July 8, 2011
In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.
Nick Krieger's Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender is a passionate and honest memoir. Krieger recounts his personal search for identity and gender with humor and emotional honesty, making this one of the year's most moving books.
Publishers Weekly wrote of the book:
"A beautifully rendered and personal account that feels like a fresh addition to trans literature."
I am very private about my music tastes. I hide my iPod in group settings, sit in the back seat on road trips to avoid DJ duties, and blush when asked about my favorite bands. I find this intriguing because I'm a memoirist. I like to share things about myself, and I especially like to write about subjects other people consider private, like sex, my body, and my family. I go into all of that in my memoir Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender, an exploration of the land between man and woman, a coming-of-age story, a family dramedy, and a tale of first love. To give some structure to my playlist, I used the book's narrative as my guide.
"Vanilla" – Pansy Division
In the opening chapter, I show up at party called Ta-Ta Tatas, a transgender fundraiser thrown by some in-your-face queers. Leaving behind my comfortable lesbian social circle for a scene full of leather, tattoos, and latex, I am intimidated by the atmosphere of uninhibited freedom. Back then I hadn't heard of the queercore band, Pansy Division, who had been singing about ropes and whips for years. My vanilla self was probably humming the Indigo Girls in the corner of the party. Lucky for me, this was only the beginning of my journey.
“Otto Titsling" – Bette Midler
This is without a doubt the best bra song of all time, a narrative journey of industrial invention perfect for the chapter devoted to adventures in chest binding. While Otto Titsling wanted to “lift and mold the female breast," the female characters here, including me, want to flatten, streamline, and masculinize their chests. I try the notoriously tight Frog Bras (from Title Nine) and then the girdle-like tank tops from Underworks, futzing and tinkering for that perfect fit.
“A Boy Like Me" – Patrick Wolf
A friend sent me some gender songs when I was going through my early identity explorations, which is how I discovered Patrick Wolf. This song is for the trans guys who taught me that there are an infinite number of ways to be a boy, and we each have to find our own unique path.
“Good Vibrations" – Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch
Here I take literal to a level that should never be reached. Not only is Good Vibrations the sex toy store where I purchase my first “packer," but it is Marky Mark whom I seek to emulate while checking out my reflection in the mirror. As an adolescent, I was obsessed with his abs in those Calvin Klein underwear ads. His torso defined physical masculinity for me, then and now. I just can't seem to figure out if I want to do him or be him.
“The Origin of Love" – Rufus Wainwright
This is my cross-genre homage to gender-bending art. I chose my favorite song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch, the classic musical from this millennium, rather than a song from the cult classic Rocky Horror Picture Show.
“Parentheses" – The Blow
I have parentheses tattooed on my calves because this is my favorite punctuation mark. It is also a song introduced to me by Ramona, my girlfriend in the book. The indie, electro-pop sound reminds me of her, as does this young, queer performer. Basically Ramona, like this song, is everything that is cooler than me. And of course, there's the refrain: “When you're holding me, we make a pair of parentheses." For two writers and literary lovers, this is a wonderful image for our relationship.
“Ganesh is Fresh" – MC Yogi
As I set off on my yoga path, it only seems appropriate that I invoke Ganesh, the elephant god and clearer of obstacles. Associated with the earth element, the root chakra, Ganesh imbues the final part of my journey with a grounded energy. If you haven't heard this yoga-inspired hip-hop music, it's definitely worth checking out.
“The Boxer" – Simon and Garfunkel
I remember vinyl only from my dad's small record collection. Classic rock defined his music taste, and as a result, defined mine through my teenage years. When I think of my love for my dad, of the pain born from this love, and the ways we are alike and unlike, I think back to his record collection. This song is my favorite for its narrative quality, melancholy tune, and sense of perseverance it instills in me.
“This Boy" – I'm From Barcelona
This song is my personal anthem. There are only a few lines to this upbeat and catchy tune, and they express all that I feel and want to sing in the shower: “There's always going to be this little boy inside of me. And there's always going to be this little girl inside of me."
Nick Krieger and Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender links:
also at Largehearted Boy:
other Book Notes playlists (authors create music playlists for their book)
52 Books, 52 Weeks (weekly book reviews)
Antiheroines (interviews with up and coming female comics artists)
Atomic Books Comics Preview (weekly comics highlights)
Daily Downloads (free and legal daily mp3 downloads)
guest book reviews
Largehearted Word (weekly new book highlights)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
Shorties (daily music, literature, and pop culture links)
Soundtracked (composers and directors discuss their film's soundtracks)
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from the week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists