Quona's Karma | Letters | Chicago Reader

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Quona's Karma


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I read, reread, studied, and outlined your novella on Quona the cross-dresser [May 20], searching in vain for the article's message. It was like looking for something likable in John Starks's "just-fouled-out" mug.

If the intended message was: here was a kid who had courage despite being "marginalized" and crammed into confining cultural subcategories, I think you kicked the traditional notion of "courage" in the teeth.

There are plenty of folks in this city who plug along despite being strange and different and impaired for a mind-numbing jumble of reasons. What set Quona apart, apparently, was that he trashed friendships, stole from those who helped him, and assaulted strangers on the el.

Sure, Quona was different. But he also made some independent decisions. Like stealing credit cards. When caught, Quona, or "wise old man," in Liberia, decided to mace the cops. Quona also decided to "turn dates" for money. Sounds safe. Quona also decided that the Melrose was the place to remove his corset and yell about having a dick in his throat. Charming.

Perhaps Quona could attribute his decision-making ability to his mother. Here's a gal who has three children, and when her youngest child proves himself to be the paradigmatic problem student, she moves in with a gentleman who calls Quona "bitch" and "fag." Quona is then faced with a two-hour ride to school, he bottoms out, and his mother decides to stay with her boyfriend over moving with Quona. Hmm. Now there's a story!

If you need to write about someone who shows strength in the face of adversity, don't write about a jerk. But is there really nothing else going on in the city?

G. Halverson

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