Cover image for Herma
Harris, MacDonald, 1921-1993.
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Atheneum, 1981.
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Central Library FICTION Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Booklist Review

Using the pseudonym MacDonald Harris for his fiction, Donald Heiney (1921-93) was a sailor and an academic as well as a prolific and imaginative writer. This is a reprint of a novel originally published in 1981. Set in the first decades of the twentieth century, Harris' teeming novel explores the porous boundaries of gender identity. Herma, born with a rare vocal gift, discovers another talent when she reaches adolescence; she is able to turn herself into a boy, Fred Hite. This transformation is about more than sex organs; Herma and Fred have separate and distinct personalities. Her passion is singing, his is flying, and as she pursues a career in opera, he acts as her business manager in order to ensure that there is enough money to support his love of flying machines. They go from Santa Ana, California, to San Francisco (where the 1906 earthquake puts an end to plans for Herma's Opera House debut) and then, finally, to Paris, rubbing shoulders with such historical figures as Enrico Caruso and Marcel Proust along the way. The density and discursiveness will not be to everyone's taste, but this inventive work will appeal to readers who are interested in the dual-gender theme. Opera lovers will also be intrigued.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2015 Booklist

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