Rated 4.50/5 based
on 10 reviews
Dean, a 22-year old female-to-male-transsexual, is no LGBT poster boy. Unemployed, depressed, mid-transition, friendless, and still living in the upstairs bedroom of his parents’ house, he can think of little to do but write his memoir. In the third person, he tells the tale of his would-be love affair with his college roommate, Colin, another trans man with a girlfriend and a successful band. More
Dean, a 22-year old female-to-male-transsexual, is no LGBT poster boy. Unemployed, depressed, mid-transition, friendless, and still living in the upstairs bedroom of his parents’ house in a conservative suburb, he can think of little to do but write his memoir. In the third person, he tells the tale of his would-be love affair with his college roommate, Colin, another trans man with a girlfriend and a successful indie rock band. The plot is interrupted intermittently by Dean’s first person commentary, often criticizing middle-class conformity—but the queer counter culture as well. He is obsessed with Morrissey of The Smiths and wants nothing in life other than the same level of fame. As his far-fetched dreams become a foreseeable reality, he must decide between honesty and belonging, conformity or isolation, community or self.
Refuse is an urgent novel that speaks to the alienation of transgender youth and will ring true to many outsiders, over-thinkers, and underachievers. It tackles the pressing concerns of depression, suicide, unemployment, and discrimination, oscillating between irreverent wit and sincere confessions. A manifesto, a transgender narrative, a coming of age tale, a satire, an homage to a musical legend, and a star-crossed love story, Refuse is a singular work of trangender fiction. “DeLine,” says Out in Print Queer Book Reviews, “is a writer to watch.”
“…a witty and provocative debut novel chronicling a young, intelligent, and deeply insecure protagonist, Dean, through his ambivalent attempts at securing love and connection within and without the transgender community.”
TT Jaxx, Lambda Literary Review
"Refuse could meaningfully be compared to the work of Dennis Cooper (with far less violence), Brett Easton Ellis (with far fewer chemical substances), David Sedaris (with not as many belly laughs) and Leslie Feinberg (with a much less mournful air). Conversant with the queer coming-of-age narrative, the disaffected-youth novel and the transgender memoir—as well as the feminist and gender theory that each of these literary genres has inspired—DeLine pushes back against the familiar, and safe, conventions of these sources to produce a captivating story populated by fully rendered, completely believable characters who, while not always likable, and never the objects of pity, somehow manage to make an affective claim on the reader. With this as his debut effort, DeLine, not yet out of college, is a writer to watch.”
Out in Print Queer Book Reviews
"Refuse is a stunning debut “novoir” about an over-observant young outsider with really great hair who is outside everything – including the transgender community – but keeps a great deal bottled up inside. Funny, cynical, tough, vulnerable, honest, deluded, sagacious, self-loving and self-loathing, Refuse is irresistible."
Mark Simpson, author of Saint Morrissey
“In order to understand why Refuse by Elliott DeLine is such a refreshing read, a few things have to happen first. You need to read all the other books that have transgender protagonists, then read some interviews with transgender people talking about their experience…add a few gender theory books, laugh at the SCUM Manifesto, lurk on tumblr for a bit and insert yourself into any discussion on the gender binary, and maybe even go to a few support groups. Then after you have become so saturated with overzealous queerness and an almost evangelical devotion to the idea of gender itself, along with a few shame and guilt cycles, Refuse will feel as if it’s pulling you out of the vortex of your own creation and telling you to just calm down… The transgender narrative form is still very new. Right now, there is not a lot of variation on the themes involved, but Refuse is a step in the right direction.”
Evelyn Deshane, Absynth,Trent University’s Alternative Press
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