Norah Vincent is a freelance journalist by trade. In 2003, she took a leave from writing her nationally syndicated political opinion columns in order to write her New York Times bestselling book Self-Made Man, the story of a woman living, working, and dating--all while disguised as a man.
Shrewd, sympathetic, and courageous, Self-Made Man is one woman’s take on just how hard it is to be a man, even in a man’s world. With an ever-present five o’clock shadow, a crew cut, wire-rimmed glasses, and her own size 11½ shoes, Norah Vincent spent a year and a half as her male alter ego, Ned, and reported back what she observed incognito. Narrating her journey with exquisite insight, empathy, and humor, Norah ponders the many remarkable mysteries of gender identity as she explores firsthand who men really are when women aren’t around. As Ned, she joins a bowling team, takes a high-octane sales job, goes on dates with women (and men), visits strip clubs, and even manages to infiltrate a monastery and a men’s therapy group. Absolutely engrossing in its reporting and surprising in its analysis, Self-Made Man is a thrilling tour de force of immersion journalism.
“A thoughtful, entertaining piece of first-person investigative journalism. Though there’s plenty of humor in Self-Made Man, Vincent – like her spiritual forbear John Howard Griffin…- treats her self-imposed assignment seriously, not as a stunt….Self Made Man transcends its premise altogether, offering not an undercover woman’s take on male experience, but simply a fascinating, fly-on-the wall look at various unglamorous male milieus that are well off the radar of most journalists and book authors…So rich and so audacious…[I was] hooked from Page 1.”
--David Kamp, The New York Times Book Review
After Vincent's eighteen months living disguised as a man, she became severely depressed and felt she was a danger to herself. On the advice of her psychologist, she committed herself to a mental institution. Out of this raw and overwhelming experience came the idea for her second book, Voluntary Madness, where she decides to get healthy while studying the effects of treatment on the depressed and insane “in the bin,” as she calls it.
Vincent’s journey takes her from a big city hospital to a facility in the Midwest and finally to an upscale retreat in the American south, where she analyzes the impact of institutionalization on the unwell, the tyranny of drugs-as-treatment, and the dysfunctional dynamic between caregivers and patients. Vincent applies brilliant insight as she exposes her personal struggle with depression and explores the range of people and methodologies that guide these bizarre and often scary environments. Eye-opening, emotionally wrenching, and occasionally hilarious, Voluntary Madness is a riveting work that exposes the state of mental healthcare in America from the inside out. Her third book, Thy Neighbor, is forthcoming in 2012.
While syndicated, Norah Vincent was a weekly columnist for the Los Angeles Times and the author of a quarterly politics and culture column for the national gay and lesbian newsmagazine The Advocate.
Ms. Vincent wrote the "Higher Ed" column for The Village Voice from 1999-2001 and wrote a biweekly column for Salon.com in 2001. Her essays, columns, and reviews have also appeared in The New Republic, The New York Times, The New York Post, The Washington Post and many more periodicals around the country.
She holds a bachelor's degree in Philosophy from Williams College and resides in New York City.
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