Paul Takes the Form of a Mor­tal Girl

An­drea Lawlor Res­cue Press (NOVEM­BER) Soft­cover $18 (388pp) 978-0-9860869-9-1

Foreword Reviews - - Reviews Adult Fiction -

Lawlor’s novel in­tro­duces hefty top­ics in a highly en­ter­tain­ing, fresh, and thought-pro­vok­ing way.

With their de­but, Paul Takes the Form of a Mor­tal Girl, An­drea Lawlor de­liv­ers a hi­lar­i­ous, orig­i­nal, gen­der-fluid novel re­plete with 1990s ca­chet, sex, and queer iden­tity. It’s an en­trance that ac­com­plishes what few writ­ers can, ad­dress­ing self-dis­cov­ery, con­nec­tion, and ac­cep­tance in a rau­cous, in­ven­tive way.

Have you ever wished you could be the op­po­site sex, when­ever you wanted? Meet Paul, a shape-shift­ing, gen­der-non­con­form­ing col­lege stu­dent whose mo­ti­vat­ing de­sire is to be as hot as pos­si­ble, no mat­ter what sex he chooses to be.

Paul is adrift. Min­i­mally show­ing up for classes at a Mid­west col­lege, Paul spends much time hunt­ing for sex­ca­pades, free cof­fee, and food. With Paul’s abil­ity to con­sciously change ap­pear­ance and gen­der, these in­ter­lope into as many sub­sets of queer cul­ture, col­lege life, and one night stands as are avail­able, all while demon­strat­ing their in­ex­haustible knowl­edge of riot gr­rrl mu­sic and run­ning fash­ion com­men­tary.

While pro­vid­ing all the aes­thetic of mid1990s queer cul­ture, and sat­is­fy­ing all phys­i­cal urges while mor­ph­ing be­tween man and woman, Paul’s shal­low­ness masks deep feel­ings of iso­la­tion and yearn­ing to con­nect with some­one.

Lawlor mas­ter­fully ex­hibits their knowl­edge of gen­der iden­tity by cre­at­ing fully re­al­ized LGBTQ char­ac­ters and avoid­ing stereo­types. They slyly in­ter­sperse the nar­ra­tive with short, Brothers Grimm-like fa­bles and fairy tales that ques­tion the historical im­pact of gen­der iden­tity that is passed down from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion.

Even with Paul’s snarky hu­mor, the story makes a pointed case that de­sire, and be­ing de­sired, are univer­sal at­tributes, re­gard­less of gen­der or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. It sub­tly con­veys Paul’s iso­la­tion by re­fus­ing to make Paul choose a gen­der or an ori­en­ta­tion, in­stead hav­ing him search for a re­flec­tion, a kin­ship that su­per­sedes anatomy.

Gen­der-fluid and gen­der non­con­form­ing lit­er­a­ture is un­der­ex­plored in gen­eral, but Lawlor’s

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