Norah Vincent’s exploration of what it means to be a man in modern-day American society can be summed up in one word: delicious. Self-Made Man is scattered with humor and has a very smooth and easy-to-read style throughout it. Vincent traded in “Norah” for the moniker “Ned” during the eighteen months she spent as a man. She changed not only her appearance but her way of looking at life. She experienced life as a man in many different settings: a strip club, a monastery, a men’s retreat, and she took a job as a “salesman.” She went on dates as a man, receiving first-hand experience of how other women view and treat men. Her transformation was so thoroughly draining that Vincent suffered a mental breakdown, leaving the door wide open for her next book, Voluntary Madness: Lost and Found in the Mental Healthcare System.
This is one of few books that I would elect to read many more times. Vincent’s diction is engaging and subconsciously encourages people to examine their own views of gender. Her journey makes for an interesting story in and of itself: a woman pretending to be a man in today’s society. Her own gender norms leaned towards the more masculine side of femininity. Yet, at the same time, she was still a woman, leading to some awkward moments when her feminine side snuck out during her charade. Vincent’s writing makes it so that the reader can feel the mental and physical turmoil this adventure had on her. A delightful writer with a captivating story to tell, Norah Vincent dressed up Self-Made Man with discernment and quick wit.
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