... groundbreaking ... a road-trip novel that refuses to go anywhere, in which people aren’t locked into linear narratives. Life stories pool in stasis or loop around on themselves. The challenge for Binnie’s characters is to be in the moment, not to reach some foreordained gendered goal ... The narrative doesn’t resolve; neither the past nor the future is fixed. But Binnie’s love of her characters, of their confusion, of their insights and of their language produces its own catharsis of sorts ... Here and now, the novel makes as much sense (if not more) as it did nine years ago when it was first published. In the middle of a trans panic, with transphobes demanding that love, work, achievement and gender all follow the same cis narrative timetable, Nevada steals a car, walks off the job and drives someplace else.
Binnie welds a fierce new voice in an expertly delivered narrative ... The irresistible cadence of Maria Griffith is a seamless stream of consciousness about identity, queer politics, feelings, pop culture, and, well, life ... Binnie is a master of realism in her fiction. What’s more, she slips between narrators with Madame Bovary-like precision, reeling between thoughts from James and Maria, as well as Maria’s girlfriend and James’ girlfriend, seamlessly within a scene. Not only is it a joy to see the voice of such a strong trans woman narrator on the page, but it is also electric to have that voice appear in such an expertly woven narrative ... Binnie allows the novel to find its own ending, avoiding any clichés or sentimental tropes that could befall a trans woman and her young probably-trans friend. Queer novels are often deemed readable because they’re queer. Here’s a queer novel that’s readable because it’s queer, and it’s unlike anything you’ve read before.
... defiant, terse, not quite cynical, sometimes flip (where Feinberg is bluntly earnest), addressed to people who think they know. It is, if you like, punk rock ... And Binnie knows punk rock ... Binnie’s deadpan, offhand narration makes clear how little the plot is the point. Instead, Nevada introduces its readers to a trans woman’s consciousness from the inside, telling us things we might have expressed in blog posts or e-mails or song lyrics but would not yet have seen in prose fiction—certainly not in realist prose fiction about adults ... Authenticity, not uplift, is the point; it isn’t a book about collective struggles for civil rights, although it is a book about people who have white privilege and still can’t take those rights for granted. You don’t need a fire alarm going off if you can already see that your kitchen’s in flames. You might, though, need safe ways to leave the house. And Maria has always needed to leave the house ... a book about leaving, about rejecting, about saying no: no to the standard Trans 101 narrative, in which, before transition, we’re all suicidal and, after transition, we’re all happily indistinguishable from cisgender people, unless we become doomed sex workers; no to the expectations that books about trans people written for cis people usually meet ... says no—wryly, elegantly, entertainingly—to other literary tropes, too ... The novel brilliantly contrasts the useful things Maria says with the dumb things she does ... Binnie’s audacity was to address an audience—a community, an us—that hadn’t quite seen itself this way before. Knowing a lot about being trans, we might even, like Maria, believe we know enough to teach someone else. Then again, like Maria, we might not be half as wise as we think. It’s O.K. At least we can play in the band.
... is as powerful a read in 2022 as it was in 2013 ... I was not the book’s target audience, but I still felt lucky when I read it for the first time those many years ago, like I’d been let in on a secret. But in reading the reprint of Binnie’s book, I was a bit envious that a work of transmasculine fiction on par with Nevada had not existed for me earlier in my journey—though I would argue that I have found such literary and philosophical shoring-up in later years ... not just a story, though it is a classic story in the broad strokes of its narrative arc; it is a philosophical investigation into what it means to be a woman, trans or not, in late-stage capitalism. Nevada reckons with what it means to decide if the present world is a place worth living in when the teeming potentialities of society, or the self, are yet to be realized. Binnie has written a punk ontological argument riding undercover as a classic, disaffected road-trip tale ... Binnie gorgeously voices both characters’ inner lives ... James’s perspective is perfectly rendered through a fog of stoned shut-down ... Those who want a tidy ending, a perfect denouement, might feel chapped by the lack of obvious conclusion to both characters’ stories. Some might even argue that the novel lacks plot, though I disagree. The open-endedness at the conclusion of Nevada is genius in form, as well as content. Not only does Binnie eschew cis mainstream expectations of a trans story, she also messes in a punk-as-fuck way with conventional expectations of narrative. Rather than leaving the story unresolved, Binnie leaves these characters ongoing ... Rereading this philosophical, hilarious, sharp novel reminded me that no matter what help might be offered, no matter what support might exist, no matter where we live—small, shitty town or booming cultural epicenter— transition is ultimately something one must confront and wade through alone. Many of us found our north star through literature, and Nevada shines brightly on the western horizon for readers, trans and cis alike, who refuse to buy into the status quo.
It’s easy to see why it has reached cult status. Nevada is a delight to read ... Maria is stuck in her own existence; Nevada bears witness to her stuck-ness. It was among the first contemporary novels to treat a trans woman’s story in a complicated, nuanced way, not relying on transition for storytelling momentum or treating it as a guaranteed happy ending ... I’d argue that Nevada is also important for a different reason: It is among the first great bookseller books. Bookselling—by which I mean working in a bookstore, as opposed to owning one—is labor, and Nevada is as much about class and labor as it is about transness and gender. Of course, the two are thoroughly intertwined, both because money affects transition ... succeeds at telling Maria’s specific story precisely because Binnie pays attention to the details, and horrors, of her work ... Binnie evokes the mundane reality of bookselling in detail vivid enough that stockroom dust practically rises from the page ... spiky and enjoyable ... Nevada isn’t about the reader, which is to say it’s not about the giver. It’s about Maria, who has no interest in anyone’s empathy—and yet she, too, tries to display her own ... both a good and an important book for precisely that reason: Binnie lets readers look squarely at the world Maria inhabits, complete with the limitations of a grinding, ill-paid job. It’s easy, once we’ve done that, to understand how badly she needs something more.
If you have transitioned, you don’t need a transition story. You have your own. What you need are books about how to live your life, after. The standard trans memoir has little to say about that. The story ends before we get to the part where transition makes your body livable and the rest of your life—not ... Not the least remarkable thing about Nevada is that the very thing that the whole narrative structure of trans memoir is meant to resolve is never resolved ... has a subtle grasp on our complicity in our own oppression ... consolidated and offers the trans reader more to think about in terms of ways to move forward through one’s post-transition life ... Binnie had a particularly fine grasp of the possibilities but also the limits of trans culture in the earlier years of this century. It is rather to say that trans lit, if there’s to be such a thing, still has work to do.
Throughout, she indulges in long inner monologues, soliloquies that quickly grow tiresome. There’s something immature about Maria and something pat about her thinking. Neither James nor the reader ultimately stands to learn much from spending time in her company.
... funny, free-wheeling ... This cult novel, brimming with ideas and arguments that only occasionally impede the narrative, was first published in 2013 by indie Topside Press. It’s been reissued with a new afterword by the author, who recounts its passionate reception by trans readers ... What’s it like to be a trans woman? This heady novel offers one indelible perspective.