Drag King Dreams
* Leslie Feinberg * Carroll & Graf * $14.95
With a flattop, muscles, and a working-class chip on her shoulder, Max Rabinowitz is butch in a way that gets her stared at, chased down dark New Jersey streets, and sometimes beaten up. It could also get her arrested if she weren’t, in her 40s, an old pro at dodging the cops. The central character of Leslie Feinberg’s second novel, Drag King Dreams, Max is so far outside the mainstream that she has no bank account or driver’s license and has to work off-the-record, usually as a bouncer at one of the few New York gay or drag bars that will have her. In many respects she’s an older version of Jess Goldberg from Feinberg’s acclaimed debut, Stone Butch Blues (1993). Her political values haven’t changed, but the years have worn away her belief in activism along with any hope of finding love.
All this changes when Max’s cross-dressing friend Vickie is murdered. And just as Max begins to wake from her torpor, America invades Iraq and Max’s kind Palestinian neighbor “disappears.”
Feinberg, a longtime transgender activist, opens a Pandora’s box of issues in Drag King Dreams–racism, Zionism, homophobia, transphobia, police violence, capitalist oppression, even the survival of Yiddish as a poetic language. Although the first three chapters feel rushed and flat, the rest of the novel ably conveys the complexities of Max’s life and the cycles of hope and heartbreak among her circle of queer and trans friends.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Liberation Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2006 Gale Group