Danny M. Lavery


An Interview with Danny M. Lavery, by A. E. Osworth

I read Something That May Shock and Discredit You with a pen in hand, underlining passages and wondering how Daniel Mallory Ortberg (who is socially going by Daniel Lavery after taking his wife’s last name) got so close to my own experiences as to be squatting in my own, personal brain. And that was before I knew I’d be speaking to him. I just didn’t want to forget anything. In particular: “My most desperate desire was not that I would be assisted in my transition but that someone would either force or forbid me to do it, because I could not take responsibility for annihilating my own life.” It’s a feeling I remember well, the longing to be pushed out of the closet or else barricaded in it, the understanding that nothing and everything would change once I spoke out loud the reasons for my sudden onset panic attacks, a problem I had never before had until all at once I realized why I was always uncomfortable. An annihilation, to be sure.

The book is a collection of essays and interludes, many of which have been previously published on Lavery’s popular email newsletter, The Shatner Chatner. It oscillates between deep thoughts about the nature of gender and transition, closely-read parody of the Bible and Greek myth, and Eldritch re-envisioning of House Hunters. Lavery’s writing stands on the theoretical shoulders of many a gender theorist before him, but that’s not what makes this book special. It is the lightness of prose that doesn’t at all interfere with the intellectual rigor of content, but rather enhances it. It is the inclusion and distortion of the pop culture landscape around us, situating the modern (post-modern? contemporary?) transsexual in a landscape of hot internet takes and e-dada-esque humor. It is the speaking directly to and for a trans community with blessedly little hedging toward a cis audience.