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Self-Made Man

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Norah Vincent really did date women as a guy named Ned, retreat to a monastery, infiltrate a men's therapy group, get a job in a testosterone-fuelled office and join a bowling league where, even as the worst player on her team, the other fellows still slapped her on the back, offered tips, and promised she'd get a handle on it one of these days. Her score never did improve. The just thought Ned was hopeless at bowling. They never thought she was a girl. In Self Made Man, an intrepid female journalist goes where no woman has ever dared. The result is an astonishingly sympathetic picture of the male world and how men behave when women aren't around. The ultimate impostor's story, Self Made Man is an enlightening and humane read, as courageous as it is outrageous.
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About the Author

Norah Vincent is a freelance journalist working in New York City. Self Made Man is her first book.


Vincent, formerly a Los Angeles Times syndicated columnist, has written a spellbinding, eyeopening personal narrative of 18 months spent "passing" as a man. She assumed the identity of "Ned," hiding her body within male clothing. Ned joined a men's bowling league, accompanied male acquaintances to strip joints, dated women, worked in a high-pressure male-dominated sales job, and participated in a ritual-laden men's sensitivity group. Late in the experiment, Ned moved to a monastery to experience a male environment without women. With intelligence and sensitivity, Vincent relates her experiences and surprising discoveries about the secrets and rites of male society and the daily fears and desires of individual men. She analyzes the dating scene from the male perspective, emphasizing the need for males to be able to deal with rejection 90 percent of the time and describing the toll this takes on the male ego. She highlights over and over again the communication disconnect between men and women and how their preconceived notions affect how they act toward one another. One of the big surprises of Vincent's account is that, after she revealed her identity to the men she had fraternized with and the women she had "dated," the people readily accepted her. An often humorous, incisive, and fascinating account that validates the conclusions of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus; for most public and academic libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/15/05.]-Jack Forman, San Diego Mesa Coll. Lib. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

"Mass-market paperback outing for the most talked about book of 2006: 'an addictive, enthralling read' (Viv Groskop, Observer) * 'Intelligent, articulate and perceptive... one of the most sympathetic renderings of masculinity you're likely to read.' Lionel Shriver, The Guardian * 'Funny, compelling and human' The Times * 'This captivating account will forever change the way you see men - and perhaps yourself' Marie Claire * 'Thoughtful, entertaining...fascinating' New York Times Book Review 'Beautifully written... a brave and fascinating book.' Christopher Hart, Sunday Times"

The disguise that former Los Angeles Times op-ed columnist Vincent employed to trick dozens of people into believing her a man was carefully thought out: a new, shorter haircut; a pair of rectangular eyeglasses; a fake five o'clock shadow; a prosthetic penis; some preppy clothes. It was more than she needed. "[A]s I became more confident in my disguise... the props I had used... became less and less important, until sometimes I didn't need them at all," Vincent writes. Gender marking, she found, is more about attitude than appearance. Vincent's account of the year and a half she spent posing as a man is peppered with such predictable observations. To readers of gender studies literature, none of them will be especially illuminating, but Vincent's descriptions of how she learned, and tested, such chestnuts firsthand make them awfully fun to read. As "Ned," Vincent joined an all-male bowling league, dated women, worked for a door-to-door sales force, spent three weeks in a monastery, hung out in strip clubs and, most dangerous of all, went on a Robert Bly-style men's retreat. She creates rich portraits of the men she met in these places and the ways they behaved-as a lesbian, she's particularly good at separating the issues of sexuality from those of gender. But the most fascinating part of the story lies within Vincent herself-and the way that censoring her emotions to pass as a man provoked a psychological breakdown. For fans of Nickel and Dimed-style immersion reporting, this book is a sure bet. (Jan. 23) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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