I am firmly of the belief that if you can make a playlist out of songs mentioned in a book, then it is (probably!) a great book. Paul, a 90’s punk Orlando who traverses queer subcultures throughout America, is one of the best protagonists I’ve ever encountered. This book is wild, filthy, and fantastic – and I absolutely love it.
Picked by Ríbh
It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a lesbian best friend, makes zines, and is a flaneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter.
Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early 90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation. Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl is a riotous, razor-sharp bildungsroman whose hero/ine wends his way through a world gutted by loss, pulsing with music, and opening into an array of intimacy and connections.