The debut memoir of P. Carl’s journey to become the man he always knew himself to be. For fifty years, he lived as a girl and a queer woman, building a career, a life, and a loving marriage, yet still waiting to realize himself in full.
One of the most striking effects of Carl’s 'doubling' is the insight it offers into how difficult it is to be a good man ... a book that could easily span several books, but its ambition is to be all-encompassing, to lay all of its contradictions in one space and see what complicated truths arise. Depending on one’s desire for narrative unity, this can feel, at times, a bit jarring. Carl chooses not to dramatize the ending to several plot threads, most notably the story of how he and D’Amico healed their marriage. Nearing its final pages, I had scrawled so many questions in the margins that I began to question the nature of my curiosity. A new thought emerged: that this is one of the risks and delights of a good memoir. If the writer has done the job well, the reader falls in love — and one principal feature of love is that it craves access to every part of you.
... wondrous ... Carl also addresses issues of white male privilege, which he unapologetically embraces after being invisible most of his life. Yet he is acutely aware of the toxic masculinity that shapes mainstream culture, from Brett Kavanaugh to the current occupant of the White House, a poison he hopes to transcend. Carl has written a poignant and candid self-appraisal of life as 'a work in progress.'
Carl marks his debut with a series of chapters that read more like individual essays than a continuous narrative ... Introspective and self-interrogating, this story of gender transition offers a nuanced perspective, which helps pluralize and diversify descriptions of the experience. Carl’s prose is generally clear, though in the chapter Traveling with Men, a story that details a hiking expedition and which juggles several personalities, Carl sometimes struggles with clarity. But throughout, Carl offers a level of intimacy and self-reflection that is fairly unique, especially given the highly personal content ... This is a memoir of the present, without closure or resolution, and the narrative sometimes feels incomplete or unsatisfying. Still, many readers will appreciate Carl’s honesty and perhaps read this work alongside Charlie Cragg’s excellent anthology, To My Trans Sisters.