“I was born on a farm in Whileaway.”
I was thinking how funny it would be for someone to write a book called “The Male Man”. I have no idea what it would be about, but it would make me laugh. This book also makes me laugh because at times it’s downright hilarious. It’s hard to exactly capture the structure of this book, and a plot description sort of oversells how much “happens” in this book. Instead the book is a lot of other science fiction writers (like Kurt Vonnegut especially) in structure, with the world of the book plopping out fully formed, and then only in chunks can we make sense of it. It’s a lot Kathy Acker fiction (although it predates most of her writing) as well, with huge sections of expected plot contrivances just sliced out.
The plot as there is one is a kind of crossroads of four parallel universes (one is KIND OF ours but not really) and the version of our main character/narrator of each visiting each other’s worlds as we learn about the worlds. But again, don’t go looking for plot so much as a sketch of each world and what it’s like to be this woman (or in one case, the female man) in the world too. And Joanna’s world (the one most like ours) is often told to snippets of conversation that is hilariously and depressingly misogynistic. You feel the longing in the book for even the more dangerous worlds that also offer more freedom, even if you have to win the freedom over and over through armed combat.