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The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt

3.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  128 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
If you have ever felt like a misfit in school or been paralyzed by your family’s imposing expectations, if you have ever obsessed about your appearance or panicked about choosing a career path, if you have ever wondered if every single thing to which your body is exposed, from egg yolks to X-rays, might harm you, then you may be surprised to find a kindred spirit in The Ma ...more
Paperback, ARC, 294 pages
Published 2011 by Random House
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 411)
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Poppy
This is like sitting with your chattiest gay male friend on a 3 day coke binge. I fail to see the whole life impact of getting a hernia in high school.

Also, I hate to say this but - First World Problems. A Harvard education, a law degree and making 12 an hour babysitting. . . no wonder your parents are bewildered and dismayed. I don't think that being gender variant means you have to give up on the concept of working for a living. But whatever, the guy is brave to be out about his stuff.
Abbey
Jun 29, 2011 Abbey rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was BEYOND terrible. Jon-Jon Goulian is like a wannabe Augusten Burroughs or David Sedaris, only he suffers from serious writer's ADD and a spoiled upbringing.

I found myself beginning a chapter with a comprehensive anecdote- then being thrown down a maze of tangents only to come back to the original thought with nothing to show for it. The point of the story is completely lost on me. What I learned about his life is that he is a middle-aged extremely vain man from a driven and wealthy
...more
Ellen
Jun 03, 2011 Ellen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
It's not required by law that people tangentially related to publishing in New York have to read this book. I just want to put that out there.
Velma
Let's just cut to the chase, shall we? "I hesitate to bore you with walking you through them." This, from the penultimate chapter of this bore of a memoir, although referring to the potential "moral implications" of the author's prototypical Freudian interaction with his mommy as a child, could serve just as well as a stand-alone indictment of this entire account. I, as reviewer, hesitate to bore you with walking through the myriad shortcomings of this tepid tome, but bore you I shall.

Don't get
...more
Nicolemauerman
This memoir was very frustrating. The purpose of the book is for the author to explain why he turned out so abnormal (dressing like a woman, OCD, cannot hold a job) when he grew-up in a family of over-achievers. The author never really explains why. Instead he jumps from thought to thought and story to story. One wonders if his underachievement could be explained as a simple case of ADD combined with OCD. I felt that the author was trying to gain sympathy from his childhood having grown-up with ...more
Dylan
I won this book from a giveaway and I entered it for no reason other than the title caught my eye. Not knowing what the book would be about I started it ready for anything, and what I got was nothing I was expecting. The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt is a memoir, each chapter opening with something happening in his life, and then quickly shifting to something else from his past that relates to the theme of that chapter. While this did lead me to expecting what was coming next I really did like t ...more
Bob Lopez
May 29, 2011 Bob Lopez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book! What a down-to-earth guy he is; more so, even, because of his raging insecurities...he's beyond grounded, he's downright catatonic. There is very little that is unusual about Jon-Jon apart from his name and how he chooses to dress himself. Life has been a struggle, a competition between what is expected of him and what he is capable of...the sad part is that he often takes himself out of the fight, for fear of failure, fear of not living up, or for the sake of fear itself. He's a ger ...more
Karla
Aug 01, 2011 Karla rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
I received this as a first reads giveaway as well. I must also admit that the title caught me because I have been wanting to read "The Man In the Gay Flannel Shirt", and thought this one may offer an interesting twist. I am sorry, but I could not get through it. I can see how this might be more engaging to someone who really enjoys the tragic memoir style of writing that it offers. Just not my cup of tea. One can only listen to the whinings of a poor little rich kid for so long.
janine
“For the great bulk of my adult life, beginning roughly when I was sixteen and continuing, off and on, until now, at the age of forty, I have fallen short, sometimes dangerously short, of the conventional ideal of masculinity.” So begins Jon-Jon Goulian’s memoir, a courageous explanation of why he is who he is. Be yourself, his writing wants to implore, even if your self doesn’t meet the standards of the exacting, categorizing culture you live in.

Reading this book is an interesting -- if sometim
...more
Rachel Dixon
Oct 18, 2011 Rachel Dixon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I read this book after reading an interview with Jon-Jon and very much thinking that I wanted to have a conversation with him at a bar someday. The book reads similarly, which is his greatest asset. He is instantly likeable.

Memoirs are weird, which is why I choose often to not read the genre; many of its authors think they are much more interesting than they are. Jon-Jon is the black sheep of the family and a straight dude who wears a skirt most of the time. Otherwise he is just as neurotic as a
...more
Rebeccahowden
Feb 18, 2012 Rebeccahowden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Disclaimer: I have spent time with the author personally and his loveliness may be biasing this review, but I genuinely did enjoy reading the book before I met him.

Jon-Jon Goulian is one of the strangest people I’ve ever met. He’s also one of the sweetest, and his utterly lovable memoir is both heartbreaking and heart-warming, leaving you with an intense desire to give him a big hug – and maybe go out shopping with him.

For anyone who has ever felt like a fish out of water, Goulian’s story strike
...more
Megan
Sep 22, 2011 Megan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall, this was just okay. Some parts were simply boring, and others were annoying or offensive enough that I was tempted to ditch it and move on to my next book. I stuck with it because it is also, at times, witty and entertaining.

The author is a very privileged white boy, fairly bright, who is excruciatingly vain and self-absorbed. He criticizes himself frequently, but in a way that makes me think he secretly thinks he's the bee's knees. He makes sweeping generalizations about females and o
...more
Ozma
Dec 09, 2011 Ozma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was the first book I read on my new Kindle (kindly gifted by my brother -- a kind kindle gift!). It was a great book to read on the Kindle because I wasn't sure if I wanted to invest in buying the book, but I did want to read it. The Kindle edition was less of a "commitment." I read a piece by the author in Vogue and was impressed with his writing. The story -- of basically the first metrosexual man ever and his poor, confused childhood -- sucked me in a lot more than I thought it would. Wh ...more
Catherine Woodman
This is a memoir that I think is supposed to be funnier than I found it--the fascination with cross dressing (which is what I would call this, not androgyny) and the anxiety about sex screams get yourself to a therapist ASAP, rather than writing a book about it (although maybe you have to admit it to yourself before you can tell someone else and this is like bloggin about it big time). I found it strangely sad--I did not feel sorry for the author--not that kind of sad, but rather it left me perp ...more
Lisa Bertagnoli
Jul 26, 2011 Lisa Bertagnoli rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I LOVED this book. It struck me, sort of, as the male Bossypants - the story of how a quite unusual character came to be. I loved how Goulian walked me through his life. I loved that he credits his "androgyne about town" status to just, well, fate - not crappy parents or a crappy childhood, anything like that. I couldn't wait to finish it and was sad when it ended. If you like stories about curious lives, read this book.
Manintheboat
Aug 07, 2011 Manintheboat rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Poor cyclical writing that never goes anywhere or says anything. Boring. Pathetic.
Shannon Baas
I found this was a very strange book. I would not recommend it to anyone.
dana
Aug 01, 2011 dana rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No substance here. None. :(
Megan
This was a very surprising and interesting memoir. I'm not exactly sure how to describe it because I'm not exactly sure how to describe Jon-Jon. That's kind of the whole point of the book; Jon-Jon's trying to explain not only to his family and friends and readers, but also to himself, who he is and how he became who he is. He had a promising start in a family full of potential, excelling in advanced placement math and science classes and a star athlete on his school's soccer team. But somehow al ...more
Daniel
Nov 03, 2011 Daniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I signed up for the free goodreads giveaway of this book, I originally thought it was called "The Man in the Grey Flannel Shirt" which definitely led to some confusion upon receiving the book. After I figured out the correct title, and got used to the style and theme of the story, I was able to thoroughly enjoy the read. The book is separated into several chapters that skip around through his life--each chapter focusing on scattered events of his life that share similar themes. Goulian illu ...more
Trey
May 19, 2011 Trey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trey by: first reads
Shelves: first-reads
I received an advance copy of this book through the First Reads program.

This memoir is Jon-Jon Goulian's best attempt to answer the question, asked by his family, friends, and even his younger self, "Why are you the way you are?" Coming from a family of successful and relatively normal people, Jon-Jon found himself drowning in a sea of high expectations, and seems to have spent his entire adult life running from them. Despite a promising start to his academic and athletic careers, Jon-Jon gave u
...more
Ila
Jun 27, 2011 Ila rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am thankful to have won this book as a Goodreads First Read Giveaway.


It is a little hard to review memoirs for the writing and experience with the story, and not have it seem like you are reviewing the person's life. In an attempt to not provide any spoilers or joke punchlines, I can say that Jon Jon has had quite an interesting life, full of so many ups and downs.

This is a down-to-earth memoir that is very blunt, straight-forward and comical. I really enjoyed that the book got to the point
...more
Marley
Aug 21, 2011 Marley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, 2011
Decent though ultimately sad. I could relate to Goulian's indecision, identity crisis, despair over a potentially wasted life, exhaustion at the world... The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit is apparently about taking responsibility for one's own life (according to Goodreads' summary)...something Goulian still struggles to do as he approaches his 40's. Also he wears skirts. So--good title. This guy has the background and the intelligence to really delve into gender theory and critique society from h ...more
Shelley
Jul 01, 2011 Shelley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shelley by: first reads
Shelves: first-reads
I received this from goodreads as a first reads pick and was excited to read it!

It was a fast read but I found myself having a love/hate relationship with the material.

The book is wonderfully written, witty, entertaining and relatable. I mean, who hasn't felt out of place at some point in their lives? As someone who has lived in San Diego, I also enjoyed Mr. Goulian's anecdotes about the area.

On the other side of the coin, it was maddening! Who throws away the opportunities that he was given? Ho
...more
Megan
Jan 19, 2016 Megan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw Jon-Jon read from this book at a reading series in NYC and I was instantly intrigued. I am drawn to stories of unusual people and this certainly fit the bill. While this book wasn't always a page-turner, I did grow to really like the author because of his struggles.
Fiona
Mar 27, 2014 Fiona rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was mildly interesting. Self indulgent. I didn't really care that this man wore a skirt. I wanted him to get a life. Yes, he's a hypochondriac, nothing really bad has happened to him, he just is more comfortable in skirts. Big deal.
Betty
What an entertaining author! I won this advance copy from Goodreads First Reads. I entered this giveaway thinking it was the Guy in the Gray Flannel Suit... I found this author's style of writing quite interesting, yet I had difficulty identifying with this character. He seemed to have so many insecurities despite the fact that he was quite talented and gifted. He seemed so obsessed with his appearance, and at times it seemed to me that he wanted to "shock" others with his dress and his actions. ...more
Spideygirl
I liked this book because I like quirky people pouring their heart and innermost secrets out onto the page. If the book's purpose was to explain why he was the way he was I don't think he answered it. It was amazing for me to read how Jon-Jon's self-perceived poor body image caused him to put so many restrictions on himself, not to mention quirky habits.
As far as the writing goes, it was meandering. So many tangents that took you so far you forgot what he was trying to explain. But he did always
...more
Erika
Feb 02, 2012 Erika rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although this book meandered a bit too much for me at times, jumping around chronologically and using some rather long sentences, I don't think I've read anything quite like it. I think it is a very relevant book for our times. Can we file this under a new category called Therapeutic Memoir? I was touched by Jon-Jon's story, even if I was not always sure where it was going. However, lack of clear direction does not a poor book make, and in the end I got it. I learned some tolerance and probably ...more
Deborah
Aug 11, 2011 Deborah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book via a goodreads giveaway. It was great! If you've ever felt like you didn't fit in, this is the book for you. Jon-Jon writes about very sensitive issues for most of us with such humor and joie de vie the book is hard to put down. I started it, but was in the middle of moving across country, and it got lost in the shuffle. After finding it again, I restarted it and finished it in one day. Truly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to almost everybody who has ever been unc ...more
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Jon-Jon Goulian was born in 1968 and grew up in La Jolla, California. After attending Columbia College and NYU Law School, he worked as a law clerk for a federal judge in North Carolina, and then as an assistant to Robert Silvers of The New York Review of Books. He now lives, by himself, in South Wardsboro, Vermont, where he spends most of his time gardening. The Man in the Gray Flannel Skirt is h ...more
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“In compulsively keeping myself out of view, I was participating, without realizing it, in a rich New York tradition. Loners and shut-ins and hermits are what keep New York City from imploding. If all the people who never leave their apartments in New York City suddenly left their apartments, the city's infrastructure would crumble.” 2 likes
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