Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl by Andrea Lawlor

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, Women’s Studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa C...

Details Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

TitlePaul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
Release DateNov 1st, 2017
PublisherRescue Press
GenreFiction, Lgbt, Glbt, Queer, Fantasy, Novels

Reviews Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl

  • Cathy
    I loved, loved, loved this novel. A nostalgic trip back to the queer 90s wrapped up in a speculative temporal-space odyssey that inspires a meditation on gender, sex, identity, home, atmosphere, place, and love. Because what else is there?I got to read the manuscript and can't wait to read it once it's published in November!
  • M.
    I wrote this as an introduction to Andrea's reading for the NYC book launch at Bureau of General Services--Queer Division, November 2017: I first met Paul – the novel’s protagonist – in Philadelphia in 2005 or 2006, in one of my first workshops in Temple’s graduate creative writing program. It was a short story at that time and though, as a young still-presumably-straight person there was much I didn’t yet understand about the live quee...
  • Rhode
    Holy shit. I read this in one giant gulp. Partway through a friend dropped by unexpectedly, and there I was standing in the hallway unable to speak coherently. She took one look at me and said, “whatever that book is, go back to it. It’s ok. I’ll see you later.” So I lay back down on the sofa, day turned to night and I did not do anything else until I’d finished it. The funny thing is, it was one of those books where you’re unwillingl...
  • Tim Jones-Yelvington
    w/ its body shifting protagonist, most folks will likely interpret this through the lens of the malleability of gender, sex and identity. But I found myself thinking just as much if not moreso about queer lives/chronologies/trajectories/biographies as circuitous/interrupted/episodic, about the picaresque—with its rejection of heteronormative hero recognition, maturation and epiphany—as a queer form, and about my own affinity for Paul's compul...
  • Alvin
    Every page of this PTTFOAMG sparkles with sly, clever wit and sharp insights, both sociological and psychological. The novel is delightfully free of the tediously tidy character arcs or contrived plot complications so common to middlebrow fiction these days; instead, readers are treated to an amusingly rakish protagonist's meandering adventures. In other words, it's a true picaresque. And speaking of the protag, Paul, the promo for the novel high...
  • Rob
    Usually books that meander and don't have a strong plot drive me crazy, but in this book it completely worked. It was super atmospheric, slice of life, and weird - kind of like a book version of a Sophia Coppola movie. I loved Paul as a character, loved the window the book gives into 90's queer culture, loved the way it makes you think about gender & sexuality & relationships. It took me a lot longer to get through than a book of this length typi...
  • Ocean
    wow i really loved this! i like how i've read not one but TWO books this month that encapsulated the weird magical way i spent my queer youth, a way of life that seems so completely gone forever, but still exists in new forms. i felt like my friends and i had really created something unique--and maybe we did--but it's comforting to know that it was large enough that a fictional book written about someone a decade older than me rang so many bells....
  • Samantha
    this is by the friend of a friend. very interesting novel. I love the title. the narrator is a young gay man who can change his body - from male to female, as well as changing his appearance in various other ways. that actually is incidental to the plot, mostly, in a way that makes it seem almost allegorical. you basically spend a lot of time with paul (sometimes polly) in the early 90s. it's not a coming of age novel, in that he already has a pa...
  • Kate.
    "She knew she camped it up around Paul, and wondered if he camped it up around her, if they were anxious collaborators in a consolidation of something supposedly shared rather than actual friends. She wondered if anyone had any real friends, when it came to that. How could straight people, for instance, have real friends when their entire lives were an inhabitation of a myth? She felt better, as she always did when she brought herself around to a...
  • James
    This was fun. Especially if you actually remember and liked the 1990s. Especially the gay 90s. Also, it's a clever way to write about some of the differences between gay men and lesbians.
  • Kristen
    This book is AN EXPERIENCE. Just the queer read I needed to start the year. You can see a lot of biases in Paul/Polly and I think that's what makes this such an honest (while often times over the top) book.
  • Nicholas Kaufmann
    Funny, insightful, and often quite charming, Andrea Lawlor's PAUL TAKES THE FORM OF A MORTAL GIRL comes as a pleasant surprise. The novel follows the life of twenty-two year old queer shapeshifter Paul, who can change his shape from male to female and back again at will. It's a clever and effective allegory for trans and non-binary experiences, but it also works very well as a character trait. Paul, like many twenty-somethings, is full of outward...
  • Bert Zee
    Today I finished reading ‘Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl’ by Andrea Lawlor, and I am in complete awe of just how amazing it is. I’ve read my share of queer fiction, some bad, some good, but none at all like this. It’s a great reminder of just how big books can be. If Dennis Cooper, Todd Haynes, Bruce LaBruce and Poppy Z. Brite had a massive orgy the remnants of said orgy would be this book. Part smut, part celebration, part manifest...
  • Sian Lile-Pastore
    As a rule I'm here for queer fiction set in nineties San Francisco/New York, and there was much I liked about this - some great writing, sometimes funny, sometimes tragedies cutting through the slightness of it. It also has lots about books, working in a bookshop, poetry, finding your way, coming of age etc etc. As well as this though Paul can shape shift - so he can make himself look older/younger/have a bigger cock etc etc he can also change in...
  • Sarah Jean Grimm
    What a dopamine rush of a novel. My only complaint is that I never wanted my time with Paul to end. There’s so much tenderness and tenacity in these pages.
  • Chris Basso
    While Paul Takes The Form of a Mortal Girl is an engrossing read, it doesn't delve as deeply into gender identity as it maybe thinks it does. Although set in the 90's, Paul could just as easily be a modern-day millennial as he/she/they navigate the streets of Iowa City, Chicago, and San Francisco, aimless save for an insatiable libido. The unapologetic and graphic sexuality is commendable especially in a genre that tends to- more often than not- ...
  • Aaron
    Disclaimer: this review from the perspective of a cis-het-white dude who was still playing with ninja turtles in the early 90s. The story of a college-aged kid acting like a college-aged kid in the mid-90's. There's also the fun magical-realism wrinkle of him being able to change his physical appearance/gender/sex with some concentration. While in most books I read, that would be a major focus of the plot (and let's be real: was a good part of th...
  • Nick
    This adventurous picaresque novel stars Paul a literal shape-shifter, who navigates the inhabitants the 90's queer demi-mondes of Iowa City, Provincetown, and San Francisco (with side trips to Manhattan, Chicago, and the Michigan Women's Festival) in search of lust, love, and connection. Paul, who remains 'he' even as he magically transforms his primary and secondary sexual characteristics and organs, along with his identity. At one point he's a ...
  • Claire Greising
    I work around the corner from my favorite bookshop, so I make a point to read 50 pages from a new book every day as a way to unwind. The shop put Andrea Lawlor's "Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl" on their Recommended table. I saw that Eileen Myles had written one of the blurbs on the back, so I gave it a whirl. Soon, I'd read not only 50 pages, but 100. I kept reading as I purchased the book from the checker, rode the subway, and walked to m...
  • Chase
    Andrea Lawlor's novel, Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, is an extraordinary re-imagining of queer life in the 1990s. Paul is a semi-androgynous shapeshifter who uses his powers to explore the realms of sexual desire, intimacy, self-discovery, and history. From sleepy Iowa City to tempestuous San Francisco, Paul discovers, perhaps without full truth, the reality of his body/ies, his changing desires across genders, and the stratosphere of hea...
  • Katie
    This book came to me as a gift, with an enthusiastic recommendation by my friend, a friend of the authors. She said it was nostalgic with a lot of very queer sex. She was right! Paul is a shapeshifter who can change his gender at will, and will change to suit the mood of whatever conquest he as his eyes on at the moment. He also makes zines, hangs out a punk shows, and generally likes to investigate the queer music scene of Iowa City in the 90s. ...
  • Steve
    This was a book club read, about a promiscuous college boy who can turn into a girl at will. In the 90s, Paul meets a lesbian, falls in love and moves to Provincetown. After a sudden breakup he moves to San Francisco. This is an amateurish, superficial book whose messages about gender and identity are buried under tons of pointless references to movies and music and interminable descriptions of clothes and bars. Its most imaginative feature, the ...
  • Caroline
    A book that uses River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho to describe its main character in the first chapter was obviously written for me. Paul reminds me of other 90s-set lit I've read: JT Leroy with a Gender Studies degree and without the spectacle of trauma; The Orange Eats Creeps but less gutter punk and more lucid.There's a lot of pop culture references and skating around theory that might only appeal to a specific audience, but since I'm in t...
  • P.
    Physically, this book is a pleasure to hold, with velvety covers and an almost square aspect. At first I thought it was going to be strictly a book about being sexy, there's nothing wrong with that, but it's not always what I'm looking for. Instead it's a voyage of self-discovery and -assurance in outsiderness. It's funny and real as well as being sexy, and being real about when things aren't sexy. Paul does careless, unlikeable things, but he's ...
  • Emily Carlin
    Fun read. My fave part of this book is when Paul makes his crush a mix. It was fun to think back on when making a mix for someone meant creating a physical object (in this case, a tape). Do young ppl make each other Spotify playlists or something now? What if you use Spotify and your crush uses Apple Music? But anyway, one of the songs on the tape that Paul makes is, “I’m Lucky” by Joan Armatrading, which I’ve since become obsessed with. ...
  • wilde (jessica)
    [4.5/5] Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl straddles the lines between pure punk indie lit and clever young adult fantasy while steeping itself in 90s nostalgia, mixtapes, and glittery, combat-booted goodness. It's a shapeshifting meditation on gender and queerness, too, one that allows itself to be thoroughly, OTT debauched even as it steps back to read like a sort of Riot Grrl Orlando.
  • Kelly H.
    I would give this book 3.5 starsIt was interesting and well written. The main character was at times annoying and other times endearing. The book was a bit graphic at times. I feel like I would have enjoyed this book with the help of a literature professor to discuss key points, themes and symbolism.
  • Veronica
    Read for work. Not to my personal taste (too literary, and I was a little kid in the ‘90s so I’m not nostalgic about the adult cultural landscape that’s such a big part of the novel) but certainly an interesting book. I haven’t read Orlando, but it felt like a book I could recommend to people who loved Orlando if that makes sense.
  • Ric
    An odd, original tale of a shallow young gay man in the mid 90's who can also turn himself into a woman when he wants to. Tries to say a lot about gay culture at the time from the perspective of both sexes and doesn't quite succeed but it's never less than interesting and at times very humorous and smart.