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NO STRINGS  A  Novel by TP Catalano

Epigraph  to NO STRINGS
If you take a string and tie it into a knot, it will forever stay a knot.
If you untie a knot in a string, it is only a string
untied and no knot. A string is as good as no string.
No strings, no ties, no knots, no good.
Take a string, tie both ends, loop it around your hands and through your fingers and you can play the game of Pick.
Put a piece of string around one finger and you will not forget.
A violin string plays beauty.
You can string someone along.
A string is a string is a string, and like a rose, when it is not, it is not a string.
Thin enough, string is dental floss or fishing line.
Wide enough, string is rope.
Enough strings together as a rope, become a noose or a clothesline.
A string can tie us up like the innards of a golf ball.
A string is a straight line, to connect from point A to point B.
A string when a circle held enables us to bridge and meld.
A string is to connect.
When it does, it is no longer just a string.
It is the zing of the strings in our heart.


NO STRINGS - back book cover

All behavior is innate or learned. Yet, at birth, with the stroke of a doctor’s pen, an infant’s genitals alone determine whether a newborn is a boy or a girl. That assignment assumes identity, gender and sexuality remain constant throughout life. This powerful and provocative novel finds Terry Romano, the protagonist, born a biological girl in 1931. At seven, Terry discovers s/he is a boy and transmasculine, a complete contradiction of socially accepted concepts assigned at birth. A ballsy style, a kick-ass attitude, street smarts and a jock swagger all validate Terry, nicknamed TomCat, along with his uber prowess, good looks, talents and transmasculine ways. Society dictates how Terry should look, walk and act, what and what not to wear. Above all, Terry is warned: never to have sex with women. In his twenties, over a breakup with a woman, Terry enters individual psychotherapy. His life history in therapy sessions reveals an inner, emotional life so deprived, it is potentially able to destroy him. He is challenged to unravel the strings that have held him back and have threatened to obliterate him. Will Terry achieve professional success as a mature, transmasculine adult? Will he discover personal contentment, with a loving woman and partner in his life? Does he have the strength to overcome the naysayers who have surrounded him and, instead, embrace his identity and life choices with courage and pride?  No Strings is the journey of Terry Romano: his early entanglements, his cutting of burdening strings, his tightening of strings that tie and connect him to those he loved and continues to love. This is his story. This is his life.    

 Trumpet Flowers
Trumpet Flower, Photo by TP Catalano

Turning to the first paragraph in Chapter 1, Page 1:   

Terry knew from her earliest beginnings she belonged nowhere and to no one.
She had to catch her own fall, with only her skin for cover.
Thus, Terry set about to build her body as her own castle, to have as her home at all times.
Terry would fine-tune her body,
precise as a well-oiled machine, into a great athlete, strong, fast and 
agile. She would weather any storm. It worked, other than at times
when her young and shattered heart kicked in for love. Then Terry
discovered, all too early on, that loss, seemingly her destiny, clung to
her like moss on a Southern Delta cypress tree.

 Later the story unfolds -
"Do you have a piece of string?"
Terry asked her to take hold of one end while she took hold of another.
"Pull it taut."
Together, string in hand pulled taut, Terry began to tell Jean of her experience
with her birth mother.
"This is what it was like for me all the time Phyllis was alive, taut and tight
like this piece of string. I always felt this tension while she was still alive.
This is why I stayed away from her my whole life." Jean nodded.
"Now let go of the string."
They watched as Jean dropped her end of the string, which fell limp
onto the kitchen table.  Terry continued to hold her end of the string.
"That is the relief I feel now that she is gone.  She can never take anything
else away from me and my life!" Then Terry let go of her end of the string,
which  fell limp onto the table too.
"No string. No attachment. Simple as that."

"Childhood is short, yet the experiences last a lifetime."
Kids Count Study, 1992

"I don't think there has ever been a book that so precisely chronicles the disparity between a child's internal identity and the externals that surround him. Certainly no book set in pre-Stonewall."  --Stephanie Finnegan, Literary Consultant

"The tale Catalano tells, with a rarely seen transgender protagonist, is a brave and honest one, and the close examination it offers of the thoughts and feelings of a person struggling with gender identity—from the perspective of a writer who has experienced it firsthand—makes it enlightening and important. Succeeds in giving a voice to a community who are heard from far too little." --Kirkus Reviews

"One test of a good book that focuses on the life of its main character is if, at the end, you feel sad about leaving behind someone you've grown to care for . . . and you wish you could meet the character in the flesh. That is how I felt getting to know Terry Romano in No Strings. . . .Romano's life story, and the insights about how psychotherapy sessions work, pull you in deeper and deeper as the account of his life and relationships from childhood through adulthood unfolds. . . . In fact, there is much here to touch your heart and get you to pondering your own life's path." --
Sally Parsons, Windy City Times

Instrumental Abstract by TP Catalano, 1990
Instrumental Abstract by TP Catalano, 1990

Author Biography - back book cover

TP Catalano, B.Sci., M.A., psychotherapist, early on taught health and physical education and coached sports. He later had a successful, professional private practice twenty-eight years working solely with born bio-girl-children and adults in the same small New England town. He is an artist, loves to laugh, dance blues, slow and swing, strut his jock stuff and attitude, stifle all no-clothed emperors, a foodie, lover of nature and all Mother Earth’s critters, and connoisseur of Renaissance and Baroque music.
No Strings
is a first novel.

  TO ORDER BOOKS: Please send a check made out to  the Author's name, for the full amount of $41.91, to include $30.00 for book purchase plus Connecticut state sales tax 6.35% + S&H $10.00. Send check to P.O. Box 522, Westport, Connecticut 06881.  Be sure to include your snailmail address.   NOTE:  Online credit card services for buyers and sellers increase costs to both parties. The Terms of Agreement required for seller, loaded with lawyer stipulations, seems near to signing one's life away. In addition, No Strings will undoubtedly negatively ruffle some, suggesting the need for safeguarding and  measure of precaution.  A personal check, while seemingly inconvenient, lessens cost to the purchaser, scraps lawyer control over the seller, and potentially may inhibit contact from those who find this book contrary to their views.     

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