The All of It: A bogan rhapsody (Cadance Bell, Viking)
Our lives are multiple, our stories of ourselves never-ending, and yet when it comes to being a transgender person, there is this idea that we have one sole identity: trans. In The All of It: A bogan rhapsody, Cadance Bell gives us multitudes; she’s not just a 30-something transwoman, she’s a true bogan Australian, raised on coal mines, Catholic guilt and greasy chips. Bell has an incredibly easy and visceral way of writing; it’s blunt and evocative but also satisfying and transportive, her descriptions of childhood oozing with vivid and haunting imagery. There is always humour interwoven with the bleak, grotesque and painful, and that style of punching through trauma with self-deprecating jokes is such a familiar and relatable part of the queer experience. This memoir is raw, vulnerable, authentic and full of heart. Bell doesn’t falter in her honesty, describing guilty wet dreams, stealing her mother’s bras, furtively buying teen girl magazines, and secretly dressing in femme clothing while tripping on LSD. Bell beautifully paints the anguish of a budding transwoman tormented by gender dysphoria, self-loathing and shame, finally blossoming into the gender euphoria that is to exist authentically as herself. Both tragic and uplifting, The All of It provides readers with a small insight into one bogan Australian’s trans experience, for fellow adult trans people and allies alike.
George Banach-Salas is a former bookseller, currently writing and teaching in Tāmaki Makaurau.