On a visit to New York, the brother of well-known film critic Molly Haskell dropped a bombshell: Nearing sixty, married with children, Chevey revealed he was transsexual and would begin to live openly as a woman. Despite her longstanding liberal views, Haskell was dumbfounded.
In My Brother My Sister: Story of a Transformation, she recounts the steps in Chevey’s transition, while candidly exploring her own emotional journey, from shock and bewilderment after the initial announcement to a place of acceptance, empathy, and love for her sister Ellen. Throughout the book Haskell turns her critic’s eye on herself, but also broadens her lens to include psychoanalytical and scientific research, meditations on sexual anomalies in art and mythology as well as previously published memoirs such as Jan Morris’s classic Conundrum.
This is a memoir that pulls no punches in its exploration of a controversial, delicate subject. Through Chevey’s transformation into Ellen, Haskell has produced a cultural map of not only her sister’s experience, but of gender roles and transsexualism in a world increasingly governed by notions of individual identity. My Brother My Sister is tender, honest, informed, and at times a humorous must-read for anyone who has ever struggled to discover who they really are.
Read praise for the book by Kirkus, James Wolcott for Vanity Fair, and Liz Smith for Huffington Post
Read Molly Haskell in interview with Deborah Kalb and CNN.com
Listen to Molly Haskell on The Leonard Lopate Show:
BARNES & NOBLE
BOOKS A MILLION
MOLLY HASKELL, author and critic, grew up in Richmond, Va., went to Sweet Briar College, the University of London and the Sorbonne before settling in New York. She worked at the French Film Office in the Sixties, writing a newsletter about French films for the New York press and interpreting when directors came to America (this was the height of the Nouvelle Vague) for the opening of their films. She then went to The Village Voice, first as a theater critic, then as a movie reviewer; and from there to New York Magazine and Vogue.
She has written for many publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian UK, Esquire, The Nation, Town and Country, The New York Observer and The New York Review of Books. She has served as Artistic Director of the Sarasota French Film Festival, on the selection committee of the New York Film Festival, as associate Professor of Film at Barnard and as Adjunct Professor of Film at Columbia University. She won a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2010 and was featured in the Library of America's 2006 "American Movie Critics" edited by Philip Lopate.
She was married for 43 years to the film critic Andrew Sarris who died in 2012. Her books include From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies (1973; revised and reissued in 1989); a memoir, Love and Other Infectious Diseases; and, in 1997, a collection of essays and interviews, Holding My Own in No Man's Land: Women and Men and Films and Feminists; and Frankly My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, which was part of Yale University Press's American Icon series.