For fans of Jennifer Finney Boylan’s She’s Not There and Thomas Page McBee, FRIGHTEN THE HORSES is a textured and sharply written queer memoir about coming of age in the fourth decade of one’s life and embracing one’s truest self in a world that wants to fit everyone in neat boxes.
FRIGHTEN THE HORSES
by Oliver Radclyffe
Roxane Gay Books/Grove Atlantic, September 2024
From the outside, Oliver Radclyffe spent four decades living an immensely privileged, beautifully composed life. As the daughter of two well-to-do British parents and the wife of a handsome, successful man from an equally privileged family, Oliver played the parts expected of him. He checked off every box—marriage, children (four), a white-picket fence surrounding a stately home in Connecticut, and a golden retriever named Biscuit.
But beneath the shiny veneer, Oliver was desperately trying to stay afloat as he struggled to maintain a façade of normalcy—his hair was falling out in large clumps, he couldn’t eat, and his mood swings often brought him to tears. And then, on an otherwise unremarkable afternoon in September, Oliver Radclyffe woke up and realized the life of a trapped housewife was not one he was ever meant to live. In fact, Oliver had spent his entire life denying the deepest, truest parts of himself. In the wake of this realization, he began the challenging, messy journey toward self-acceptance and living a truer life, knowing he risked the life he’d built to do so.
The journey is fraught, as Oliver navigated leaving a marriage and reintroducing himself to his children. And despite the challenges he faced, Oliver realizes there was no way for him to go back to the beautiful lie of his previous life. Not if he wanted to survive. FRIGHTEN THE HORSES is a trans man’s coming of age story, about a housewife who comes out as lesbian and tentatively, at first, steps into the world of queerness. With growing courage and the support of his newfound community, Oliver is finally able to face the question of his gender identity and become the man he is supposed to be. The story of a flawed, fascinating, gorgeously queer man, FRIGHTEN THE HORSES introduces Oliver Radclyffe as a witty, arresting, unforgettable voice.
Oliver Radclyffe is part of the new wave of transgender writers unafraid to address the complex nuances of transition, examining the places where gender identity, sexual orientation, feminist allegiance, social class, and family history overlap. His work has appeared in The New York Times and Electric Literature, and he has a book of essays due for publication in October 2023 with Unbound Edition Press. He currently lives on the Connecticut coast, where he is raising his four children.