Time is the Thing the Body Moves Through - by T Fleischmann. Review by Dale Boyer
Note: a version of this review appeared formerly in The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide
"I always know there's going to be some bullshit at the airport," comments the author at one point in this essay about the journey toward selfhood by a transsexual writer. The book is part memoir, part meditation, and part riff on the work of AIDS artist and activist, Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Some of Gonzalez-Torres' most famous pieces were "portraits" composed of piles of candy; as the viewer took a piece, ate it, and threw away the wrapper, the pile was dispersed, signifying death, the dispersal of AIDS, etc.
Fleischmann's work uses this not only to examine interactions with other lovers and friends over time, but also to try to get at the notion of how a sense of self is strung together. Writing of his struggle with gender and identity, Fleischmann states: "it was impossible to see myself, not because of what I was looking at, but rather because I couldn't get beyond what everyone else was looking at."
An earlier work, Szygy: Beauty, utilized the metaphor of how celestial bodies align to examine the same issue, but Time is the Thing seems to me a quantum leap forward, stylistically. Indeed -- ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly -- this work, along with another work by a transsexual writer (Ari Banias' anybody) seem to me to be two of the best explorations of identity and selfhood I've ever encountered. It is, by turns, blunt, confrontational, dazzlingly eloquent, exciting, original, and somewhat indescribable.
As the author says in a comic aside: "what I'm really writing is a love letter to prose, a book that is slutty about it." Exactly.