Jennifer Finney Boylan
(aka James Finney Boylan)
I'm Looking Through You: Gowing Up Haunted -- A Memoir
For Jennifer Boylan, creaking stairs, fleeting
images in the mirror, and the remote whisper of human voices were
everyday events in the Pennsylvania house in which she grew up in the
1970s. But these weren’t the only specters beneath the roof of the
mansion known as the “Coffin House.” Jenny herself—born James—lived in a
haunted body, and both her mysterious, diffident father and her wild,
unpredictable sister would soon become ghosts to Jenny as well.
I’m Looking Through You is an engagingly candid investigation of
what it means to be “haunted.” Looking back on the spirits who invaded
her family home, Boylan launches a full investigation with the help of a
group of earnest, if questionable, ghostbusters. Boylan also examines
the ways we find connections between the people we once were and the
people we become. With wit and eloquence, Boylan shows us how love,
forgiveness, and humor help us find peace—with our ghosts, with our
loved ones, and with the uncanny boundaries, real and imagined, between
men and women.
She's Not There: A Life in Two
-- Winner, 2003
Lambda Literary Award for
Lambda Literary Awards for Transgender/Bisexual
The provocative bestseller She's Not There is the
winning, utterly surprising story of a person changing genders. By turns
hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the territory
that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices
in the redeeming power of family. Told in Boylan's fresh voice, She's Not
There is about a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret.
Through her clear eyes, She's Not There provides a new window on the
confounding process of accepting our true selves.
Getting In: A Novel (1998) --
Winner 1999 Alex Award
Desperately trying to hide low SAT scores,
underdeveloped vocabularies and a shocking dearth of extracurricular
activities, this is a hilarious and wise novel about four high school
seniors nervously dealing with a procession of admission officers who burst
out crying, break into uncontrollable hiccups, and even go into labor during
their all-important interviews. Soon, the travelers learn that the process
of deciding where they want to go will force them to find out who they
really are; which really won't matter much as long as they get into Harvard!
The Planets (1991)
In the town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, a mine fire
has been burning since 1962. The town has gradually been torn down, building
by building, as poison gases and steam from the fire erupt at the surface.
Against this backdrop, Jennifer Finney Boylan sets her wildly inventive and
hilarious novel. Inspired in part by Holst's symphony of the same name, The
Planets examines the complications of desire in the lives of nine of the few
remaining Centralians with a wry, deadpan logic.
When lovesick Edith Schmertz takes an ill-fated leap out of an airplane on
Easter Sunday, she sets in motion an inexorable chain of events, sending
many human orbits spinning wildly out of control. A middle-aged bank
president seeks temporary escape from a stifling marriage with a
professional mime, part-time nudist, and office temp who strips away all
externals in her search for pure truth. A little girl's birthday explodes
into chaos when a pet rabbit crashes through her bedroom window; an entire
family is kidnapped by a burro-riding hardware-store robber; and a
modern-day Pluto finds his Persephone.
All of these characters are obsessed with human freedom - sexual, personal,
psychological - and this rollicking journey through the solar system becomes
an inward voyage to the center of the human heart.
The Constellations (1994)
An adolescent girl with a very large imagination, a
chance encounter with a latex brain, a mother on the lam from her own
family, and a lustful sculptress - these are some of the stars in Jennifer
Finney Boylan's hilarious new novel, The Constellations, the much-awaited
successor to her international triumph, The Planets. Also set in the
smoldering coal town of Centralia, Pennsylvania, this outlandish but
poignant tale investigates the complications of romance, desire, and sex in
the world of fifteen-year-old Phoebe Harrison and her extended family.
When Phoebe runs away from home to find her mother, she inadvertently sends
the love lives of the adults around her spinning out of control. Her uncle
Pat, trysting in a forest with the artist Isabelle Smuggs, finds himself
pursued, naked, by angry cows. Isabelle, who makes sculptures of celebrities
and then guillotines them, finds the answers to some unpleasant questions in
the basement of Wendy Walisko, who raises Sea-Monkeys. Phoebe's sister,
Demmie, must grapple with the terrors of dognapping. Her father, Wedley,
sees his marriage to Vicki Ambrasino deteriorate after his spouse sleeps
with a man obsessed with his cement mixer. And Phoebe's mother, Emily,
returns home at last to confront the family her disappearance has split
Boylan's wild journey through the stars ultimately takes us full circle to
the center, literally, of the human heart. Through Phoebe's imagination and
faith, the members of the Harrison family manage to find themselves
reunited, sort of, despite their suspicion that any act of love, though
triumphant overall, will still result in bedlam.
Remind Me to Murder You Later: Short Stories
Three days before her Ash Wednesday wedding, an
unhappy bride dyes her wedding gown black and drinks "an unexpected
quantity" of light green ink. Although it fails to poison her, the ink
stains her veins and arteries until she resembles "a stalk of celery left
too long in a glass of colored water." Concerned, her maid of honor - who is
having an affair with the groom - brings her a gift-wrapped package of heavy
pancake make-up. But the wedding, of course, is off.
In the world of Jennifer Boylan, the lives of ordinary people may go
suddenly, disturbingly awry, while those of the not-so-ordinary come
completely unhinged. Astronaut Elvis Presley rides into orbit aboard a
rhinestone-studded space capsule. Polar explorer Jimmy Durante, lost in
Antarctica, recites "Da Rime of da An-chink Mariner." Lyndon Johnson assumes
the presidency on the death of the assassinated John Lennon. Aging stooge
Moe Howard (whose trademark line gives Boylan her title) is transformed into
a bearded, tablet-bearing Moses. ("Oh, a wise guy.")
In twenty stories that mix comedy and horror, face and fantasy, Jennifer
Boylan pursues the absurd, the grotesque, and the surreal with a relentless,
deadpan logic. The merely eccentric, however, he invests with an offbeat
charm that masks a barely controlled manic energy. "That's what it's like to
be a human cannonball, Johnson," a former circus star tells his piano tuner.
"Jesus, if we had a cannon around here, I'd show you."
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