RaveBookPageBeard’s prose is never more intensely vibrant than when describing death ... shimmers with a similar emotional intensity, especially when evoking the flashes of memory that come to those pausing on the threshold between life and death ... Beard is known as a nonfiction essayist, but her work often reads like suspenseful fiction ... Allowing her work to exist beyond the labels of fiction or nonfiction, Beard’s metaphorical patterns evince the imaginative truths that underlie her writing ... These resonances across the essays suggest a greater unity, a story unfolding over a lifetime ... Beard’s literary powers are most evident in the long eponymous essay that concludes this collection. Here, Beard weaves metaphor and memory into a stunning portrait of lifelong friendship, of those relationships that hold us and ground us across the decades, that persist with love even to the final goodbye.
PositiveBookPageRichard Bradford’s Devils, Lusts, and Strange Desires is the third biography of Highsmith to emerge in recent years, and it is by far the most lurid. As is clear from the very first page, which stopped me in my tracks, this is a biography that relishes in the worst that Highsmith thought, said and did. What is unclear, and on this topic Bradford’s analysis is very good, is to what extent the murderous impulses recorded in Highsmith’s diaries were \'real\' or an imaginative rehearsal for her novels. Bradford suggests that Highsmith embedded as many truths, lies and manipulative games in her diaries as she did in her novels, a strategy possibly designed to frustrate future biographers ... Highsmith’s love life was a roller coaster of attraction, obsession, alcoholism and trauma, but a more nuanced biography would contextualize this toxic brew within the homophobia and misogyny of the time. This is not that biography. Nonetheless, readers looking to immerse themselves in stories of very bad behavior will enjoy this deadly cocktail.
PositiveBookpageA noted historian of race in America, Dailey grounds this book with a clear narrative voice as she reviews the legal cases that institutionalized segregation in the American South ... Dailey shows how inflammatory narratives of sexual predation underpinned these assaults on Black lives, while also revealing how white women were then held to notions of racial \'purity.\' An illuminating contribution to the history of racism in America, White Fright reveals how white anxieties around gender and sexuality shaped the Black experience of social injustice.
PositiveBookPageGosden treats readers to a history of humanity through the lens of magic ... In this beautifully illustrated and written book, Gosden offers an encyclopedic compendium of magical practices across the globe and throughout history. Readers will gain much from the transhistorical perspective Gosden offers ... The global and historical reach of Gosden’s knowledge is astonishing and makes this book an essential reference work. But Gosden has another compelling trick up his sleeve. The book’s humane, urgent conclusion suggests that magic may even offer some clues for surviving our current global climate crisis. Many of the magical rituals and practices discussed here rely on the notion of an animate and sentient natural world. \'To be human is to be connected,\' Gosden argues. If we can reawaken our sense of connection to the natural world—to trees and animals and oceans—we may be able to encourage more humans to practice living lightly and harmoniously with the world around us.
PositiveBookPageAs a memoir, the story doesn’t shy away from the darker side of the writer’s life ... It also questions the ethics of memoir, of telling family stories that reveal other people’s secrets or bad behavior. Anonymity allows the writer to tell her story through the Duchess, while also preserving the family’s privacy ... Most importantly though, the Duchess is a light shining in the darkness, a beacon for troubled souls scrolling through their phones in the wee hours of the morning. Her presence has uplifted her human avatar, even as it heartens Her Grace’s ever-growing audience of \'loons\' and \'rascals.\' She might be an invention of social media, but—as the Duchess would say—her love is real.
RaveBookPageTran has written the great punk rock immigrant story. Or should that be the definitive refugee punk rock story? Or a story about how punk rock and great books helped a Vietnamese kid in small-town America fit in by standing out? Whatever order we put the words in, Tran’s book is my pick for the best, the funniest and the most heartfelt memoir of the year ... With grace and clarity, Tran writes pivotal scenes involving the sometimes violent disconnect between his traumatized refugee parents and their Americanized children—a testament to the sensitivity and balance he brings to his exploration of generational and cultural conflict ... filters the archetypal high school misfit story through the lens of immigration and assimilation, building it into a larger narrative about the ways music and books can bring us together, even when the larger world threatens to tear us apart.
Kimberly A Hamlin
PositiveBookPage...historian Kimberly A. Hamlin knits together the many strands of Gardener’s story into a compelling narrative about a woman who advocated tirelessly for the freedom to control her body, money and intellect ... With this biography, Hamlin has written a nuanced history of the suffrage movement through the life of a remarkable woman. Gardener wasn’t perfect, but this biography does an excellent job balancing her extraordinary achievements against her cultural blind spots.
RaveBookPageA profound and moving pilgrimage through the wilderness of grief, Cheryl Strayed’s Wild is one of the best American memoirs to emerge in years ... Painfully funny and honest, Strayed documents the sheer stupidity of her early days on the trail, when her pack weighs upwards of 70 pounds and she fills her camp-stove with the wrong kind of gas ... On the PCT, the loneliness of grief evolves into a visionary state of solitude ... Wild is never simply a survival memoir, although it offers up many a thrilling incidents...to compel the reader’s attention. It is also a guidebook for living in the world, introducing a vibrant new American voice with a deceptively simple message: Go outside and take a hike.
William J. Mann
PositiveBookPageMann masterfully captures Brando’s allure, his psychological complexity and the epic arc of his career ... Mann interweaves narrative strands from Brando’s traumatic childhood through his professional ascent to build a layered portrait of his ambivalences, rages and sexuality ... The portrait of 1940s New York and Brando’s time at the Dramatic Workshop is particularly fascinating ... Subsequent chapters in Brando’s life and work are as carefully and fairly handled ... From Mann, Brando receives a biography every bit as compelling and powerful as his own stage presence.
RaveBookPageAmong other things Commute does well, it’s a good education for men about the lived experience of women ... The illustrations can be lively and humorous at one moment and shattering the next. They show, in a way words can’t, how creepy it can feel to be stared at ... Some of the most arresting moments in this memoir concern Williams’ past use of alcohol to pursue bodily disassociation. Her subtle and devastating illustrations reveal the link between sexual assault and alcoholism in visceral detail, and the graphic-memoir format makes these issues accessible to a broad range of readers. Williams asks hard questions about shame, compliance and desire, both in her own life and in the larger culture ... she adds an eloquent voice to the chorus of stories testifying to the daily experiences of women under patriarchy. Commute is a book that really should be read by everyone.
PositiveBookPage... intricate and delicately worked ... Once the reader understands that this is no ordinary diary in which life is sliced into manageable chunks, the fun begins ... The magic of The Folded Clock is the way it recaptures time, slowing and bending it, to create something new: art from life ... By connecting these units of daily life, Julavits transforms her diary into an exceptional work of art.
RaveBookPage... a groundbreaking biography that reads like a spy thriller ... Although documentation of the French Resistance movement exists only in fragments, Purnell ably draws on a variety of sources to create a suspenseful, heartbreaking and ultimately triumphant tale of heroism and sacrifice.
PositiveBookPage\"A timely, educational blend of neuroscience and memoir ... Drawing from her own experience as a recovering drug addict, Grisel is uniquely positioned to study the neuroscience of addiction. She understands both the allure of drugs and the devastation they leave in their wake ... Now a professor and scientist, Grisel is a compassionate and empathetic guide to the hard science behind drug use.\
RaveBookpageThe labyrinthine corridors of Baltimore’s Belvedere hotel hide secrets and stories. If the rooms could talk, they’d speak of illicit affairs, crimes gone wrong and suicides. A true crime writer like Mikita Brottman couldn’t ask for a more perfect place to live. But when a partly decomposed body is discovered on the 13th floor, she is drawn into a dangerous obsession ... An Unexplained Death is a compulsive exploration of the shadowy borders of our collective fascination with unsolved crimes. It also offers a fascinating glimpse into the darker history of a once majestic hotel. But the most important story it tells is about the interrelationship of death and memory, how we remember and memorialize our loved ones, and how we fear being forgotten after we die. In the end, Brottman’s exploration of Rey Rivera’s death is an act of narrative remembrance.
RaveBookpage\"By 1981, a nascent punk scene began forming in church basements and town squares. But the consequences of looking like a punk or forming a band were dangerous. Getting hauled in by the Stasi—the East German secret police—for brutal interrogations became a daily or weekly occurrence for punks ... By 1983—the \'Summer of Punk\'—many of the original punks were serving prison sentences. But the flame was lit, and the torch was carried on by hundreds of kids who formed bands, squatted buildings and spoke out against the state ... Compulsively readable and beautifully researched, Burning Down the Haus records the critical role that punks played in the German resistance movements of the 1980s, up to and beyond the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
RaveBookPageBrown offers an acerbic biography of the star-crossed princess, one that is hilarious and bittersweet in turns ... All of these stories have been told countless times already, and Brown rather brilliantly parses the different accounts for what they tell us about the teller. Brown considers all the angles of many apocryphal stories, especially the ribald ones ... a surprisingly substantial page-turner. Brown’s gift for satire is tempered with a genuinely humane portrayal of the emptiness of the princess’s life ... Brown’s book is highly recommended for all American royal-watchers.
RaveBookPageBecause of its subject matter, Goodbye, Sweet Girl might seem difficult to read, but Sundberg’s crystalline prose and insightful narration lighten the reading experience…. [her] story is haunting, propulsive and, perhaps for some readers, familiar. Her wrenching memoir deserves to be read by a wide audience so that we can all learn to recognize the signs of domestic abuse
Terese Marie Mailhot
RaveBookPage\"This stunning, poetic memoir from Terese Marie Mailhot burns like hot coal. I read it in a single feverish session, completely absorbed and transported by Mailhot’s powerful and original voice … The strength of her writing comes from Mailhot’s fearless embrace of emotional darkness and in her depiction of the psychic cost of living in a white man’s world … Situating her physical and psychic pain in context with a multigenerational focus, Mailhot crafts an intensely moving story about mothers and what they pass down to their children.\
Maude Julien, Trans. by Adriana Hunter
RaveBookPageI have never read a memoir as terrifying as Maude Julien’s The Only Girl in the World. Newly translated into English, this is the must-read memoir of the season for those who, like me, have read them all ... Written in a childlike first-person voice, this memoir brings to life Julien’s horrifying experiences and her subtle rebellions against her parents as she refuses to be broken. The reader, too, is trapped and riveted by her story. An epilogue, written from her adult perspective, explains Julien’s theory of the cultlike psychological and behavioral control she was subjected to, and how it continues to shape her dreams and fears. This is a truly fascinating and intense read, and highly recommended.
PositiveBookPageReaders will need a scorecard to keep up with them all, but rest assured, there will be mistresses, euphemisms for sexually transmitted infections (poor Eddie’s 'gout') and general disobedience ... Queen Victoria’s Matchmaking is targeted at royal-watchers and viewers of BBC’s great biopic television series 'Victoria.' It may also interest readers of the 'what-if' school of history ...this is a rich history of Queen Victoria’s canny use of political power. 'Grandmama’s' interest in the marriages of her children and grandchildren goes far beyond a doting mother’s dedication to her family: Matchmaking had the power to make and break empires — if only those being matched would do as they were told.