Love and Money, Sex and Death
A transgender woman reflects on her late transition and coming out, trans politics and culture, motherhood and memory, in this provocative epistolary memoir for readers of Olivia Laing’s Everybody
A breathtaking memoir of transition, history, art, and memory
After a successful career, a twenty-year marriage, and two kids, McKenzie Wark has an acute midlife crisis: coming out as a trans woman. Changing both social role and bodily form recasts her relation to the world. Transition changes what, and how, she remembers. She makes fresh sense of her past and of history by writing to key figures in her life about the big themes that haunt us all—love and money, sex and death.
In letters to her childhood self, her mother, sister, and past lovers, she writes a backstory that enables her to live in the present. The letters expand to address trans sisters lost and found, as well as Cybele, ancient goddess of trans women. She engages with the political, the aesthetic, and the numinous dimensions of trans life and how they refract her sense of who she is, who she has been, who she can still become. She confronts difficult memories that connect her mother’s early death to her compulsion to write, her communist convictions, her coming to New York, the bittersweet reality of her late transition, and the joy to be found in Brooklyn’s trans and raver communities.
Praise for Love and Money, Sex and Death
"Seeing the world unfold from the perspective of a self is easier than seeing that self as a particular folding-up of the world. MacKenzie Wark's special genius, in this wild ride across the late twentieth century and its aftermath, is to offer both perspectives at once, shimmying and shaking between the two with gleeful and brilliant abandon."
—Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History
"McKenzie Wark's account of her life to this point fuses friendship and history, love and ideas. Radically honest and beautifully light, her memoir offers brilliant and challenging ways of understanding how fluidly gender is actually lived by those who dare. Like all of her work, it's really a personal manifesto. I was inspired and energized reading this book."
—Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick
"A capacious offering to transfeminine truth-witty and wild, soft and scathing, broken-hearted and open-hearted. Moving toward the future by excavating the past, Wark makes space for complexity, innovation, self- determination, and communal possibility in "the sparkle of one's difference.""
—Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, author of The Freezer Door
"In writing letters to former selves, mothers, lovers and others McKenzie Wark has captured life lived in and as transformation with rigour and poetry. From an oppressive but formative 1960s Australian childhood, to the physical and intellectual expansiveness of New York City in the 21st century, Wark witnesses her beginnings and endings, her coming and unbecoming. She is bracing, sharp, argumentative and tender all at once"
—Sophie Cunningham, author of The Devastating Fever
"A sharp epistolary memoir about gender, family, disability, and age...Wark's analysis of gender, sexuality, and queerness is both ebullient and trenchant."
"Sad and tender and sassy and smart. A love letter to life and transition, to the endless possibilities of the body and the mind, to love itself."
—Fiona Kelly McGregor, author of Iris
"Wark is one of the only scholars to take young people seriously-not as a spectacle or site of extraction, but as friends to learn from and hang out with. This lack of judgment, which radiates, not just through the book, but through the author herself, is what is so winning in the end. I am grateful for Love and Money, Sex and Death, and I'm grateful for McKenzie, too."
—Charlie Markbreiter, The New Inquiry
"This memoir plumbs erasures in Wark's personal experiences in order to understand her personal formation outside of the 'born this way' narrative...there's something refreshing, even relieving, about the book's lack of a neat, packaged gender narrative. Love and Money, Sex and Death is a memoir that seeks understanding around a personal formation; it extends that spacious anarchy for others to play in too."
"[This] memoir is an attempt to make sense of the edited self and the person who we once were. A portrait of selfhood under construction."
—Isle McElroy, 24 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Fall, Vulture
"Wark revisits and reexamines her past by writing letters to major figures in her life in her new memoir and a stunning look at transition, history, art, and memory."
—September 2023's Must Read Books, Nylon
"[Love and Money, Sex and Death] outright embodies not just the communal, but the femmunal, the sprawling network of weirdo-others that make the self."
—Anahi Molina, Guernica
"Wark's work is always worth checking out, and this new book looks to be an especially essential part of her bibliography."
—Vol. 1 Brooklyn
"Wark's poetic and direct language crafts an unusually moving text that draws on art, popular culture, and mythology. The result is an introspective narrative that both tells an individual's story and conveys essential insights into gender and queerness, family, friends, and change."
—Natalie Haddad, Hyperallergic
"In glimpses that are both emotionally and intellectually breathtaking, [Wark] recalls her coming-of-age in Newcastle, Australia, in the 1960s and '70s; her career as a poet; her marriage and grief; parenthood; her various lovers and her transition, in her 50s."
—Melissa Bond, The New York Times Book Review
"[Wark] turns the idea of a traditional, linear memoir on its head, using hindsight as a tool to reapproach, and in some cases recover, past relationships."
—Allison Armijo, The Gay & Lesbian Review
"McKenzie Wark is one of the sharpest, most exciting voices writing at the intersections of capitalism, community, gender, and sex - more broadly, everything in this title - and she is also criminally underread."
—Arianna Rebolini, Best Memoirs of 2023, Vulture