The Book of Dolores

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The Book of Dolores is a book of photographs and paintings exploring femininity written by William T. Vollmann and published in 2013. Vollman began seriously cross-dressing in 2008 and developed a female alter ego named Dolores. “'Dolores is a relatively young woman trapped in this fat, aging male body,' Mr. Vollmann said. 'I’ve bought her a bunch of clothes, but she’s not grateful. She would like to get rid of me if she could.'”[1]

Vollmann is a heterosexual, married and a father. He describes the transformation as a vision quest to get into the mind of a female character he was writing, but also has mentioned liking the feel of women's clothes. His experimentations in cross-dressing started in the late 1980s, while living in San Francisco and writing Seven Dreams, about the settlement of North America. He was particularly interested in an Inuit myth about a brother transforming into a woman. Later he wrote about cross-dresser clubs in Japan. "'I had always imagined femininity as what you’re born with, what’s between your legs,' he said, 'And then I realized: no, it’s a performance. It’s about how you move, all the things you do to get ready.'"[2]

Criticism[edit]

Stephen Burt, reviewing the work in the New Yorker, has said that Vollman is more confident about the photographic process in the work than the things that go into performing femininity. "What if he had treated the arts of femininity with the same attention he gives to the arts of photography? Maybe he did, but his prose does not reflect it: instead, he comes off, by the end, as an anxious mansplainer, uneasy about the feminine subject he has chosen."[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Heyman, Stephen (2013-11-13). "William T. Vollmann: The Self Images of a Cross-Dresser". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  2. ^ Heyman, Stephen (2013-11-13). "William T. Vollmann: The Self Images of a Cross-Dresser". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2016-03-05.
  3. ^ Burt, Stephen (2014-01-20). "Mansplaining Cross-dressing". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2016-03-05.