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Boys Like Her: Transfictions

by Taste This Collective

You could call Boys Like Her a road novel – if road novels ever featured gender-bending tattooed dykes – mixed with a performance piece. Adapted from a live show that toured in 1995, the book is a collection of stories, photographs, poems, and musings by Taste This, a Vancouver-based collective whose members are Lyndell Montgomery, Anna Camilleri, Ivan E. Coyote, and Zoë Eakle.

Exploring sex, violence, alienation, and love, the book mainly concerns itself with exploding boundaries – of sexuality and gender, in particular. “These stories are true,” states the introduction, “except the ones we made up. They are written by four women, except when we’re not.”

Some work doesn’t translate well from performance to print. What’s profound and challenging onstage seems at times, a little trite or pretentious on the page.

Which isn’t to say that these four are shallow. Camilleri’s story of childhood sexual abuse and her pursuit of justice as an adult is powerful and haunting. Coyote’s tales of being pressured to be more like a girl – as a child she passed as a boy at the local pool, wearing only her bikini bottom – are both funny and painful.

Tying the somewhat disparate book together is the retelling of being pulled over at the Canadian border and searched as the group returns from a gig in Seattle. Each tells her version of events at the beginning of the book’s four sections (Bound, Sick, Bent, and Wet).

As the Customs’ officers paw through their belongings, Eakle – who has some of the strongest work in the book – sums up their situation and the book’s most engaging theme.

“To cross the U.S./Canada border without incident it is best to look and act as though you never have and never would think of crossing any border, metaphoric or otherwise, without the express permission of someone very official…. Either that or you yourself have to actually own the border outright. If you do not own it, transgressions are not allowed.”