Paralian

Paralian

Not Just Transgender

Non-Fiction - Autobiography
456 Pages
Reviewed on 11/17/2016
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Author Biography

Born in Germany, Liam is a world citizen of German-French-Italian descent. He is an incorrigible dreamer and romantic who also keeps both feet firmly planted on Planet Earth.

Liam collects life experiences and meaningful encounters with people around the world. He has traveled, lived, and worked in Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa, while making a living as a photographer, movie theater manager, English teacher, visual services artist, scuba diving instructor, hyperbaric chamber operator, show diver, theater coach, and production manager.

He currently lives in Zurich, Switzerland.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite

Paralian by Liam Klenk is a very long story. Too long? Only if you're an impatient reader. Liam Klenk has so much to share in this fascinating memoir that, despite its length, those readers with a thirst for knowledge and inquisitive, intelligent minds much like the author's will be utterly riveted. Even when you think you just can't read another page, you find yourself turning it to see what more can you learn from Paralian, a book with an unusual name and an intriguing subtitle: "Not just transgender."

You see, Paralian is not just about a female who transitions to male in her young adult years. While that's a key part to understanding the protagonist's restless disposition and endless search for self, that search takes Liam and readers into the heart and soul of countries in a way they are never depicted in travel brochures. Be prepared for a surprise, for instance, at what you might witness in a public park in Zurich in comparison to a park in North America.

The Paralian, born Stephanie and adopted by a neurotic mother and gay father, eventually locates her birth mother and a sister she didn't know she had, only to be rejected by both later. As a new male, he falls in love more than once, marries twice for convenience, once his father's and once his own. Gifted with a brilliant mind and a need to prove his worthiness mostly to himself, Liam embraces one challenge after another: he becomes a photographer, an artist, a theater and events co-ordinator, and much later, despite an innate fear of, but love for water, especially the ocean, he masters the sport of scuba diving. His travels take us around Germany, Switzerland, Malta, Macau, Hong Kong and the US. His observations and reflections on each country and culture, many very detailed, along with his struggles to understand himself as a transgendered person trying to fit into society, are what make Paralian such a long, often intensive read.

This is not a memoir for the squeamish. Details are raw, vivid, honest. Nor, as mentioned above, is it a read for the impatient or someone looking for quick entertainment. Paralian is for those who enjoy learning something new when they read and who like finding themselves still thinking about what they have read long after they finish the book. If that sounds like you, read Paralian by Liam Klenk.

Helen Lewis, LiterallyPR

We hear a lot about ‘finding yourself’ and ‘being authentic’ nowadays. I’m a firm believer in the idea of living and let live, but then I’ve never experienced even a fraction of what Liam has. The scenes describing his conception, which is crazy and tumultuous all in its own right, could be a film rather than words on a page – Liam writes with raw honesty and this is powerful. I won’t include a series of plot spoilers here but what I will write is that this book is more than ‘just a memoir’, it’s a window into a life that has been lived fully and packed with challenges including the discovery of his adoption a long time into his life, meeting his birth mother, his challenges with his parents, his gender identity leading to transition to become the man he always knew he was, to travelling the world. Why Paralian? Because Liam is naturally drawn to water – where he lives, where he works – there’s always a water connection. He’s travelled and worked in the most weird and wonderful places, he’s met some incredible people, and he’s endured personal, emotional and psychological challenges I can only begin to imagine personally, but I feel I’ve lived some of those moments with him through his book. Quite incredible. Very moving. Truly inspiring.

Nicole Depping

Paralian is from my point of view one of the must reads at the moment, also for people who are not or only remotely connected to the transgender scene (the transgender part is actually not such a big part of the book as I expected initially). The author tells the story of his life so far overcoming multiple astonishing odds and difficulties in his life with such optimism and good humor that it is truly inspiring. It kept me up reading until late into the night and I finished the book after only a few days of very intense reading. I couldn’t put it down and often went for ‘just one more chapter’ – which is very unusual reading a biography for me – a definite recommendation!

Lasse Andersson

A universal, vivid story about life and finding yourself that will appeal to readers of all ages. Moreover, I found Paralian to be a transgender story like no other, refreshingly positive, open-minded, and good-humoured.

Luke Marlowe, The Bookbag

Refreshing, enlightening, and a darn good read, Paralian covers difficult life situations with an optimism and grace that will surprise the coldest of readers, and as such is a read I can heartily recommend to all – I imagine, like me, you’ll come out of the book uplifted and positive by the read.

Moira O'Hagan

I have spent the last two weekends absolutely engrossed! Yours is a life of adventure, endurance, persistence, optimism, beauty, love and inspiration. These are the key messages that flow through, despite the very real challenges and difficulties that you have had to navigate, and I love that.

Liz Robinson, Lovereading

This is a fascinating and inspiring memoir from a man who has faced life head on and lived it to the full. Liam Klenk was adopted, had an unconventional childhood and as he became an adult, his differences made him search for answers. Klenk describes himself as being born into a female body, yet this memoir explores many other avenues, as the title says – this novel is ‘Not Just Transgender’. Klenk writes with a raw honesty, he has a matter of fact way of describing the adversity he has lived with, which makes the story even more intensely powerful. Klenk has become a strong, independent, thoughtful man, who is very self aware. ‘Paralian: Not Just Transgender’ gives you the chance to hear a captivating story, I marvelled at Klenk’s mental strength, willed him to overcome the difficulties he faced, and I appreciate very much indeed, that I’ve had the chance to read his story.

Nancy Durrenberger

It’s not just about transgender but also about finding the most important thing in our life: Who am I? Why am I here? A great book about finding the true inner self. Stories to laugh and stories to cry! A great mixture of love, hate, struggle, falling down, standing up and so on. You won’t be bored when you read this book and it will touch your heart. I can highly recommend this book to anyone!

Juliet

I loved Paralian; in fact I read it in record time, often suffering from the “just one more chapter” syndrome. Gripped by the author’s continued ability to stand in the face of adversity, I cried and laughed out loud a times. A book I have already have recommended to my friends. A truly amazing and inspirational true story.

Valerie Masse

What a story !… and beautifully written ( I highlighted many sentences to remember them, like quotes…). I couldnt put this book down. The kind of story that brings to you a wave of positive energy on life, adventure, challenges.

Jessica Baker

Paralian: Not Just Transgender follows the life of an adventurer with a deep soul, and I was captivated with this gorgeously told story. As others have said, I had trouble putting this book down and finished the whole thing in two marathon sessions of reading! Liam’s story is an incredible journey of a man’s journey to create and live a life that matches his inner self’s truest nature. It is touching, hilarious at times, infuriating at times, and above all – inspiring. Read it. You’ll be glad you did.

Taylor Swan

The most incredibly inspiring journey, artfully transcribed in the most beautiful fashion. I’ve just finished Liam’s magical ‘Paralian’ and wish I could instantly wipe my memory, just so I can relive every single word again. Liam’s writing has the incredible power to transport you in person, to every ‘scene’; and that is a very rare find in a writer. His obvious sense of adventure and motivation to experience as much of life as possible, and with passion! – is the perfect backdrop for a ‘great read’. The addition of his own challenges of being a transgender male, adds yet another layer of emotion and interest which draws you in even closer. This by proxy offers a sense of compassion and attachment, which I believe is the ultimate destination; for a reader to find that affinity with the main character. In this case, the very real Liam Klenk. I laughed and cried my way through each page and it left with me with such a grand admiration for this human. Thank you Liam for this very personal account of your exceptional life.

Jennifer

I was blown away by the utterly raw, open and honest story telling, this is clearly one of the bravest books I have ever read.
Liam’s narrative is delicate and poetic, describing feelings, situations and people in the most detailed and imaginative way – even though many of his experiences were far from poetic. How any individual can not only brave all those storms he had to face, but looks at them as valuable life lessons and continues to learn from each and every experience is a testament to their incredible inner strength. I was touched by the vulnerability of this life tale Liam was brave enough to share with the world. I’m sure it will inspire many (not only transgender) people out there. Truly inspiring!

Laura

This is a phenomenal autobiography. It will catapult you back into your own childhood, inciting nostalgia as you draw similarities between the one your reading and your own. It will rekindle your own passions – for work, for life, for your extra curricular activities, inspiring your dreams for your future as well as your now. It will remind you in a gentle way that judgment goes both ways, whether it’s religious, sexuality, personality, racism etc…… and that everybody makes mistakes. It will make you laugh out loud. You will feel a little teary. You will feel a desperate need to join a water-sporting group, have a party and/or road trip with a group of your loved ones, go see a circus performance, and pursue your passions.
I cannot recommend this book enough…. In fact… I may as well go and read it again right now.

Bookmuse UK, Review by JJ

The extraordinary tale of an exceptional life. Any one of the barbed wire fences Klenk has overcome might be enough to define an average person, but this journey is as far from average as can be imagined.
Born into the wrong body, adopted by dysfunctional parents, battling spasticity, marrying for convenience, living as an agnostic with Mormons, undergoing gender reassignment, suffering heartbreak and embracing career changes while digging deep for a true identity, this is an epic journey. An odyssey.
Paralian, meaning a water-dweller, is a wonderful way to connect the flowing adventures and experiences. Each chapter takes the name of a body of water, and each has as much variance of temperature and hue.
Autobiographies tread a delicate line. Especially those rare few actually written by the subject, as opposed to handed over to ghostwriters. How to balance the personal journey and the unavoidable self-regard? Thankfully, Klenk gets it right. This is essentially a subjective take on a set of jaw-dropping adventures and the character who managed not only to survive, but to triumph.
Readers travel through peaks and troughs without ever losing sympathy with our narrator, even when he exasperates himself. By the end of the book, we feel we have made a fascinating friend and feel uplifted by the encounter.

Jan-Michael Ehrhardt

One of the most inspiring biographies I ever read. The author takes you in his awesome story. I couldn’t stop reading. It’s not just a fascinating and touching story but also filled with insight in life, humanity and a bright sense of humor. While reading this book I recognized how beautiful, joyful – and at the same time often painful – human life can be, and that it is fully worthy to live this life, how difficult it may be. Very encouraging. I love it!

Sue Hofmann

Paralian is one of those books which, after finishing it, you feel at a bit of a loss as to what to read next because you know it will be hard to find something as enthralling!
It is one of the best books I have ever read, and definitely the best autobiography (I usually get bored at some point in an autobiography, but certainly didn’t with this one).
The author tells a very open story of his, at times, jaw-dropping adventures and experiences during his journey, which not only takes him around the world but also leads him to realize, accept and finally embrace the truth of being transgender.
I love the witty descriptions and comparisons in this well-written account, which also contains moments of sorrow and happiness, frustration and exuberance but a prevailing joy for life. Liam gets knocked down again and again, but always gets back up – not only for his own good but very often for the good of others too.
An extremely motivating, heart-warming story. Liam is a true inspiration to all of us.