Maria Griffiths is almost thirty and works at a used bookstore in New York City while trying to stay true to her punk values. She’s in love with her bike but not with her girlfriend, Steph. She takes random pills and drinks more than is good for her, but doesn’t inject anything except, when she remembers, estrogen, because she’s trans. Everything is mostly fine until Maria and Steph break up, sending Maria into a tailspin, and then onto a cross-country trek in the car she steals from Steph. Originally published in 2013 by Topside Press.
... 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.