A journalist's provocative, spellbinding account of her eighteen months spent
undercover will transform the way we think about what it means to be a man
Following in the tradition of John Howard Griffin (Black Like Me) and
Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed), Norah Vincent absorbed a cultural
experience and reported back on what she observed incognito. For more than a
year and a half she ventured into the world as Ned, with an ever-present five o'clock
shadow, a crew cut, wire-rim glasses, and her own size 11 1/2 shoesa perfect
disguise that enabled her to observe the world of men as an insider. The result
is a sympathetic, shrewd, and thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism
that's destined to challenge preconceptions and attract enormous attention.
With her buddies on the bowling league she enjoyed the rough and rewarding
embrace of male camaraderie undetectable to an outsider. A stint in a
high-octane sales job taught her the gut-wrenching pressures endured by men who
would do anything to succeed. She frequented sex clubs, dated women hungry for
love but bitter about men, and infiltrated all-male communities as hermetically
sealed as a men's therapy group, and even a monastery. Narrated in her utterly
captivating prose style and with exquisite insight, humor, empathy, nuance, and
at great personal cost, Norah uses her intimate firsthand experience to explore
the many remarkable mysteries of gender identity as well as who men are apart
from and in relation to women. Far from becoming bitter or outraged, Vincent
ended her journey astoundedand exhaustedby the rigid codes and rituals of
masculinity. Having gone where no woman (who wasn't an aspiring or actual
transsexual) has gone for any significant length of time, let alone eighteen
months, Norah Vincent's surprising account is an enthralling reading experience
and a revelatory piece of anecdotally based gender analysis that is sure to
spark fierce and fascinating conversation.
The Washington Post - Lily Burana
Eye-opening . . . Self-Made Man will make many women think twice about coveting male ‘privilege’ and make any man feel grateful that his gender is better understood.
The New York Times Book Review
...[A] thoughtful, diligent, entertaining piece of first-person
journalism.... [I]n its best moments, Self-Made Man transcends its premise
altogether, offering not an undercover woman's take on male experience, but
simply a fly-on-the-wall look at various unglamorous male milieus that are
well off the radar screen of most journalists and book authors. Rich and
Library Journal - Jack Forman
An often humorous, incisive, and fascinating
account that validates the conclusions of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from
.... 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.
Booklist - Vanessa Bush
Starred Review. Writing from the perspective of a gay woman who had a view of the
male world that women don't get to see, Vincent finds unexpected complexities
in the men she meets and in herself as well.
The Times (London)
[Vincent] can be as perspicuous and exact as Joan Didion or Gloria Steinem at nailing a hitherto disregarded truth about the sexes in a single elegant and witty phrase. . . . This is a brave and often fascinating book, with Vincent . . . offering us perspectives that are entirely fresh and new.
Nuala O'Faolain, author of Are You Somebody?
This gripping book got me through a delayed transatlantic flight
beside a shrieking baby. Could I say more? It was high-risk stuff, Norah
Vincent's undercover research into what men are like when they're in the
places where men are men. The reader's heart beats fast at the chances she
took. In adventure writing like this it is the quality of the adventurer that
matters. Norah Vincent's perceptiveness, and above all her large sympathies,
make her the perfect guide.
Bruce Bawer, author of A Place At the Table
An extraordinary human document, rich in empathy and insight. Readers
expecting a light read about a diverting stunt will find themselves taking a
riveting and richly illuminating journey into some of their own deepest
truths. You start out peeping into a window and end up staring into a
Christina Hoff Sommers
A fascinating, original and often hilarious long day's journey into
the world of men. Posing as a man and infiltrating the female-free places
males congregate, Norah Vincent finds the male precincts to be a lot
better--and a lot worse--than most women ever imagine.
Nora Vincent says..... "Being able to incorporate the lessons of
manhood into womanhood is, I suppose, one of the best examples of how my concept
of womanhood changed because of Ned. In my view, this is the greatest liberation
of feminism, a liberation that men haven't yet experienced in their own roles.
They haven't really been allowed to express traditionally feminine qualities,
and they are limited as a result. Having lived as both a man and a woman, it
seems to me now that the definition of womanhood, at least as I live it and as I
believe our culture defines it, is so much larger, can happily encompass so much
more, than the definition of manhood. I can borrow from the boyswardrobe, mien,
temperamentand still be all woman. The reverse is not really true, or at least
it wasn't for Ned. He had to shed all my female qualities and, as a result,
became much smaller. I like to say that in that respect Ned can fit in Norah's...
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