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Psychopomps

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4.50  ·  Rating details ·  60 ratings  ·  14 reviews
In 2010, Alex DiFrancesco had a different name and was a missing person. Alone in a mental hospital, they began to have fantasies of running away permanently, changing their name, growing a beard. In their journey to coming out as transgender, DiFrancesco moved from New York City to the Midwest. Psychopomps follows them on the search for family, marriage, relationships wit ...more
Paperback, 149 pages
Published February 15th 2019 by Civil Coping Mechanisms
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Average rating 4.50  · 
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 ·  60 ratings  ·  14 reviews


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Lori
In Psychopomps, Alex swings wide the doors, letting the reader crawl deep down inside, sharing with us their confusion, frustrations, losses, and ultimate relief as they move along their journey to self discovery.

An impressively powerful collection of essays on gender exploration and identity, finding and losing and rediscovering religion, and the always problematic quest for love and understanding as one is still learning to love and understand themselves. And it's courageous as all fuck if yo
...more
Alex
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I tried reading an essay once a day so I could sort of digest everything that Alex was saying, but their writing is incredibly hard-hitting, every sentence a gut punch in its execution that I had to keep reading, to peer more into the world that they were opening up for me, to learn. Alex's writing is revelatory, powerfully heartbreaking, and important. This book should be spread to every corner, if possible.
Becky
Mar 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Psychopomps by Alex DiFrancesco is a deeply personal and profound collection of essays. DiFrancesco writes thoughtfully about being trans, their family, found community, spirituality, and mental illness. I’m struck especially by the deftness with which they explore their feelings of disappointment in the state of the world, threaded with persistent (even when small) hope for a better future. I also loved the way they often observe and illuminate these kinds of real life symbolism, like the way t ...more
g
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a harrowing book, a book that is so small and wanders so far. It is like a Patti Smith book, caught in an elliptical pattern, at times elegy and at times mystery. It is clawing and hopeful and fearful and a possessed work. It is the kind of book someone gives and it stays and stays and lets you stray and makes you think about how the world works. Does it work? Where does it work? And can you take hold of new ways? The final essay is a gut-punch and a work of prowess. The whole collection ...more
Brandon Stanwyck
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Psychopomps breaks you open, then as soon as that wounded spot has healed—stronger now than it was before—it breaks you open again. As difficult as it may have been, DiFrancesco repeatedly lets us in, shining a fresh light on the various facets of their being. Each checkpoint along their gutsy journey offers a heartfelt reflection of what it means to be human in a world that may not always see you as worthy (when you are). Because DiFrancesco is smart, remarkable, and kind.
Bill Soldan
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Psychopomps is a powerful, unflinching collection that cuts with an arsenal of emotional blades. DiFrancesco is that rare writer that navigates between tones so gracefully that they can make you laugh while breaking your heart. The sharp prose and deft manner with which they move through time and space, guiding us, teaching us but holding us accountable for what we learn, makes these essays both artfully rendered and compulsively readable.

It takes a lot for a book to make me cry, but DiFrancesco
...more
Jacques Boudreau
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous book. DiFrancesco writes with graceful, I want to say peaceful prose. That’s not to say slow (I read it in two sittings because I couldn’t put it down) or distant (you feel every low moment and fear right along with DiFrancesco). But every word is precise, and it doesn’t feel like you could add or take away anything without upsetting the balance. Really, it’s a beautiful work, that I look forward to rereading soon.
Jennifer
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An arresting meditation on identity, community, and loss, this book explores the pains and pleasures of the author's transmasc existence and the heartache of being human in a broken world. The voice, intimate yet restrained, is like a whispered secret. One of the best memoirs I've read.
Ellis Light
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved, loved, loved this book. It truly embodies the Leonard Cohen quote: "There's a crack in everything / that's how the light gets in." Some of the essays are heartbreaking and painful, but there is also so much joy here, especially the joy of queer/trans community and discovering who you are.
Frank Karioris
May 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Well written to the extreme, the book is hard to take. For all the pain, all the issues; all the complications and complexities that are announcements that simple answers or accusations or resolutions are not how most life works.
Alan Good
Sep 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I would normally never think about reading a book of personal essays, but I made an exception for Psychopomps and I'm glad I did. The last essay really blew me away; it's such a beautiful tribute to a man who otherwise wouldn't be remembered. Get this book.
Baileigh Limestahl
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book and I love Alex’s writing. They write in a way that is jarring and simple but so effective and so filled with feeling and emotion. They do not give too much, but just enough for you to understand.
Layla A
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very honest look into the queer and trans families we build. It’s messy and sad and beautiful and it all makes me want to cry. After I finished it I kept saying to myself “for Bobby, with love”
Akiva
Am I a sucker for trans memoir? Oh hell yes. But most of them aren't this good.
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ALEX DIFRANCESCO is a writer of fiction and nonfiction whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, Tin House, Brevity, and more. They are a 2017 winner of Sundress Academy for the Arts' OutSpoken Competition, and were a finalist in Cosmonauts Avenue’s Inaugural Nonfiction Prize. They have recently moved to Ohio, where they are still trying to wrap their head around “Sweetest Day.”

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Lori Hettler is the founder and moderator of The Next Best Book Club, one of the most popular groups on Goodreads, and has been a reader and revie...
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