Paul Takes the Form of A Mortal Girl

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 17 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

So original and such a wonderful story of self-discovery. This is a book I want to come back to time and time again.
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Andrea Lawlor has produced something seriously good here, I'd love to read more by this author. 

I loved the use of language, meandering story and characters in 'Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl'. It's plot is hugely entertaining and interesting, but the book also offers so much more. 

This novel is speculative, shape-shifting fiction, yet the author has crafted a beautifully fleshed out sense of particular place and time which stands in and of it's self as a highly intelligent, detailed study. 

Here we are treated to a marvellous scope of LGBTQ+ culture and 90s pop culture in various parts of the US, (including San Francisco and New York); with gender, sexuality, identity, purpose and direction all explored with young adults growing, changing and coming into their own within a community ravaged by AIDS. 

Some parts are funny, some thought provoking, some touching and emotional. It's a wild ride, including a myriad colourful characters and relationships, with a vast array of varied and detailed sexual encounters, as Paul/Polly samples many groups of friends, varied 'scenes' and an array of selves. I honestly loved every minute of it - and all the 90s references had the added bonus of giving me a rush of nostalgia and a push to unearth some old books to reread!

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author for a free digital copy of this novel in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
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Prepare yourself for one of the most unique takes on gender roles and sexual politics to date.  While the book is set in the '90's, and doesn't benefit from the great strides forward in the last 30 years for the trans community in the sense of visibility, it does benefit from taking from the past, whether that's Dennis Cooper, Eileen Myles or Virginia Woolf.  What's amazing about this novel is how captivating and readable the premise is.  The detail of alt culture is spot on, there are 2 oblique references to "Drugstore Cowboy' ,the film by Gus van Sant, that thrilled me in a way I wasn't expecting.  It manages to be strident and ethereal in turn and has some of the hottest sex scenes I've ever read!  One to re-read and recommend.
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Preorder it, buy it, borrow it, reserve it at the library - this is going to be a huge, cult read and you don't want to miss out. 5 firm stars from me!
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Loved this fantastic and unusual novel. A riotous adventure through 90s queer subculture alongside shape-shifting protagonist Paul/Polly and his/her many lovers and friends. Lawlor is a really exciting new voice in fiction and I will be recommending this book far and wide.
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Somewhere between Chelsea Girls and Black Wave (as evidenced by the thank yous to Michele Tea and Eileen Myles in the back) this is sweet and fun and filthy. It has lots to say about bodies as well as queer space, and it's impossible not to love Paul and he twists and turns and occasionally self-destructs.
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Loved it ,loved it, loved it.
It is a refreshing read that deals with a wide range of topics and emotions. The author Andrea Lawlor has manage to pack so much into this book without losing the integrity of the story/plot.
LGBT culture, pop culture, music, own identity.
There are additional stories within the book- which slides into the book so beautifully.
Thank you to both NetGalley and Pan Macmillan for my eARC of this book in exchange for my honest unbiased review
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Paul takes the form of a mortal girl is a sharp and fun novel about 90s identity politics and LGBT culture. Paul Polydoris is a bartender at a gay bar in an Iowa university town, but he has a secret: he can shapeshift. As the narrative moves from Iowa to Michigan to Provincetown to San Francisco, Paul finds music, excitement, struggle, and intimacy, but what is key to keep that freedom to transform.

The novel digs deep into Paul's emotions and connections with other people, but also stays witty and observational. It doesn't so much have a narrative as it is a picaresque that follows Paul's existence and journeying, bartender to bookseller, body transforming and style changing. Short inset stories feel like myths and the book has a slightly mythic feel, but ultimately the shapeshifting feels very real, just a fact of life. Lawlor fills the novel with music and pop culture, so that it almost feels like it has a soundtrack as you read it. There's a lot that different people could take and interpret from it personally, about histories, identities, love, narrative, and a whole lot more.

Paul takes the form of a mortal girl has a carefully created and specific time setting and really creates a sense of place wherever Paul is. It also is a kind of timeless novel, which embraces transformation in a way that is exciting and riotous.
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