Thursday, July 03, 2008
My book club friends are going to laugh, if not heartily at least under their collective breath, but the book I picked up at Emily’s Used Books in Nisswa, Minnesota was “Trans-Sister Radio” by Chris Bohjolian. Our group enjoyed Bohjolian’s “The Double Bind” so much that we chose to read “Midwives”, making our discussion back to back Bohjolian. Then I was at the library and checked out his latest book “Skeletons at the Feast” which I wasn’t super fond of and thought that, perhaps, I was just Bohjo-ed out. But then, in the far reaches of northern Minnesota, I found a Bohjo book that I hadn’t yet read. I did what any traveling obsessive reader would do, I pulled it off the shelf and took it on the road with me.
“Trans-Sister Radio” is the story of Allison and Dana. Allison is a divorced elementary school teacher living in a small Vermont town with her daughter Carly, who is getting ready for her first year of college. Dana is a professor at the local university. Allison is a student in his class on literature and film. Allison and Dana become friends and eventually begin a romantic relationship, both falling in love more deeply than either of them had ever fallen before. What Allison doesn’t know is that Dana is in the final stages of gender re-assignment, preparing for the surgery that will change him from a genetic male into a physiological woman. Allison has to decide what to do with this new relationship, whether to stay with the person she has fallen in love with or to end it and avoid the controversy that inevitably will come with it.
Each chapter is told from the perspective of either Allison, Dana, Carly or Will, Allison’s ex-husband, allowing the reader to see this supremely complex issue, if the soul or spirit of a person has a specific gender, from multiple perspectives. Thanks again for reading with me. Next time, we’re going old school, really old school