REVIEW: "Nevada," by Imogen Binnie

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REVIEW: "Nevada," by Imogen Binnie

I’ve read a lot of so awkward it’s painful/funny/honest/sad odes to bad queer sex in my day. Bad technique. Awkward negotiations. Breakup sex. "We-are-never-ever-ever-getting-back-together" sex. But the first scene in Nevada, Imogen Binnie’s new book published by Topside Press, takes the cake: SM gone stale, strategic avoidance of dirty talk, and, of course, faking it as a dissociative strategy.

Nevada follows Maria Griffiths, a 30-something bookstore clerk, trans dyke and former punk, as she tries to figure out what to do after her relationship of four years comes to an end in a disaster of misrepresented nonomonogamy. We get to know Maria through her incessant (and sometimes annoying) inner monologues: dyke drama, trans angst, politics, and all. Be warned: this is one of those super-stylized and informal narrative styles that will either draw you in immediately or make you want to throw it across the room. I started out wanting to throw it across the room; a few chapters in, I was finally hooked.

The story unfolds in two parts. The first part, in classic dyke-drama novel glory, follows Maria around New York City as she deals with her boring job, ending relationship, and relentless self-sabotage. After the breakup she makes the only respectable choice a good former punk could make: she half-steals a car and heads out on the road. The second part meets up with her in rural Nevada as she crosses paths with a young kid named James working at Wal-Mart who may or may not be a proto-trans woman himself. Maria guesses he is—he, in turn, clocks her as trans—and they are off and running on what may be the world's most failed attempt at semi-consensual gender mentoring. Maria tries her best to be an authority on the matter, James freaks out, they smoke pot and try again. She pokes holes in his theories about how he isn’t trans and overlectures him about his life. They drive to Reno and get in a fight. And, maddeningly, we never quite learn how the story ends for either of them.

I love a good dyke drama novel. I love nothing more than a lovable mess wandering around a big city trying to figure out her own feelings. In this respect Maria delivers, walking around in the shoes of some of Michelle Tea or Sarah Schulman’s classic dyke heroines. Nevada is a good story, and



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