She's Not There : A Life in Two Genders
Jennifer Finney Boylan
Broadway; 1st edition (July, 2003)
The exuberant memoir of a man named James who became a woman named Jenny. She's Not There is the story of a person changing genders, the story of a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret; above all, it is a love story. By turns funny and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the remarkable territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. She's Not There is a portrait of a loving marriage-the love of James for his wife, Grace, and, against all odds, the enduring love of Grace for the woman who becomes her "sister," Jenny. To this extraordinary true story, Boylan brings the humorous, fresh voice that won her accolades as one of the best comic novelists of her generation. With her distinctive and winning perspective, She's Not There explores the dramatic outward changes and unexpected results of life as a woman: Jenny fights the urge to eat salad, while James consumed plates of ribs; gone is the stability of "one damn mood, all the damn time." While Boylan's own secret was unusual, to say the least, she captures the universal sense of feeling uncomfortable, out of sorts with the world, and misunderstood by her peers. Jenny is supported on her journey by her best friend, novelist Richard Russo, who goes from begging his friend to "Be a man" (in every sense of the word) to accepting her as an attractive, buoyant woman. "The most unexpected thing," Russo writes in his Afterword to the book, "is in how Jenny's story we recognize our shared humanity." As James evolves into Jennifer in scenes that are by turns tender, startling, and witty, a marvelously human perspective emerges on issues of love, sex, and the fascinating relationship between our physical and our intuitive selves. Through the clear eyes of a truly remarkable woman, She's Not There provides a new window on the often confounding process of accepting ourselves.
"[SHE'S NOT THERE is] Serious, real, funny. Told so disarmingly that it's strong enough to defang a taboo."
"Beautifully crafted, fearless, painfully honest, inspiring and extremely witty. Jennifer Finney Boylan is an exquisite writer with a fascinating story and this combination has resulted in one of the most remarkable, moving and unforgettable memoirs in recent history."
?Augusten Burroughs, author of Running With Scissors
"In addition to being a complete delight, this book should make us all question what we mean when we use the words love, marriage, and friendship. Jennifer Finney Boylan is a great gift to womanhood."
?Haven Kimmel, author of A Girl Named Zippy
About the Author
Jennifer Finney Boylan is a widely praised author and professor. Edward Albee summed up her oeuvre in 1988: -- "Boylan observes carefully, and with love. [Her] levitating wit is wisely tethered to a humane concern?. I often broke into laughter, and was now and again, struck with wonder."
Jenny's memoir, She's Not There, published by Doubleday in 2003, was the first bestselling work by a transgendered American; until 2001 she published under the name James Boylan.
Jenny has been a frequent guest on a number of national television and radio programs, including three visits to the Oprah Winfrey Show. She has also appeared on the Larry King Show, The Today Show and been the subject of a documentary on CBS' 48 Hours. She has also appeared on a wide range of local and syndicated television shows, as well as NPR's Marketplace and the Diane Rehm show.
She is also an ongoing contributor to Conde Nast Traveler magazine; her most recent work there concerned the islands of Casco Bay, Maine, in the July 2005 issue; a story about the Turks and Caicos islands is slated for February 2006. Jenny has also contributed articles to GQ, People, Allure, and Glamour. Her column, "There From Here," appears on Sundays in the papers of the Central Maine newspaper chain.
Boylan's first book, a collection of stories entitled Remind Me To Murder You Later, was published by Johns Hopkins University Press in 1988. Her stories presented characters - sometimes fictional, sometimes interpretations of living people - faced with atypical dilemmas either as a result of the spinning forces of life or else by their own hands.
Her style would first achieve national attention in 1991, when her first novel, The Planets, was published by Poseidon Press. (Simon and Schuster). Loosely based upon the classical piece of music by Gustav Holst, The Planets followed the lives of several fictional characters in the real town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, which has been afflicted by an underground coal fire for several decades and houses few remaining residents. When one woman commits suicide while skydiving, she sets into effect a chain reaction of events involving other residents of the burning town.
Picking up six years after The Planets concluded, The Constellations follows the lives of several of the characters from The Planets, along with a generous helping of new, strange people. The Constellations, published in 1994 by Random House, is just as energetic as its precursor, as characters flee from angry cows, discover a latex brain, and begin a life of dognapping.
Her 1997 novel, Getting In, published by Warner Books, focused on four high school students who go on quests to get into college. The novel was optioned for film by Renny Harlin and Geena Davis, and Jenny was tapped to write the initial screenplay.
Boylan's books have been widely praised by many respected critics, writers and publications, including Barth, Albee, Richard Russo, The New Yorker, Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday and Entertainment Weekly. Her stories have appeared in such literary magazines as Confrontation, Florida Review, Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review, Writer's Digest and Southwest Review.
Born in 1958 in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, Boylan grew up in Newtown Square and Devon, Pennsylvania.
She graduated from Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) in 1980. From there she moved to New York, where she was the managing editor of American Bystander magazine, the short-lived "American Punch" founded by the first cast of "Saturday Night Live" and an ad-hoc group of New Yorker cartoonists and SCTV actors and writers. Upon the demise of American Bystander in 1982, Boylan became an editorial assistant at Viking/Penguin, working for the managing editor of the Viking Press. Boylan followed with a stint as the production editor of the fiction line at E.P. Dutton until 1985.
In late 1986, Boylan began a master's program at the Writing Seminars of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, where she worked with John Barth, Edward Albee, Doris Grumback and John Irwin. She taught at Johns Hopkins for several years after getting her degree, and then joined the faculty at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where she has been ever since.
Since 1988, Jenny Boylan has beena professor of creative writng and American literature at Colby College, in Waterville, Maine. Boylan was a visiting professor at University College Cork, Ireland, in 1998-99. She was promoted to the rank of full Professor in May of 2001, and was chosen by students as the Charles Walker Bassett "Professor of the Year" in 2000. At present she is Director of Creative Writing at Colby.
Jenny Boylan may be contacted via her agent, Kristine Dahl at International Creative Management, Inc., in New York, at Kdahl@icmtalent.com. Or you may write Jenny directly at JennyBoylan@aol.com