I love describing this book almost as much as I loved reading it: after the dissolution of a decade-long romantic relationship with a dominatrix, Emerson Whitney embarked on a failed storm chasing tour. Interspersed with the account of this wacky road adventure are Whitney’s meditations on gender, love, family, and the physical and relational impacts of medical transition.
This elevator pitch might sound scattered, but Whitney’s approach makes it all come together in one of the best hybrid memoirs I have ever read. The way he writes about the connections between desire and identity is revelatory, as are his reflections on how the men in his life have shaped his own masculinity. His approach to queer theory and art is equally organic, expertly interwoven with the other elements of the text.
The prose is vivid, yet precise. It illuminates both Whitney’s emotional life and the landscapes he is traversing. The fragmentary structure, reminiscent of giants of the genre such as Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts, effectively contains the flow of thought and story, shaping it into a page-turning narrative. Despite the meditative character of the book, we want to travel along with Emerson and see this storm chasing trip to the end.
Daddy Boy is one of those rare books I hope everyone will give a chance. Strange and vulnerable, there is something beguiling and ultimately uplifting about Whitney’s writing, which will leave a lasting impact on those who dare engage with it on its own defiant terms.