Liam, who lives in Zurich with his wife, says: "At three years old I began catching odd glances because I was born in a girl's body yet began to introduce myself to people as a boy." Paralian tells the remarkable story of an honest, and at times, challenging life, and offers insight and wisdom from a fluid position - from experience. Liam reveals how exploring the world helped him find a home inside his own body and spirit. Through this ultimately heartwarming and inspiring story, readers learn how Liam never gave up, faced his fears, and always managed to find positivity in each trauma.
Written with an engaging sense of humour, this memoir of transcendence and finding oneself will appeal to those who enjoy true stories of courage, resilience, and dedication in the face of adversity. Paralian celebrates life with infectious strength and positivity. Follow Liam's journey from a small river in Germany to the biggest performance pool in the world, from Switzerland to the US, the Maldives to Macau.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite Paralian by Liam Klenk is a very long story. Too long? Only if you're an impatient reader. Liam Klenk has so much to share in this fascinating memoir that, despite its length, those readers with a thirst for knowledge and inquisitive, intelligent minds much like the author's will be utterly riveted. Even when you think you just can't read another page, you find yourself turning it to see what more can you learn from Paralian, a book with an unusual name and an intriguing subtitle: "Not just transgender." You see, Paralian is not just about a female who transitions to male in her young adult years. While that's a key part to understanding the protagonist's restless disposition and endless search for self, that search takes Liam and readers into the heart and soul of countries in a way they are never depicted in travel brochures. Be prepared for a surprise, for instance, at what you might witness in a public park in Zurich in comparison to a park in North America. The Paralian, born Stephanie and adopted by a neurotic mother and gay father, eventually locates her birth mother and a sister she didn't know she had, only to be rejected by both later. As a new male, he falls in love more than once, marries twice for convenience, once his father's and once his own. Gifted with a brilliant mind and a need to prove his worthiness mostly to himself, Liam embraces one challenge after another: he becomes a photographer, an artist, a theater and events co-ordinator, and much later, despite an innate fear of, but love for water, especially the ocean, he masters the sport of scuba diving. His travels take us around Germany, Switzerland, Malta, Macau, Hong Kong and the US. His observations and reflections on each country and culture, many very detailed, along with his struggles to understand himself as a transgendered person trying to fit into society, are what make Paralian such a long, often intensive read. This is not a memoir for the squeamish. Details are raw, vivid, honest. Nor, as mentioned above, is it a read for the impatient or someone looking for quick entertainment. Paralian is for those who enjoy learning something new when they read and who like finding themselves still thinking about what they have read long after they finish the book. If that sounds like you, read Paralian by Liam Klenk.
The term “Paralian” comes from ancient Greek origins, and it has taken on the meaning of “people who live by the sea”. There could be no more apt title for Liam Klenk’s autobiography. In Paralian: Not Just Transgender, He recounts the sweeping and nomadic movements of his life via the lens of the rivers, lakes, and oceans by which he periodically makes a home. Water is the element of change and transition. It is also the element at the heart of so many human-nature entanglements; the resource that has always defined and guided the movements of our species. Fittingly for a tale of bodies, travels, transitions, and wandering, Klenk uses bodies of water to parse the sections of his life like chapters in a narrative. The voice and experience of Liam Klenk is tender, vulnerable, and honest. It comes to the reader unassumingly and asks only for a patient ear. As the title would suggest, Paralian: Not Just Transgender tells a tale far wider in scope than Liam’s courageous journey through gender confirmation. If anything, the story is about the contexts that occur before, during, and afterwards. It tells the story of a human being finding his place in this world. It opens near the River Enz in Germany, with a young girl named Stefanie and illustrates how a complex and tumultuous family origin, vexes and feeds her inherent confusion over identity. At the end, the reader closes on a confident, middle-aged man named Liam who views the world through hopeful, optimistic eyes from an airplane above Hong Kong. In the intervening pages a transition obviously happens but—to the author’s point—so does a full life. As Stefanie becomes Liam, the reader is taken abroad from Germany to Seattle, from Zurich to Italy to Macao, and all points in between. What makes Klenk’s tale so necessary is that we get a story about a transgendered individual that articulates that while a singular aspect of his life was important, it by no means is the sole determinant of identity. Regarding execution and readability, there are some pieces that could give readers trouble. As with many ESL authors, minor line-level similes and metaphors go overboard at times and actually distract the reader from the emotional intensity of scene and moment. The larger issue however is that Paralian: Not Just Transgender isn’t just a fascinating book, as it is several fascinating books mashed together. Because Life has no definitive plot, the best works of biography and creative nonfiction tend to follow an A-side/B-side construction in which real world chronologies and events are echoed and digested alongside another more metaphorical through line. Klenk’s book is framed around the metaphor of nomadic travels and bodies of water, but the device is often glanced over or abandoned entirely for lengthy sections. This leaves the prose, like it’s subject, to wander widely. Luckily for Klenk, his book is entertaining enough that its propensity to lose direction is easily forgiven.