By Nisi Shawl
The Seattle Review of Books
Latest in Terry Bisson’s audacious Outspoken Authors series, The Beatrix Gates (PM Press) showcases three Rachel Pollack stories and one essay she wrote exclusively for this book, plus a playful yet revealing interview. Way back in 1971 Pollack “transitioned” (a word she notes didn’t exist at the time) to public acknowledgement of her female identity. With firm grace and poetic candor she confronts changes in language, the ungraspableness of life’s divinity, and the aching hunger we all feel to receive the twin blessings of comprehension and acceptance.
Though slim, this is an expansive volume, a collection of stories burning to be told, yearning beautifully to be read. The mythic straightforwardness of “The Woman Who Didn’t Come Back” and “Burning Beard” perfectly set off the meta-leveled delicacy of the title story, the cult classic “The Beatrix Gates,” which contains a confessional, a fairytale, and a quantum-based far-future extrapolation of the science of self-transformation. Pollack’s comics and tarot-related writings aren’t included in this book, but they’re alluded to in the interview and listed in Bisson’s Pollack bibliography. All serve to illustrate how far the author has traveled and how far she’s willing to help us go.