MY LIFE AS A BOY by Kim Chernin

MY LIFE AS A BOY

A Woman's Story

KIRKUS REVIEW

 A book, slim as a 10-year-old's silhouette and foggy as an adolescent fantasy, about a retreat from femininity, an attempt by the author to transform herself into a boy. Author Chernin (Cecilia Bartoli: The Passion of Song, p. 109; In My Father's Garden, 1993; etc.) has explored desire, food, mom, dad, and psychoanalysis in a series of largely narcissistic hikes through the psyche. We are all self-obsessed, but some of us are more self-obsessed than others; Chernin rates a ten. Married and with a college-bound daughter from an earlier relationship as this book begins, Chernin was a typical Berkeley matron, ``ample and proud of it,'' wearing ``low-cut long dresses.'' Her transformation began at a typical Berkeley event, a demonstration against the death of a tree, when Chernin found herself wrapping her jacket protectively around the shoulders of a sobbing stranger. That woman was to come back into her life, but not until after a lengthy, convoluted, and unconsummated romance with a tall, elegant woman named Hadamar. For love of Hadamar (surely the name alone enchants), Chernin went from ample matron to slim-hipped, flat-chested youth, doffing her long dresses and donning a sailor shirt and jeans in an attempt to transform herself into what Hadamar wanted. Chernin becomes what she thinks boys are--assertive, impetuous, adventurous--but she cannot in the end become the dominant male. She leaves Hadamar, to find fulfillment later with another woman. Like Virginia Woolf in Orlando, Chernin writes as if she were describing a long dream. But Woolf informs readers about the mysteries of gender; Chernin manages little more than a change of costume. (First serial to Utne Reader)

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1997
ISBN: 1-56512-163-5
Page count: 210pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997




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