Thursday, 10 November 2016

Nevada // Imogen Binnie

You may know I'm doing a masters by research in gender studies, and my thesis is focusing on trans* representation in literature; as such I am reading a ton of books with trans* characters in, to get a feel for what's out there and to begin my research. While I stayed up waiting to find out the election results, I finally finished Nevada by Imogen Binnie.

I'll admit, this took me longer to read than it should because it's a pretty short book - but I just didn't feel as though I could keep going with it. Honestly, I was bored for a lot of it. This book is angry and political and so am I but sometimes, in a novel, that's not what I want. I know that the topic, the whole idea of being trans, is often angry and political and we need to talk about it, and I do talk about it, and I will. But I didn't expect this novel to be a rant, to be angry words about society and social constructs and how the world is against marginalised groups. Which it totally is, don't get me wrong.


But Nevada, to me, could have been so much more than it was. I hated the casual style of writing, with 'Whatever.' thrown in as a single sentence almost every other paragraph, with 'like' dropped in constantly (I'm a hypocrite, if my Twitter is anything to go by, but I don't use 'like' in my writing). I hated that the narrator wasn't the main character (a trans woman called Maria) but their voices seemed one and the same - I didn't get it, I got muddled up, I couldn't work out why you wouldn't just write the book in first person.

Maria's character was completely unlikeable, and I don't know if that was the point, but she only cared about herself and although she recognised it, she made me uncomfortable. But even so, she didn't really ever do much - it was all monologues and melodrama and weird bullshit. There was a loose plot but nothing memorable, really. Maria drank a lot and rode her bike around New York and shaved every day with boiling water, wore too many clothes and sort-of stole her ex's car but not really.

The point is, Imogen Binnie makes some brilliant, valid and worthwhile points in this novel - I just wish she hadn't done it in this novel. She'd be an incredible essay writer, or blogger, or journalist. Whatever, as she would say.

Have you read Nevada - if so, let me know what you thought!


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