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Ed Wood Jr. Book Review
by Jim McCrary

Death of a Transvestite by Ed Wood, Jr. Four Walls Eight Windows Press, New
York. 172 pgs. $9.95.

All hail the folks at Four Walls for the re-issue of the novels of Ed Wood,
Jr.!! You gotta love these people! Sure we all know The Man made great
movies....but novels? Now Four Walls has offered up three of Wood's works: Death of a
Transvestite, Hollywood Rat Race and Killer in Drag and you can bet these
books are as bizarre, quirky and outrageous as the flicks. We consider here
Death of a Transvestite the fictional account of Glen Marker who worked as a
mob killer for many years and is on his way to the electric chair as the
novel opens. But in the world of Wood Glen is Glenda a transvestite hit-girl
who is about to get fried. Leave it to Wood to come up with the greatest of
all 'last requests'. Marker doesn't want Taco Bell and Pepsi for a last
meal....she wants to go out in drag! And why not, eh? The Warden (imagine
Georgie, Jr. with this request down in Texas!) agrees if Glenda will spill
the beans on a couple of unsolved murders. This is the set up and to Wood's
credit it is not simply a narrative of Glenda's life in 1960's era drag
undies, slit skirts and a '38 snubbie in his purse. Wood, in his visionary
genius, uses a kind of trendy Dateline TV documentary style to carry it out.
While he gives us Glenda's narrative he cuts it up with excerpts from Sheriff
Reports, Medical Reports, witness transcripts and other off the wall
information. Yet it is the first person author that gives the reader a
further glimpse into the wacky world of Ed Wood, Jr. as this question to the
warden from Glenda as they share a smoke just an hour before 'the last mile'.
     "Is it true, after I'm strapped in and hooded - the second before you pull
the switch - one of your men will smash my testicles?"
     I'll let you read the warden's answer which is as interesting as the
question. As you can imagine this is not the only graphic example of the
Wood prose style. At one point in the narrative, Glenda has been observed by
a gas station attendant changing his outfit in the john. Wood's language is
perfect as he gives us a poignant description of the geek gas jockey.
     "The old man grunted. The musical voice of the beautiful thing he had seen
in the pink panties and pink-titty holder wasn't there any longer. He didn't
feel, any longer, the sensations in his aged groin. "Ah, what the hell? he
muttered. Just another pussy-shower..."
     What? Pink-titty holder? Pussy-shower? Ed Wood rules here and throughout
this novel. When one considers the majority of prose written and published
today as compared to what EW was putting down in 1967 one trembles in awe!
Today's boring memoirs by twentysomethings shooting dope at a disco in NYC
pales in comparison! You still don't believe me. Okay, here is another
Woody description of orgasm shared with a women after they had both removed
there bra's and panties:
     "The pink clouds opened up and the blue sky threatened to overtake them both.
But the thunder and the lightning blasted forth with a force she had never
experienced. Her eardrums broke and there was only silence as the colors
melted into a glowing darkness."
     Whew, I had to have a smoke when I read that! And it does go on in graphic
and at times wonderful violence. The bullets fly, bodies fall and beautiful
pink angora sweaters explode with blood as Glenda is on the receiving end of
a bullet.
     In the end...ah the end. You can't help but wipe away a tear of either
sadness or hilarity as Ed Wood, Jr. wraps it all up in drag and sends us down
the The Green Mile. Friends, buy this book. Please. Then find one of those
oh so hip retro lounges which have sprouted up in every neighborhood. Slip
in, order a martini, ignore the crowd around you and pull out Death of a
Transvestite. Sure your not reading an Oprah Book Club selection but what
the hell if Jerry Springer had a book club this book would be first on the
list and more people would be reading it than Op's choice for sure. You're
hip. You're on. Enjoy and tip the barkeep.

McCrary's latest publication of poetry: dive, she said newly released from Hog Oil Press. He continues to work as office manager and archivist at William Burroughs Communications in Lawrence, Ks. home as well to late filmmaker Herk Harvey who made the cult favorite Carnival of Souls.


dive, she said by Jim McCrary - available from Hog Oil Press, 927 Rhode Island St, Lawrence, Ks 66044. 65 pages. paper. $8.00 post paid.

Links: http://www.grist-on-line.com

Email: McSnake10@aol.com

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