The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You

The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You

Bear Bergman's Butch Is A Noun has become a classic of sorts for sharing ground-breaking conversation coupled with a detailed storytelling style that makes the book extremely readable. The follow up to Butch Is A Noun, the Nearest Exit May Be Behind You is equally readable and enjoyable and continues some of the important conversations about gender, identity, and understanding started in Butch Is a Noun.For example, in one chapter, entitled It's Always Easier If You Can Be Something They Recognize, Bergman shares the story of trying to help a friend through a job interview process by helping him become essentially “Something They Recognize.” Bergman observes “counting on racism to interupt gender policing. Whee. And now if you'll excuse me I have to get to Fedex by five so I can put this paperwork in the mail to the Devil.” he later adds “I go about here and there [talking about the ridiculousness of the rigid gender binary] and people almost believe me...until they go outside and take a look around.” It could be a depressing observation in someone else's hands, but Bergman is able to make more of it, tell a tale that can invite us to learn a lesson.

Other chapters include his observations of people's reaction to his name, intrusive questions strangers ask, his relationship with his family and the art of and importance of helping strangers. Bergman explains why he stopped to help a family with a broken down car on a Wisconsin highway “ [as queer and Jews] we've been on the shit side of I'm Sure Someone Will Do.” This typifies one of the book's incredible appeals: it becomes collective, rather than individual memoir.