“A Year Without a Name: A Memoir” by Cyrus Grace Dunham—Queerness, Family and Desire

Dunham, Cyrus Grace. “A Year Without a Name: A Memoir”, Little Brown, 2016.

Queerness, Family and Desire

Amos Lassen

Cyrus Grace Dunham in a “A Year Without a Name: A Memoir” brings us a  “passionate and clear-eyed and unputdownable” meditation on queerness, family, and desire.” We read that for as long as they can remember, Cyrus Grace Dunham felt like a visitor in their own body. Their life consisted of a series of imitations from a lovable little girl, daughter, sister to a young gay woman. But their profound sense of alienation became intolerable and thus, unlivable. They shifted between Grace and Cyrus Dunham.

 We are take inside gender transition and are witness to an uncertain process that troubles our most basic assumptions about who we are and how we are made. Dunham writes with emotional intensity in a voice that belongs to them and we get a powerful yet unresolved trans coming of age story. Here is a gender journey that is written with tenderness and passion and impossible to strop reading. It is a good idea to clear you day before beginning to read this memoir.

It is filled with brutal and unflinching honesty. This stunning account of both longing and belonging and is raw, beautiful and totally captivating. We share Dunham’s desire to be real. The prose is gorgeous and is eloquent and fresh. The narrative is powerful

and is “staggering, intimate, and astonishing”. I believe my mouth was agape the entire time I read the book and even though I have a trans nephew so much was new to me. This is a quick read yet every sentence is important.  We really see how confusing gender is and how useless it becomes when seeing it as an essential part of identity. It consists of only 176 pages and never comes to concrete conclusions. Dunham shows that like their book, all of us are unfinished as we grow and learn.

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