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Jennifer Finney Boylan
(aka James Finney Boylan)
(Writer)

JB at jenniferboylan dot nets
JennyBoylan at  aol dot com
(Please fix this email address before you use it.
http://jenniferboylan.net
BLOG

Profile created March 10, 2004.
Writing as Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • I'm Looking Through You: Gowing Up Haunted -- A Memoir (2008)
    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 Genders (2003) -- 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.

Writing as James Finney Boylan
  • 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 asunder.

    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 (1988)
    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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