Saturday, July 11, 2009

Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes, by Gerald N. Callahan

  • Book information
  • Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the myth of two sexes by Gerald N. Callahan
  • Published by: Chicago Review Press

Much of Callahan's book is spent exploring our understanding of intersexuality, from the physicians of ancient Greece to today's neuroendocrinologists. He also weaves in the stories of people who live in the stretch between the classic male and female endpoints. "Truthfully, I think the most important thing I would like people to understand about me is that I am a person," Kailana, who is hermaphrodite, tells him in a diatribe of anger, grief and courage.

Callahan, an associate professor of immunology and the public understanding of science at Colorado State University, is an accomplished and versatile writer. His work has appeared in everything from Nature to the Southern Poetry Review. As a result, the book has an appealingly literary flair, even in the descriptions of complicated biology. Sometimes it verges on purple prose, as when he describes Los Angeles as a place of "limp palm trees curdling in the oily light", but for the most part the language is nicely polished.

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