The Bridge

By Keith Maillard

The Bridge
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One writer's deeply compelling story of growing up nonbinary in the 1940s and '50s

"Most people know their gender identity by the time they are two or three. My memories don't go back quite that far, but as far back as I do remember, I was never certain. I asked my mother and ... Read more


Overview

One writer's deeply compelling story of growing up nonbinary in the 1940s and '50s

"Most people know their gender identity by the time they are two or three. My memories don't go back quite that far, but as far back as I do remember, I was never certain. I asked my mother and grandmother over and over again, 'Am I a boy, or am I a girl?'--asked so many times they got sick of answering and started getting mad at me, and then I would hear, 'I told you!' They always told me that I was a boy, but I was never convinced. It would take me over sixty years to arrive at a clear understanding of my problem--I was trapped inside what we now would call 'the gender binary,' the notion that there are only two choices. "

So begins The Bridge, Keith Maillard's fascinating memoir of growing up in West Virginia in the 1940s and '50s: a time and place where the word "nonbinary" didn't exist. This memoir from one of Canada's most celebrated writers is an instant classic--timely, accessible, and wonderfully evocative. Maillard is a natural, gifted storyteller.

Keith Maillard

Keith Maillard was born and raised in Wheeling, West Virginia, the inspiration for the fictional town of Raysburg, which serves as the setting for many of his novels. He has been a musician, a contributor for CBC Radio, a freelance photographer and journalist, and a designer of distance education courses. His reviews, poems and essays have appeared in many journals, ranging from Event to Flare. He is currently a professor at the University of British Columbia where he teaches creative writing. He lives in West Vancouver with his wife and two daughters.

Reviews

"A vulnerable and vital memoir about the search for identity and belonging outside the restrictive masculine gender norms of 1950s America. Novelist Keith Maillard's journey to locate himself as nonbinary in 'a narrative of gender' that had long excluded him is a valuable addition to literature about the lives and histories of trans and nonbinary people. "- Rachel Giese, author of Boys: What It Means to Become a Man

"Through constellated fragments of memory, key moments in twentieth-century America, and the unfolding of an acclaimed literary life, The Bridge is the forthright, deeply moving memoir of a nonbinary writer coming of age and coming to self. Intimate and expansive in equal measure, this story speaks with particular generosity to all of us who've been deemed 'too much' or 'too little' in our gender expression, as much by those who loved us as by those who despised us. This is a book that will stay with you long after its final lines, in all the very best ways. " - Daniel Heath Justice, author of Why Indigenous Literatures Matter

"Keith Maillard's engaging memoir about gender and the writing life is a tender and moving portrait of a writer's journey towards understanding themselves and their work. " - Zoe Whittall, author of The Best Kind of People

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