Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl
Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early 90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation.
‘One of the most exciting – and one of the most fun – novels of the decade.’ – Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You
It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure.
Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.
‘Playful, sexy, smart’ – Carmen Maria Machado
‘Evocative and urgent . . . and very funny’ – Observer
‘”90s punk Orlando”. . . a pretty wild ride’ – Dazed & Confused
‘Sexy, outrageous, completely compulsive’ – Daisy Johnson
Loved this book. Smart and funny. * Tracey Thorn * In Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, Andrea Lawlor manages to define queerness in a way few books have been able to achieve * Skinny * Best described as "90s punk Orlando". . . The book is a pretty wild ride * Dazed and Confused * I'm loving Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor. It's pulling at my little queer midwestern heartstrings to read magical Paul navigate desire and friendship in his body that he can change into whatever shape or sex he wants. -- Danez Smith, author of Don't Call Us Dead It's not hard to see why Lawlor's been heralded at the forefront of trans literature. This is an original addition to the trans fiction canon. * Dazed and Confused * It's an epic, but set in 1990s alternative communities from Iowa to San Francisco, with a brief detour via Chicago. A lot of the book is a commentary on the minutiae of subcultures. It's a mythic structure - Paul is this seducer who has the ability to switch genders, so Paul can become Polly. It's an insane and amazing book - it references queer literature and theory, but it's super funny and sexy. * AnOther * Lawlor successfully mixes pop culture, gender theory, and smut, but the great achievement here is that Paul is no mere symbol but a vibrantly yearning being, "like everybody else, only more so." * New Yorker * Lawlor has a poet's gift for catching quicksilver emotion in the amber of an image, a novelist's gift for the epoch-defining detail, a mystic's gift for inventing new language for rapture. Joyous and ever-changing, whip-smart and brilliantly perverse, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is quite simply one of the most exciting-and one of the most fun-novels of the decade. -- Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You Fast-paced and cheeky . . . Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is a touchingly sweet-hearted and deeply cool book . . . you won't be able to put this book down. -- Michelle Tea, author of Black Wave Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is playful, sexy, smart, and like nothing else I-or you-have ever read before. -- Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties I am such a fan. Andrea Lawlor's prose is restless, muscular and playful . . . It's a tight satisfying masterpiece -- Eileen Myles, author of Chelsea Girls Despite being unapologetically queer, is a book that deserves to break out of the LGBT speciality bookshops . . . Lawlor's writing is evocative and urgent . . . and very funny * Observer * I love this book, in all its ecstasy, wit, and hilarity . . . The liberatory rush of Lawlor's writing is as rare as it is contagious, not to mention HOT. Paul is on fire, and an antihero for the ages. -- Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts Playful and sexy, Lawlor's novel is a hymn to the pleasures of gender fluidity - but also a tribute to queer theory, LGBT communities and to reading itself. * Guardian *
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