Sunday, October 28, 2007

The First Man-Made Man (review)

So I read The First Man-Made Man by Pagan Kennedy not long ago, and I’m going to ‘fess up: this book really bothered me. The research seemed solid. The topic was interesting & book-worthy. But it was also somewhat repetitive, and I felt the plot arch was mis-played; you find out too much of the story upfront, & so there isn’t so much story to keep up the second half of the book.

But that’s not what bothered me so much: the tone of the book was remarkably condescending. The interview with the monk at the end just felt like a dick joke. & A lot of the time, the narration made me so uncomfortable I really just wanted to read the actual manuscript the first trans man wrote, instead. (Although from what I hear, no one seems to know if a copy exists at all anymore, or not.)

Don’t get me wrong: this is a valuable & interesting book & really gets at how remarkably new the tech was; I especially enjoyed the section on the early practitioners of plastic surgery. But it just felt to me that the author never really believed he was a guy at all, which strikes me as a remarkably unsympathetic way to write about not just transness, but about a trans man who was so inexorably alone as a trans person. Michael Dillon strikes me as a remarkable soul who had a tremendous amount of integrity and bravery, and frankly, this book gives you just enough about him to know that the book didn’t do him justice.

1 comment:

vince said...

that is really sad that the author never considered Michael to be a man. That just seems like a horrible way to handle the subject. i feel like he should be referred to by the gender that he decided for himself.

and not to be a shameless promoter or anything, but i am planning on making a short animated film about a young transwoman in the operating room for her srs. i wanted to have transpeople share some of their experiences with me, troulbes they've had with passing or family, or inspiring stories, because while i put memories and such of my own into it, it isn't real enough for me, because i haven't gone through this. i've had gender identity issues, but nothing like a transitioning person would, and i wanted to make my character more believable. so if anyone who posts on here has a good story to tell, if you would like to send me it, i would be more than happy to try my best to work it in. i'll be even more than happy to credit you in the piece as well. so thanks ahead of time and i certainly hope that this isn't considered in poor taste.