A few thoughts about reviewing The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen for The Quarterly Conversation

Over the past six months or so I have pursued few opportunities to write longer critical reviews for publication. In fact, I have been more interested in encouraging others to write reviews for me to publish at 3:AM Magazine. I’ve gotten out of the habit of looking to upcoming releases with an eye to what I might want to write about, especially sight unseen. Rather, I am more likely to find myself reading a book I already own and realize that I want to write about it at a greater depth than my typical blog post. But every now and then a book grabs my attention and I set out to secure an advance reader’s copy and review placement on instinct alone.

Such was the case with The Endless Summer by Danish writer and transgender performance artist, Madame Neilsen, recently released by Open Letter Books in a translation by Gaye Kynoch. I knew nothing about this book when I first saw it in an email newsletter but I confess that I was immediately intrigued by the unusual sounding author.  And although I tend to tread very carefully around transgender themed writing or writers of any sort, I knew I wanted to read this book. And write about it. Endless complications in my efforts to obtain a review copy notwithstanding (it did arrive about two weeks after I submitted my finished review), I was thoroughly captivated by this lovely novel.

The story of a boy “who is perhaps a girl, but does not know it yet,” The Endless Summer is, in simple terms, an evocative requiem to that moment in life when all is possible and the harsh face of reality has not yet been confronted. I attempted to capture some of its strange and wonderful magic in my review which has just been published in the Spring 2018 edition of The Quarterly Conversation. Have a look.

Author: roughghosts

Literary blog of Joseph Schreiber. Writer. Reader. Editor. Photographer.

21 thoughts on “A few thoughts about reviewing The Endless Summer by Madame Nielsen for The Quarterly Conversation”

    1. I’m not sure, there is really no explanation of the narrator’s shifting identity, but the author herself is very interesting. And I think there could be much to discuss, about exploring body and sexuality including a gay/AIDS theme.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s also the perfect length (120 pp apparently) for this course. I’m definitely going to read it. We have quite a few trans students now and I would love to teach a book that speaks to that experience.

        Liked by 1 person

      1. If that is so, then that is a good read for every one. I hope that book can give our society wider perspectives on transgender.
        Now, I have come to realize that I believe what our writers should write on transgenderism is the deeper sides people don’t see on the surface. That’s something I have been looking for in a transgender-themed book.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. There seem to be a lot more books now, especially for young adults. But as a transgender person myself, I find that I don’t relate to most of the stories I hear. That’s why I like these more elusive kinds of tales, the experience is hard to articulate without falling into these accounts that become clichés.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Luckily I’m not in the US, but in my generation I encounter a significant amount of transphobia within the queer community. It has kept me isolated. My kids who are in their 20s grew up in a very different reality (and with me as a parent). Young people now have so many more resources, not that it’s easy, but it is different.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Gee, little did I know that there is still such prevailing atmosphere in the U.S and in your community. What gives? Is it really a matter of incorrigible culture? If so, I hope literature can put an end to it.


      1. Is that when you wrote it, good heavens! With the troubles I’m having with internet, I’m yearning for the olden days of pen and paper!
        (Now, to press send, and see if this comment lands where it should and doesn’t disappear into cyberspace).

        Liked by 1 person

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