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Something That May Shock and Discredit You

3.86  ·  Rating details ·  2,091 ratings  ·  450 reviews
From the writer of Slate’s “Dear Prudence” column comes a witty and clever collection of essays and cultural observations spanning pop culture—from the endearingly popular to the staggeringly obscure.

Sometimes you just have to yell. New York Times bestselling author of Texts from Jane Eyre Daniel M. Lavery publishing as Daniel Mallory Ortberg has mastered the art of “poeti
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Atria
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Average rating 3.86  · 
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 ·  2,091 ratings  ·  450 reviews

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Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
what a gift Daniel Ortberg is.
Emily Vanderwerff
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I think this might be the best trans (or "trans-adjacent," as Daniel Lavery would probably prefer) book I've ever read? It brims with thoughtfulness, with joy, and with life.

As always, I think I am not as in love with the classics as the author, but I enjoyed watching him discover anew what he loved in them with the new knowledge that comes from transition. And there are certain chapters that are heart-rending and beautiful (especially one about The Golden Girls, of all things). Also it's often
Mar 09, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2020
A fast-paced collection of personal essays about trans identity, Something That May Shock and Discredit You approaches the process of transitioning through the lenses of pop culture and religion. Ortberg alternately draws upon his love of television and film and his evangelical upbringing, in considering what it means to transition from cis womanhood to trans manhood. Sporadically interspersed among the many humor pieces are thought-provoking insights into transitioning.
If you ever read the late, lamented website The Toast, then you’re familiar with Daniel Lavery’s love of literary parody. If you weren’t familiar with that site, then this collection of essays will seem even more all over the map than they already are.

Don’t get me wrong -- I mostly enjoyed this book. But it is very, very uneven, and I’ll confess that I skimmed a number of literarily-inspired essays where I wasn’t familiar with the source material and didn’t feel that I was grasping whatever the
Jessica Woodbury
If you are new to Lavery's writing you will find this book either very confusing or immediately and absolutely your shit. I don't know if there's much inbetween. If you were a reader of The Toast (RIP) you probably know to expect a whole lot of very specific revamps of old and new stories and pieces of pop culture. The book's interludes have lots of the Bible, but beyond that go from Pilgrim's Progress to Mean Girls to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to Anne of Green Gables. But what makes this ...more
Mar 18, 2020 rated it liked it
I feel like Daniel Ortberg (now Lavery)'s stuff can be pretty hit or miss with me, and that's fine--I think his ideal audience is probably people who, like. him were raised Christian and/or are trans. There are tons of references that I just don't get, and that's fine, I'm sure they're making a lot of other readers feel seen.

That said, this book is very Christianity-heavy up front, in a way that almost made me put it down. It's not preachy, but I'm just not equipped to enjoy those deep dives int
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: physical-owned, arc
The thing that probably fascinates me most about this book as a book is trying to categorize it's genre. I think I would land on a theological exploration of gender told through personal essays and literary pastiche? Which... yeah, I haven't read anything quite in that genre before. That said, the polyphonic quality completely worked for me. I felt like I really learned something about the lived experience of someone different than myself (thematically, this is an exploration of Daniel's transit ...more
Morgan M. Page
Feb 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing
To say, "this reinvents the entire trans memoir genre" would be to completely undersell Daniel Mallory Lavery's Something That May Shock and Discredit You. Rather than a straight-forward transition account, full of its attendant clichés (I have always known, why when I was a child I was troubling gender the likes of which Judith Butler could scarcely imagine!, etc.), Lavery gives us a series of meditations in his signature kalidescope of cultural references - highbrow, lowbrow, and Biblical. Ath ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read2020, essays
A book of writings about becoming a trans man. I was not surprised by the pop culture content, and found some shared experiences with the evangelical childhood content. What I was not expecting was the deep dives on Classical Literature and Philosophy, which honestly I'm not sure I am well-versed enough with to understand all the connections. I appreciated the somewhat shuffling, self-deprecating tone, even if I didn't believe it completely. ...more
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: lgbtq, nonfiction, memoirs
I really appreciate Daniel's perspective on being trans, especially since he emphasizes that things aren't always as black-and-white as we make them to be. He has a lot of ideas that I hadn't previously considered. That said, this was really unorganized and didn't seem like a cohesive collection, just a lot of rambling. It's all over the place and that shouldn't be the case for a published work. ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Uneven but I'd love to read the Golden Girls essay over and over. ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this at 10pm and stayed up reading far into the night. Daniel Ortberg's writing has a way of seeming flippant and nonchalant while at the same time being absolutely emotionally and spiritually devastating. His last book, The Merry Spinster, applied this to fairy tales and short pieces of fiction to provide insight and expose painful cultural truths, but when he uses this skill to share pieces of his own life and recent transition, it is utterly and masterfully done beyond any w ...more
“I often described my sudden shift in self-awareness as feeling as if a demon had entered my room in the middle of the night, startled me awake by whispering, ‘What if you were a man, sort of?’ into my ear, then slithered out the window before I could ask any follow-up questions.”

This would honestly be five stars except for a handful of essays/interludes that were too experimental and obscure for me to get anything out of them.

I’m going to keep this review short and sweet for a couple of rea
musa b-n
May 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was listening to this rather than reading and thought that would draw it out longer than I would spend reading it otherwise. But I sped through it just as quick! One particular moment that sticks out to me takes place in my bathtub, where I am sitting down in the shower because my legs hurt but I need to scrub my face. I have the book playing on the speaker, and he is explaining a story of two believers crossing a river together, worried about their feet teaching the bottom. He is in the river ...more
Gretchen Rubin
These are essays that are sometimes hilarious, sometimes profound, very engaging on the subject of identity and relationships.
Georgia (thefictionfolio)
“I have been, and sort of am, a good woman. I could be, and sort of am, a good man. Neither option is forbidden to me, and I don’t believe there is an inherent virtue in, I don’t know, “lifelong gender consistency.” One is not better or worse than the other, and I don’t believe that a shifting sense of identity is wrong, or a sign of unwellness.”

This was so unexpected and so excellent, and falls into my favourite niche sub-genre of memoir meets critical theory meets media criticism. It was t
Amanda Morgan
Dec 13, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
Have to admit I'm not quite halfway through and I'm giving up on this book. Life is too short for this nonsense.
This review is based on the first 100 pages.
First, I commend the author on choosing to live as his true self. It's evident in this book that's a decision he did not come to easily or lightly.
That said, while I empathize with your struggle, I thought the copious amount of essays regarding this struggle could have been whittled down and perhaps other topics addressed to offer variety to
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A very good book!! About half of it is a little too academic for me, or relies heavily on biblical allusion which I'm unable to follow, but the other half is extremely poignant! + the parts that I did not understand are nevertheless well-written and pleasant to read.

I admit that I came into the book looking for some insight on what the author refers to as the "t4t" relationship model, + while there is much less in here than I hoped, it did deliver. I would probably be better off reading a memoi
May 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
immensely funny, extremely culturally specific to an evangelical xtian upbringing that prevented me from understanding many of the references, but still very worth my while. i’d say the weakest part of the book for me were the bits written from the perspective of various dead authors & literary figures—they were hit or miss. the way lavery writes about being trans felt brutally real & very very funny.
Books on Stereo
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Quick Take: Something That May Shock and Discredit You (STMSDY) is a memoir told in a mashup of genres and pop cultural references. Ortberg's writing is effortlessly honest, while tender in its approach to its subject matter. However, the length of STMSDY was far too long resulting in certain ideas and motif being continually re-cycled via a different lens. Illuminating, but a bit too long. ...more
Laura Sackton
I honestly can't remember a book that made me laugh so hard and cry so hard. The juxtaposition of weird, irreverent, bittingly funny and tender, vulnerable, serious made for a wild, breathtaking book. There is so much weirdness here, so much uncertainty, and also a lot of celebration of trans lives and identity. Ortberg doesn't make anything simple, and it makes for a rich and lasting reading experience. I will be thinking about this one for a long time. He delves into transition from so many un ...more
Isaac R. Fellman
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It is hard to guess what Danny Lavery will do next — on a book, essay, sentence, or cellular level — and that’s kind of his whole thing. I didn’t predict that this would be one-third memoir, one-third jokes, and one-third sophisticated and subtle biblical exegesis, but I am deeply grateful for the result. By peculiar hairpin turns, the book is revelatory, stingingly argued, witty, and kind.

(I’m editing this in early 2020 to note that I reread the book after the final round of edits between the
Feb 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
I honestly have no idea what this is trying to be. Part of it is a memoir of the author’s transition. I was onboard for that, but at 46% we haven’t moved past the idea of his being unsure of his desire to transition. Interspersed with that is a series of jarring interludes, some of of which thematically connect to the memoir, many of which don’t. I have found this jarring, heavily obscure quality to be true of the author’s work in everything after Texts from Jane Eyre, and I find this mishmash, ...more
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Somehow this book really spoke to my Gemini energy. It bounces all over the place and takes the transmasc experience on a self-conscious, weird and beautiful journey through ancient texts and myths, personal and universal *queer feelings*, and through the rocky terrain of Ortberg's body and mind (and whose body and mind are not rocky terrain? I love that jagged coastline of body, barnacle scrapes and all). I highly recommend this read. ...more
Lauren James
May 18, 2020 added it
Shelves: lgbtqia
A really interesting look at transitioning gender by a master wordsmith. Filled with humour, honesty, literary references and good taste. I will always love anything he writes, and this is no exception.
Syar S Alia
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: acquired
This book delighted me and made me laugh so much. I read out many sentences to a friend and made her laugh also. It also made me have cool interesting thoughts about how weird gender is in general and how we should all think about it more, which I enjoy.
Uma Dwivedi
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: essays
dan lavery is a very brilliant and compassionate genius and funnier than nearly any other writer i can think of. i was also touched by & grateful for his rigor when talking about transmasculinity, which was usually charming & satirical but always soothingly thorough. currently considering the etiquette and ethics of asking my loved ones to read this book instead of me coming out and having to have a real out loud conversation.
Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I think this one took me awhile to get through because I wanted to give space between the chapters and interludes, to sort of let each piece settle before moving on to the next. For some, I think reading Something That May Shock and Discredit You might involve a bit of genre/context whiplash, but it is worth sticking through. It is personal, but never shallow. It is funny, but never forced. I am looking forward to revisiting this text quite a lot.

Standout Favorites (wherein I list half the book
Like many Very Online Millennials, I came to Daniel Mallory Ortberg* through his humor writing, which is weird and erudite and loopy and allusive and unlike anyone else’s. The same adjectives apply to his new memoir Something That May Shock and Discredit You, in which he turns to a much more personal and raw subject: his coming out as a trans man. But techniques that work so well in short pieces can be frustrating in a full-length book; and in our voyeuristic tell-all culture, it’s a bit disconc ...more
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Also see Mallory Ortberg and Daniel M. Lavery.

Daniel Mallory Ortberg is the “Dear Prudence” advice columnist at Slate, the cofounder of The Toast, and the New York Times bestselling author of Texts From Jane Eyre and The Merry Spinster.

(source: Amazon)

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