general, and they talked about the particular paradigm of wearing a strapless dildo, rooted inside them, and then using that as a phallus. Like, it is not exactly the ‘lesbian phallus’ in the Judith Butler sense (which is already a term placed under a certain kind of erasure) because it is a phallus whose location is important.2 The phallus is already inside something.”
“Like a yolk,” Danny said, looking at the half-finished Juggalo Chicken Drink I had just placed on the counter, which had a big picture of an egg on the packaging.
“Exactly! Now you’re really getting it!”
Danny paused. Then:
“I like the idea of a dick in a medium. I’m not sure there’s too much more to this idea than that?”
“I think it’s an incredibly rich and suggestive image! A yolk in a drink of chicken: binding the child in its own amniotic medium. A synthetic object that accomplishes the phallic task that a mere penis is bound to fail to perform, but one that is rooted inside the body, in a manner that privileges the pussy as an active force in fucking!”
“Are you sure it’s active? It sounds a little like it’s just a slightly different way of thinking about vaginal passivity.”
“Ugh, why do you get to be Socrates, asshole?” I huffed, impatiently.
But that was hot, so I brushed up towards him and pushed my soft bosom into his face. I ran my hand through his hair and tousled it.
“Danny, Danny, Danny, always so cynical,” I mused.
I pulled him up by the hair and led him into the bedroom. I pushed him onto the bed and tore off his pastel purple t-shirt with my hands, exposing his large surgical scars. I allowed myself to look at them, to drink in the elegance of this new chest. “Plucky” is one word that I have for it.
Danny was a little annoyed at how roughly he had been handled, or was at least pretending to be annoyed. I love it when I can’t tell. I let my fingers move along the ridge of his scars, across his body. He scrunched up his lips into a little moue, and I smiled back at him.
There are two ways to get Danny to open his mouth when he doesn’t want to. The first is to put my fingers over his nostrils so that he has to open his mouth to breathe. The other is to ask him a direct question that he won’t be able to resist answering. These tricks are useful because Danny sometimes likes to tighten up his mouth in a sexy little sulk, as though the game were to stuff one’s whole fist into his oral cavity without applying any pressure.
This time I went for the nose technique. When he gasped for air, I slipped the index and middle fingers of my right hand between his lips, and onto his tongue. He smiled, defeated. I curled up my ring and pinky fingers outside of his mouth, and then tucked them in too. Finally I placed my thumb in the middle of my hand, and placed my whole fist inside his mouth. My fist was now a knot that connected us through his face, radiating up through my arm and down through his neck as though parts of the same unbroken cable. Danny’s back began to arch—it is somehow a nautical maneuver, the kind that sailors might have deployed, and it began to feel as though we were on a boat.
I straddled him, smiling. His mouth gaped open on all sides, and the corners began to bend into a smile. “I love you,” I said, and he burbled comically from under my fist: mmmmmmuffmmmmoooo. I stroked his beautiful cheek with my left hand, delighting in the burrs of his beard, a few days out from the last shave.
Eventually I pulled my hand out of his face, and moved it down his body towards his genitals, which were profoundly aroused. I fucked him with my hand until he came; I didn’t break eye contact the entire time; it was very satisfying.
As I held him in my arms afterwards, we cooed and brr-ed, until he said:
“Baby I think my real concern here isn’t the point about vaginal passivity. Like, that’s not a problem you’re going to solve at this stage anyway, and I can already see how D’s version of this is more complicated than the usual ways in which I tend to think about things. I guess my bigger worry is just that you’re once again turning to memoir to try to access the truth of trans life.”
“As opposed to?”
“Like, as opposed to history, or anthropology, or I don’t know, what about lyric poetry, or maybe some kind of historical fiction? And people love sci-fi.”
“Well, first, I guess I do think there’s some anthropological dimension to memoir that I’ve been thinking about recently, and that lyric isn’t a fundamentally distinct class of enunciation. And then also I just like—I mean, I’m like a George Eliot person, or whatever, the most difficult thing is just to say what something feels like; like I guess that’s phenomenology—”
I had made my case less persuasively than anticipated. Danny was kind in his response:
“I just mean, expositions of trans life as it is lived is sort of the only genre that trans people have historically been allowed to work in.”
“Well, I’ve not been allowed to work in it.”
(That was a better argument, I thought.)
“But if you insist,” I continued, “what about this: somewhere in the middle of space is the planet Gronglattflaps, and on the planet of Grongrattflaps everyone has a dick in the middle of their pussy, and that’s what genitals are.”
“Yes,” Danny replied, sarcastically, “because that’s exactly what science fiction sounds like.”
“My point is that it’s just an idea delivery system, I’m not really interested in genre. Except porn, I guess that’s the other genre I’m interested in.”
“The other genre trans people have been allowed to work in.”
“There’s a Sybil Lamb line about that, actually,” I said, “but we don’t need to go into that right now.”
We lay in bed together, avoiding our agents, worrying that we had nothing left to say to each other or anyone else.
“I guess the problem is that nothing really interests me except my own thoughts,” one of us said, eventually.
The following day was Monday, and I received an anonymous note in the mail. It was postmarked New York, NY, and the handwritten address read:
Prof. Grace Lavery
The “New Professor”
California, United States of America
On the back of the envelope was a doodle, the kind of doodle one leaves on the back of an envelope that happens to be in front of one when one is caught on the phone with a distressed relative. Poking out above the fold was a crude rendition of a sinister clown, black eyed and gothy—dankly reminiscent of something one might find on the packet of a poultry potation.
This wasn’t the first time I’d received an odd letter at work. My first year on the faculty I had received an enveloped postmarked San Diego which contained (a) a very short essay offering a history of the Japanese navy’s conduct during the First World War, (b) glossy, magazine-style photographs of American military personnel stationed in Southeast Asia, with my faculty profile picture cut out and stuck onto the background, and (c) the typescript of what seemed to have been an old racist ballad about Japan.
I had taken it to the campus cops—I wouldn’t do that now—and they said, “Professor Lavery, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that everyone gets one of these. The bad news is that this jabroni does seem to have a few less spices than the average cut of salami—the cut-out photographs are a new development.”
So anyway, I opened the envelope and inside was a note written in Courier, unmarked and unsigned, that read as follows:
So, I don’t want to sound like a nutball here, but it’s time for a real true confession: I’m frightened of a clown. I’m wary of his eccentric manner and his unusual appearance. His choices make me feel ill at ease, and the language he uses—well, I find it unnerving. No, this is not satire, friend—I really am just plain bloody chilled by a clown, and if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not see him when he comes to my town, or invite him to my house for any purpose.
I know this sounds crackers. “What, a little insane clown man, America’s sweetheart?” you’re probably saying. And it’s true. Suddenly it seems like the clowns are everywhere, doesn’t it? Like the sakura blooms at festival. Like tarragon in my Uncle Buster’s imaginative twist on the mint julep. Flowers swell fat with clowns and out they burst, young and masculine and juicy. One runs a digit over the pod and inside it, and finds the merry shards that provide so many American children with genteel delight.
Yet I am afeared of his taste in music, which I find perverse; and perhaps I find it worse yet than that. I demur from his sexual habits, which he insists on broadcasting. I find his prose style off-putting, and though I am not among those who will hold him solely responsible on that point, nor will I submit myself to further questioning on the matter. I will confess that the little clown fellow of whom I speak I find to be quite thoroughly overrated on that front and many more besides. I wonder at the judgment of those who have supported his career so far. To me, it is as though he has some kind of malevolent hold over his benefactors—though of course I don’t wish my own distaste to slip into outlandish and paranoid stereotype. This particular clown just isn’t for me, that’s all.
I see his face before me as I write, and to be perfectly candid, I find it quite unpleasant to contemplate. I understand that others may find his red nose to indicate merriment, but to me it seems crass. Many would find this clown’s smile, which stretches warmly between his ears, to be welcoming and playful, but frankly, I think it verges on the sinister. His playful tufts of hair, which sprout at irregular intervals across his face and neck? Not to my taste at all, I’m afraid.
For example: does he commit crimes, this clown man? Personally, I wouldn’t aver it—although, now I ponder the matter more carefully, I wonder whether perhaps he shoplifts from time to time, or texts while he’s driving. In most people I would consider these small infractions to be charming, evidence of an appealing rebellious streak. But in the little clown man, I find them pettifogging and dishonest. Why should he flout rules that the rest of us are obliged to follow, which we mostly do, to the best of our ability? I wonder, even, whether it isn’t further evidence of that willful cast of mind that underlies many of the qualities I find least tolerable in him—his insistent being, his presence, his refusal to disappear or die off, as I would that he would.
It has taken me a while to realize that I’m not made angry by him, as I initially thought. I believed that I wished to exterminate him by my own hand, to show him what it feels like, and to say, “ha, now YOU know what it feels like,” so that he would know what it feels like when someone says that to you. Not nice, in short! But no, it’s not anger, not at root. At its base, I am afraid of what makes a little clown man tick, of his quiddity, his characteristic essence. I shudder when I contemplate his innards. I worry, frankly, that he may have guts much like mine—indistinguishable from mine, even, perhaps, under that lovely round belly of his. What if his guts are identical to mine? The thought quite unravels me—I find myself disappearing into an echo, a hollow whisper in my own cheeks.
I am chary of a little clown man. Should I see him, I will surely repeat several merciless social maneuvers. First, in all likelihood, I shall receive him coolly in the presence of others. Others will be left in no doubt concerning the nature of our relationship. Second, I shall make dismissive eyes upon him, and tilt my hips just so, to ensure that he knows that, to my mind, he doesn’t belong here. Third, I shall talk dismissively of his field of expertise without acknowledging that such is it. Fourth, when I leave his company, I shall conspicuously neglect to wish him farewell, but simply wander off carelessly, tossing my head perhaps as if to say, “look at me, I have just thwarted a clown.”
- “A gleeful middle finger to the expectations of trans memoir… complex, multi-layered, enchanting.”—them
- "With a singular sense of wryness and ribaldry, Lavery charts the course of her gender transition."—Tomi Obaro, Buzzfeed
- “A smart and funny memoir spanning addiction and gender transition, queer theory and standup comedy.”—The Guardian, Most Anticipated Books of 2022
- "Lavery's wild, genre-busting tale of gender transition, addiction and multiple varieties of chaos is both riotously intelligent and dazzlingly hilarious."—Evening Standard (London)
- “Grace Lavery’s unabashed and tantalizing book queers the memoir genre in multiple senses, taking readers on a wild ride through the author’s multitudinous identities.”—Electric Lit, Most Anticipated Books of 2022
“In this genre-busting work of memoir (or auto-fiction?), Grace Lavery embarks on a myriad of misadventures, including receiving anonymous letters from cultish clowns and starring in a David Lynch remake of Sunset Boulevard.”
—Autostraddle, Winter preview
- “Lavery takes a novel approach to the memoir. Melding it with fiction, theory and analysis of popular culture, the result is an untamed beast… weird and wonderful.”—Irish Times
“Rocking a finely-honed, larger-than-life authorial persona…Lavery’s shattered expectations with an inventive and provocative memoir.”
—The Herald (Scotland)
- “Imagine a graduate lit theory seminar interrupted every few minutes by a back-row prankster who has a knack for making the whole room blush. Lavery's ideas float high out of reach at times, but if you grab one, it might just rearrange your thinking around sexuality, freedom, and what it takes to mine joy from this broken world.”—The Week
- “A surreal speculative memoir… Lavery aims to rub out the dividing line between the intellectual and the bawdy. Recounting how she solved her “penis problem” and began taking synthetic estrogen, Lavery explores transcendental erotic self‑realization, her history of drug and alcohol use, and the paradigmatic concept of the penis through absurdist tall tales.”—Publisher's Weekly
- "Never shy at finding the humor in even the most mundane of situations, Lavery hilariously recounts her life as a trans woman in the public eye. Her relationship with fellow writer Danny Lavery comes into focus with her trademark wit and occasional self‑deprecation. The construction and artificiality, the boundaries, the beauty—it’s all here, in Lavery’s body and the bodies of lovers and friends."—Library Journal
- “This is the queer memoir you've been waiting for; a dizzying mix of theory and pastiche, metafiction and memory. Please Miss is Terry Castle meets Lauren Slater meets Michelle Tea; hilarious and sexy and terrifying in its brilliance. But don't worry—Lavery is an avalanche you'll be glad to be buried under.”—Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House and Her Body and Other Parties
- “Grace Lavery’s Please Miss is a polychromatic, wild and joyous gambol through a world which is like ours but blessedly twisted… Come for the laugh out loud miniature windsock on page one, stay for the fascinating analysis of a discarded pig part in Jude the Obscure, end up profoundly moved and profoundly grateful for this supremely intelligent, innovative, and important tale which is, as Lavery brilliantly puts it, ‘like all the rest, different from all the rest.’”—Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
- “Grace Lavery's memoir – if that's what it is? – is a daring, perverse, mind-blowing, intellectual, hilarious, outrageous, inspired work of art that somehow is touchingly sincere while giving no fucks whatsoever. I read this laughing out loud, clutching my pearls, my mind exploding in wonder. This meditation on trans bodies, queer sex, pop culture, academia, and fantasy rips open bold and badly needed new terrain in literature.”—Michelle Tea, author of Against Memoir and Black Wave
- “Hot, sick, painfully vivid.”—Sophie Lewis, author of Full Surrogacy Now
- “Please Miss is a wickedly smart and filthily funny mosaic of criticism, memoir, and autofiction that is refreshingly avant-garde, profoundly erotic, and as enthralling as an intimate all-night conversation with the brainy high femme BFF you wish you had. I wish it upon everyone.”—Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me
- “An unclassifiable pastiche of genuine beauty, a meta-memoir that takes its humor as seriously as its philosophy. Lush, louche, and utterly virtuosic, Please Miss takes a puff off a cigarette, and blooms an astonishing constellation of linked vignettes, an argument given in undercurrent, in root systems, in smoke. Please Miss gives us what we came for and then the much more for which we did not know we could come.”—Jordy Rosenberg, author of Confessions of the Fox
- “In the way that excellent style always blurs the question of genre, Grace Lavery shows how excellent style can blur gender with equal verve. This book reframes the question of transition from the familiar journey from A to B, and replaces that journey with a can’t-look-away performance of wit, language, irreverence, and delight so compelling that a reader forgets about destinations all together.”—Torrey Peters, author of Infect Your Friends and Loved Ones and Detransition, Baby
- “I met Grace when she was still an egg (trans talk for folx who don't know yet that they're trans) and think hers is perhaps the most spectacular, fully formed hatching since Minerva sprang from the head of Zeus.”—Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today's Revolution, founding editor of Transgender Studies Quarterly, Emmy Award-winning director of Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria
- “Grace Lavery has somehow managed to blend a rich overview of trans philosophy and theory with a languid, playful sexuality and humor that radiates from every page. It’s a work of great seriousness that doesn’t take itself seriously at all, and as long as I live I will never figure out how she did it.”—Nicole Cliffe, author, columnist, editor of The Toast
- “Please Miss will awe you with its swung prose, its hairpin generic turns, and its bouts of gleeful self-scrutiny. These formal extroversions are part of the book’s argument and a deep insurrectionist pleasure in themselves. One chapter through and you’re ready to draw with Lavery, stand with her, hold with her.”—Paul Saint-Amour, Walter H. & Leonore C. Annenberg Professor in the Humanities, University of Pennsylvania
- “Please Miss cheerfully explodes the trans memoir as political and rhetorical apparatus, refusing norms of uplift or disclosure or cis reader reassurance in favor of the messy magic of a joyfully plural existence. You will annoy loved ones because you’re going to read big chunks of this out loud to them and their jaws will drop at the chutzpah of Grace abounding.”—Drew Daniel, of the band Matmos, Associate Professor of English at Johns Hopkins University
- “Always smart, frequently funny, and sometimes—always tastefully, I assure you—gut-wrenchingly moving, Grace Lavery’s Please Miss is brilliant from start to finish. It’s a howling tale of trans life, addiction, sex, love, loss, and this maddening and delightful meat out of which we are made. Packed as it is with delicious fabulation and sticky detail, the book makes a profound statement about not only what it means to be trans, but also what it means to be meaty, enfleshed, sexed, throbbing with desire, reeling from loss, ragged, loved and pleasured, carved and sutured, and, above all, struggling to find words for any and all of it. What a book! And have I mentioned it’s an absolute delight to read?”—Gabriel Rosenberg, Associate Professor of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies at Duke University
- On Sale
- Feb 8, 2022
- Page Count
- 304 pages
- Seal Press