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Something That May Shock and Discredit You

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  595 ratings  ·  146 reviews
From the writer of Slates Dear Prudence column comes a witty and clever collection of essays and cultural observations spanning pop culturefrom 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 poetic
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 11th 2020 by Atria
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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.
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 Ortberg 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 very
If you ever read the late, lamented website The Toast, then youre familiar with Daniel Laverys love of literary parody. If you werent familiar with that site, then this collection of essays will seem even more all over the map than they already are.

Dont get me wrong -- I mostly enjoyed this book. But it is very, very uneven, and Ill confess that I skimmed a number of literarily-inspired essays where I wasnt familiar with the source material and didnt feel that I was grasping whatever they were
Jessica Woodbury
Feb 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
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 ...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. ...more
Feb 20, 2020 rated it liked it
Uneven but I'd love to read the Golden Girls essay over and over.
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 ...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
Mar 16, 2020 rated it it was ok
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.
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.
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 ...more
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
"My appetite at six, at nine, at twelve, at thirty, for stories like that were as boundless as my appetite for roast chicken skin; any fantasy that involved doing nothing when faced with important decisions while being praised for my appearance appealed to me. But one must, if one does not spontaneously die, do something when faced with important decisions."

The new book by Daniel Mallory Ortberg (known from gems such as Texts From Jane Eyre) evades any kind of categorization: are these essays?
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.
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 thats kind of his whole thing. I didnt 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.

(Im editing this in early 2020 to note that I reread the book after the final round of edits between the
Mark Schiffer
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Supremely enjoyable. Im not fully up on my classics/scripture so some of the play Daniel does is difficult for me to engage with, but otherwise this work sings. Ive been reading and listening to his work for awhile and for me this represents a highlight in the genre of memoir and cultural commentary regarding the queer and trans experience. Its also funny and beautiful as hell. ...more
Victoria Zieger
I liked that this author really just went into this book as himself and offered no apologies. The topics were entertaining and interesting. Some of the writing wasnt great for me and the use of allegory and retelling got a little bit annoying for me in parts. ...more
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 elses. 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, its a bit ...more
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 authors transition. I was onboard for that, but at 46% we havent 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 dont. I have found this jarring, heavily obscure quality to be true of the authors work in everything after Texts from Jane Eyre, and I find this mishmash, ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbt
At times cerebral and cynical, while at other times droll and laggy, Daniel Lavery's new queer AF collection of essays, "Something That May Shock and Discredit You," is a thoughtful installation in trans literature.

Daniel came to the realization of his gender identity later in life; at age 30 he decided to begin his transition, though what that means-and what it entails-, is exactly what his stories help him, and hopefully his reader, come to understand better. Each essay interweaves pop
Katie Mac
I received an eARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This one's a 3.5 for me. (I know, I know; I'm rating a lot of books 3.5 stars lately.)

The book feels very on-brand for Danny Lavery--chock full of humor and absurdism on topics he writes about in a way that makes me feel like I'm not smart enough to keep up with him. My favorite sections of this sort-of memoir are the more poignant chapters about his transition and how it affected him. (Plus, I learned that he ate at
Melinda Worfolk
Thanks to the publisher, Atria, for an advance review copy of this book (via Edelweiss+) in exchange for an honest review. A version of this review is also posted on Edelweiss+ and my blog.

Daniel Lavery is truly a gifted writer. To write as fluently and cleverly as he does is something most people only dream of. In this collection of essays and asides, he combines frank and lovely accounts of his gender transitioning with entertainingly and anachronistically imagined vignettes from the Bible,
Nov 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received this in a Goodreads giveaway from the publisher.

I loved this book. It was funny and poignant. I did think this was going to be a more traditional memoir and was hesitant, but instead it was a series of chapters and interludes that accurately reflect Daniel Ortberg's ongoing internet presence. If you've read and enjoyed anything Daniel Ortberg has written before, you'll definitely want to read this. There are a few chapters/interludes that appeared in his newsletter, but most are new.
Anna Richland
Mar 07, 2020 rated it liked it
I'm a Dear Prudence fan who had not previously read any of Lavery's books, so I was surprised by much of this style and content, to the say the least. I'll admit it, I was expecting something akin to the traditional memoir that Lavery [formerly Ortberg] rejects from the beginning. Okay, I thought, I'll see where this goes and the table of contents, with twenty-two chapters and twenty "interludes" is a pretty good marker of where it's going.

I had very mixed reactions as I read. Some chapters,
Far from what Lavery describes as the generic "on-the-nose, po-faced transmasculine memoir I am trying not to write," this book is so wonderfully idiosyncratic that it's impossible to imagine anyone else writing it. Chapter 17's discussion of T4T energy (high-quality Gomez and Morticia Addams content!) is an utter delight, and the two-page chapter "And His Name Shall Be Called Something Hard to Remember" is unforgettable.

The subsequent chapter, "Pirates at the Funeral: 'It Feels Like Someone
How can I write an unbiased review of Danny's book? I've been reading his work for seven years, from The Hairpin to the Toast to Dear Prudence. I'll do my best to try.

This is a collection of essays and interludes on subjects ranging from The Golden Girls' last episode to Dante's Inferno, from sobriety to the choice to start T, from "wrasslin'" with God to Destry Rides Again, from what masculinity means to why we narrate our lives to our dogs. Danny's humor is that of someone raised in
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is very "on-brand" for Daniel Lavery. Dark humor, cynical and cerebral, long paragraphs that take your breath away.

Spliced in between very insightful and personal essays on gender, identity and Daniel's transition, there are passages of the bible and philosophy. Daniel manages to make this relevant and almost exciting when applying to his own life.

This is powerful writing from a powerful voice.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Donna Davis
Ortberg wrote The Merry Spinster, a work of dark humor that convinced me that he is a genius. This book is a lot different, although at times the same voice peeks through. My thanks go to Atria Books and Net Galley for the review copy. This book is for sale now.

Many of the essays in this book are recycled from Ortbergs blog, but since I never saw the blog, all of it is new to me. The essays describe his experience as a trans man, and though it is funny in places, most of the pieces ooze pain
Mar 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
I adore this author for continually writing things that feel entirely new. This collection starts and ends sublimely, with humor and insight and great feeling. It gets a little bogged down in the middle by becoming overly obscure. At times it feels like the author is writing something only he could understand the resonance of. But in another way its sort of beautiful to watch him having such an intimate conversation with himself. A little difficult to get through, but glad I stuck with it and ...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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