Gregg Bordowitz: Some Styles of Masculinity
Triple Canopy, 2021, Softcover, 230 pages, 18 × 11 cm
Some Styles of Masculinity is an intimate, urgent, and rollicking account of thinking and enduring through upheaval and plague. Prompted by the surge of white nationalism in the United States, Gregg Bordowitz reflects on his experience of assimilation and marginalization as a Yinglish-speaking child of outer-borough Jews and a queer person who has been living with AIDS since his twenties. He tells his own story by considering three totems of masculinity that were formative to him as he came of age in New York City in the 1970s and ’80s: the rock star, the rabbi, and the comedian. These figures taught Bordowitz how to balance reinvention and tradition, and how to be different even as difference is under assault.
In establishing his own rebellious masculinity, Bordowitz embraces outcasts, outsiders, queers, perverts, addicts, and other agents of chaos. Some Styles of Masculinity is adapted from a series of improvised monologues, and the book maintains the freewheeling style, casual erudition, and extraordinary range of Bordowitz’s performances: he fashions himself after Lenny Bruce and Lou Reed, scrutinizes the role of race in Seinfeld and klezmer, skewers Trump-era late-night routines and Hollywood AIDS stories, listens to punk anthems and quotes theology. He merges personal and political history, ribald humor and social criticism, performer and persona. Ultimately, he contends with the strictures of nationality and wages of whiteness, which prompt him to make the case for inhabiting many identities and speaking with many voices.