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GEOFF BROWN
I Want What I Want


click to enlarge

Panther, London, 1972
(first published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in 1966)
(price: 35p; 224 pages)


The blurb on the back:

I WANT
you to call me Wendy
I WANT
to wear your bra
In fact
I WANT WHAT I WANT
not what other people think I ought to want

Our hero(ine), a highly intelligent boy, has little education and a love for his sister's clothes. His dad is appalled. His psychiatrist can't make contact. And he's sad himself: he can't have the operation he would like. So he dresses for the part. And then Frank falls in love with him...
Freak? No, he's a character in an astonishing book, a figure who typifies, exaggerates and pinpoints the solitude of all mankind.


Now we're on to something. This is one of the great classics of transsexual literature, beautifully written, acutely observed, thoroughly convincing and not a little depressing. If you don't mind that last bit, it's well worth seeking out - apart from anything else, it paints an interesting alternative vision of Swingin' England in the 1960s. (You may wish to compare and contrast with George Moor's The Pole And Whistle). And the cover's a very tasteful bit of work as well.

The book was filmed in 1971 by director John Dexter (who had earlier given us his vision of The Virgin Soldiers, complete with cameo from David Bowie), with a script by Gillian Freeman and the heavyweight casting of Harry Andrews and Jill Bennett. Unfortunately there then seems to have been something of a loss of nerve, and a woman was cast in the lead role of Roy/Wendy, which somewhat undercuts the point; on the other hand, the actress chosen was Anne Heywood, who was married to the film's producer, Raymond Stross, a curious fact which intrigues greatly. Having not seen the film, I can't comment, but my understanding is that - while the critics regard it as being total tosh - it is still fondly regarded by many in the transgender community: however flawed, it does at least exist (see the site listed below).

The original book requires no such allowances being made, and is recommended in its own right.


ARTISTIC MERIT: 3/5
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE:
3/5
HIPNESS QUOTIENT:
3/5


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