Author Nick Krieger. Photo Credit: Melinda Begatelos
You’ve always hated your nose.
It sticks out too much. Or, it’s too small. Or… wait, your ears make you look like you’re part elephant. Or, your lips are too pouty, your thighs are too big, your arms are too fat, you hate your butt.
And, you can change all of the above and then some.
But, would you have the courage to alter the very things that define you to the rest of society? In the new book “Nina Here nor There” by Nick Krieger, you’ll see why one young man did.
When writer-blogger Nina Krieger landed in San Francisco’s Castro district, she felt welcomed.
Her lesbian friends, the “A-gays,” folded her into their circle with parties. Old pals were glad to see Krieger, and she was glad to find an apartment with roommates she could tolerate. She even found a job that allowed her to continue writing.
But, Kreiger wasn’t happy. For years, she’d struggled with gender identity: she was not a lesbian, not exactly a woman but, yet — she was. Being in The Castro gave her hope, though, and unwittingly, she had surrounded herself with people who could give her guidance.
Greg, with his newly-flat chest and eagerness for life, was willing to share his experiences with surgery and testosterone shots. Jess, one of Kreiger’s roommates, was transitioning and taught Kreiger about “packing” and binding. Zippy, a longtime close friend, gave optimistic support.
“Before moving to the Castro, I’d thought becoming a man was as realistic as growing wings,” said Kreiger.
But, living “with her community” gave Kreiger the courage to try. Deciding that breasts were the worst part of who she was, Kreiger bought minimizers and purchased the other body parts that she lacked. Little by little, she allowed her family careful peeks into the person she knew herself to be. She “convinced” herself that she belonged, yet she was uneasy. What exists between girl and boy?
“… I didn’t fully relate to either anymore,” Kreiger said.
Despite a fear of needles, unfazed by a list of realities and heartbroken by a paternal lack of understanding, Kreiger knew she had to find out…
“Nina Here nor There” is a bit of a conundrum.
On one side, author Nick Kreiger takes his readers by the hand, allowing us to see what he sees. As Kreiger explores the gender spectrum, we do, too. At the same time he’s seeing the blurred lines of woman and not-woman, we see it as well. The journey is a good one, shared.
By the time I got to the latter third of the book, though, I was well good and ready for Nina to make up her mind. By then — just before the culmination of the story — “Nina Here nor There” becomes a struggle, both in content and story. And, it’s with great relief that you’ll find what happens.
Overall, this is a book worth a look, especially if you’re examining the fluidity of gender yourself. For you, “Nina Here nor There” is a nice change of pace. : :
“Nina Here nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender” by Nick Krieger
c. 2011, Beacon Press
$15.00 / $17.00 Canada . 202 pages
By the time I got to the latter third of the book, though, I was well good and ready for Nina to make up her mind.
Without commenting on the literary quality of the book (haven’t read it), isn’t this the Either/Or that *you* say Krieger no longer fits into? Have you not lost the plot (as it were)?
I read that more as a knock on the writing. Either it got stale or the situations and hand-wringing became repetitive. I lean towards the latter because the situations of transition and testing the waters can be repetitive to an observer.
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