Something That May Shock and Discredit You

Something That May Shock and Discredit You

by Daniel M. Lavery


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Named one of the most anticipated books of the year by Entertainment Weekly, O, The Oprah Magazine, BuzzFeed, Electric Literature, Yahoo Lifestyle, and Bitch Media

“A delightful hybrid of a book... You’ll laugh, you'll cry, often both at once. Everyone should read this extraordinary book.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

From the New York Times bestselling author of Texts From Jane Eyre and Merry Spinster, writer of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column, and cofounder of The Toast comes a hilarious and stirring collection of essays and cultural observations spanning pop culture—from the endearingly popular to the staggeringly obscure.

Daniel Mallory Ortberg is known for blending genres, forms, and sources to develop fascinating new hybrids—from lyric rants to horror recipes to pornographic scripture. In his most personal work to date, he turns his attention to the essay, offering vigorous and laugh-out-loud funny accounts of both popular and highbrow culture while mixing in meditations on gender transition, family dynamics, and the many meanings of faith.

From a thoughtful analysis of the beauty of William Shatner to a sinister reimagining of HGTV’s House Hunters, and featuring figures as varied as Anne of Green Gables, Columbo, Nora Ephron, Apollo, and the cast of Mean Girls, Something That May Shock and Discredit You is a hilarious and emotionally exhilarating compendium that combines personal history with cultural history to make you see yourself and those around you entirely anew. It further establishes Ortberg as one of the most innovative and engaging voices of his generation—and it may just change the way you think about Lord Byron forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781982105211
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 267,279
Product dimensions: 8.50(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Daniel M. Lavery is the “Dear Prudence” advice columnist at Slate, the cofounder of The Toast, and the New York Times bestselling author of Texts From Jane Eyre and The Merry Spinster.

Read an Excerpt

Interlude I: Chapter Titles from the On the Nose, Po-Faced Transmasculine Memoir I Am Trying Not to Write INTERLUDE I Chapter Titles from the On the Nose, Po-Faced Transmasculine Memoir I Am Trying Not to Write
The first step in writing a book is not writing the wrong book. The fight against writing Son of a Preacher Man: Becoming Daniel Mallory Ortberg, My Journey Trekking Through the Transformative Expedition of Emergence, Voyaging Shiftward Into Form—An Odyssey in Two Sexes: Pilgrimage to Ladhood must be renewed every day. I am tempted always to make some force or organization outside of myself responsible for my own discomfort, to retroactively apply consistency to my sense of self as a child, to wax poetic about something in order to cover up uncertainty, to overshare in great detail out of fear that the details will be dragged out of me if I don’t volunteer them first, and to lapse into cliché in order to get what I want as quickly as possible.

  1. Chapter One: An Outdoor Picnic Signifying the Successful Reintegration into the Family Unit, and a Flashback

A description of the author, naked, at five, then again at twelve, then again at twenty, then again at thirty-two.
  1. Chapter Two: A Mostly Forced Poetic Description of My Hormone Delivery System

This is my voice four seconds on T. This is my voice after saying, “This is my voice four seconds on T,” so probably another seven seconds on T. This is the molecular structure of testosterone. This is a rhapsodic list of side effects.
  1. Chapter Three: My Male Privilege? My Male Privilege Seems So Tenuous

But I’m also scared about my male privilege!
  1. Chapter Four: *Extreme Paula Cole Voice* Where Have All the Tomboys Gone?

I’m sorry I lured the tomboys away to Boy Island. I am heartily sorry for my fault, my fault, my grievous fault, and I promise to make a good-faith error at restitution, returning at least five tomboys or their cash equivalent.
  1. Chapter Five: An Extensive Water-Based Metaphor

Trans people: Always mesmerized, held, fascinated, and ultimately defeated by reflective surfaces. What’s that, you say? A mirror of some kind? Hold it up to me so I might gaze at it with longing and dissatisfaction.
  1. Chapter Six: Have You Heard of ... ? Mermaids/Centaurs/Sirens/Sphinxes/Butterflies/Snakes/Werewolves/Any Other Cryptid? Well, You’re Going to Hear About Them Now.

They’re like me!!
  1. Chapter Seven: Maiden, Mother, Crone, Mothman, Hans Moleman

Room to work in a Golden Bough reference, maybe? Joseph Campbell, at the very least.
  1. Chapter Eight: Footnotes, for Legitimacy

In which the author clearly feels obligated to badly summarize theory in order to offer a publicly defensible sense of self.
  1. Chapter Nine: An Exhaustive Recounting of Every Crush I Have Ever Had, Tagged and Exhibited, Followed by Six Pages of Layman’s Chemistry

In which the author has grown a thin, dreadful mustache, which the reader can intuitively sense through the page.
  1. Chapter Ten: What If Masculinity, but in a Soft, Sort-of-Drapey Jacket

That’d be nice, right? Maybe in velvet; I don’t know. It’s soft now! We can all enjoy it this way.
  1. Chapter Eleven: In Which I Interview Every Man Who Refused to Walk Through a Door I Held Open for Them Before Transition and Inform Them that They Are Retroactively Gay Now

If I’m honest—which I’m not—I did it for male attention. (Both the opening of doors and transition.)
  1. Chapter Twelve: “Liminal”

In which the author refers to himself, alternately, as a “gender rebel,” “smuggler,” “real-life-sexual-crossing-guard,” and, for some reason, a cyborg.
  1. Chapter Thirteen: In Which I Rescue Masculinity by Taking Up Weight Lifting, Heroically

It’s subversive and important when I do it.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 When You Were Younger and You Got Home Early and You Were the First One Home and No One Else Was Out on the Street, Did You Ever Worry That the Rapture Had Happened without You? I Did. 1

Interlude I Chapter Titles from the On the Nose, Po-Faced Transmasculine Memoir I Am Trying Not to Write 7

Chapter 2 My Brothers, My Brothers, My Brothers' Keepers, My Brothers, My Brothers, My Brothers and Me 10

Interlude II Help Me, Brother, or I Sink 22

Chapter 3 Apollo and Hyacinthus Die Playing Ultimate Frisbee, and I Died Watching Teenage Boys Play Video Games 28

Interlude III Lord Byron Has a Birthday and Takes His Leave 32

Chapter 4 Reasons for Transitioning, in Order 38

Interlude IV If You Can't Parallel Park, You Have to Get a Sex Change 40

Chapter 5 Unwanted Coming-Out Disorder 44

Chapter 6 The Stages of Not Going on T 60

Interlude V Oh Lacanian Philosopher We Love You Get Up 63

Chapter 7 The Several Mortes D'Arthur 65

Interlude VI Cosmopolitan Magazine Cover Stories for Bewildered Future Trans Men Living in the Greater Chicago Area Between the Years 1994-2002 73

Interlude VII Marcus Aurelius Prepares for the New Year 75

Chapter 8 Evelyn Waugh and the Opposite of Communion 82

Interlude VIII Jacob and the Angel Wrasslin' Till Noon at Least 87

Chapter 9 Mary and Martha and Jesus and the Dishes 92

Interlude IX Columbo in Six Positions 99

Interlude X On Wednesdays We Mean Girls Wore Pink 102

Chapter 10 The Golden Girls and the Mountains in the Sea 110

Chapter 11 Captain James T. Kirk Is a Beautiful Lesbian, and I'm Not Sure Exactly How to Explain That 124

Interlude XI Rilke Takes a Turn 131

Chapter 12 Duckie from Pretty in Pink Is Also a Beautiful Lesbian, and I Can Prove It with the Intensity of My Feelings 133

Interlude XII I Have a Friend Who Thinks Umbrellas Are Enemies of the Collective Good, and I Have a Sneaking Suspicion They May Be Right 138

Chapter 13 Sir Gawain Just Wants to Leave Castle Make-Out 140

Interlude XIII No One Understands Henry VIII Like I Do 151

Chapter 14 "I Love Your Vibe," and Other Things I've Said to Men 155

Interlude XIV House Hunters 159

Chapter 15 And His Name Shall Be Called Something Hard to Remember 164

Chapter 16 Pirates at the Funeral: "It Feels Like Someone Died," But Someone Actually Didn't 166

Interlude XV Nora Ephron's I Feel Bad About My Neck, Transmasculine Edition 172

Chapter 17 Powerful T4T Energy in Steve Martin's The Jerk 176

Interlude XVI Did You Know That Athena Used to Be a Tomboy? 186

Chapter 18 It's Hard to Feel Sad Reading Hans Christian Andersen Because It's Just Another Story About a Bummed-Out Candlestick That Loves a Broom and Dies 190

Interlude XVII Dirtbag Sappho 198

Chapter 19 Dante Runs into Beatrice in Paradise 203

Interlude XVIII How I Intend to Comport Myself When I Have Abs Someday 209

Chapter 20 Paul and Second Timothy: The Transmasculine Epistles 214

Interlude XIX Something Nice Happens to Oedipus 218

Chapter 21 Destry Rides Again, or Jimmy Stewart Has a Body and So Do I 221

Interlude XX The Matriarchs of Avonlea Begrudgingly Accept Your Transition / Men of Anne of Green Gables Experience 230

Chapter 22 The Opposite of Baptism 232

Acknowledgments 237

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