PositiveNew York Journal of Books...at its best when Arceneaux discusses the day-to-day travails of struggling with the debt burden ...I Don’t Want to Die Poor is not without its flaws. It has its clumsy patches, and the book is full of slang and pop culture references which make it very much of the moment, but which may not age well. Arceneaux also points out that he knows the book will attract criticism from those who think he should have made other, less expensive choices in the past. That brand of criticism is precisely the point: I Don’t Want to Die Poor is an excellent critique of the way that our society encourages people to try for more, and then punishes them for doing so.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... a remarkable book that defies easy classification ... Whitman began editing both his book and his life, becoming less forthright and less of a prophet as time passed...Doty gives some attention to this retreat, though not as much as one would like ... While What Is the Grass is deeply personal, it is also clearly the result of many years of close study and scholarship. However, it lacks certain features (internal documentation, a bibliography, and a subject index) which would make it more useful for other scholars ... On balance, though What is the Grass is a fascinating book about Whitman, his poetry, and the ways queer life has evolved in America over the last three centuries, thanks, in no small part, to Whitman’s foresight.
RaveThe New York Journal of BooksRippon reminds us that gay doesn’t just mean homosexual, but it can also mean cheerful, light-hearted, playful, and exuberant ... Rippon is such a gifted and vibrant raconteur that he’s continually cracking jokes ... Of course, being a good storyteller is not quite the same thing as being a good writer, and one wishes that Rippon’s editor had paid more attention to grammar. In particular, verbs tend to float between tenses for no discernible reason. Still, Rippon’s style is so vibrant and conversational that few people other than English teachers are going to notice, let alone be distracted ... The real value in Rippon’s book lies in his descriptions of how he trained and how he crafted his career. Beautiful on the Outside is a fascinating study in motivation, concentration, and discipline, and one that has lessons for anyone in pursuit of excellence. The fact that it is so full of laughs only makes it that much better.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksIt is a testament to Dameron’s many skills as a writer that these women emerge as complex and worthy of our interest—and empathy—even if they are not always likeable ... Some of the most interesting sections of The Lie concern the collective efforts to heal ... Dameron does an excellent job explaining how and why he was so late in becoming ready. Like his mother and his wife, he emerges as a figure who is not always likeable; we see him make too many poor choices, tell too many lies, displace responsibility too often. However, it is to his credit that he is ultimately able to be honest about his own failures, and that honesty goes a long way toward redeeming him. \'We are not the first generation of queer people to have found ourselves trapped in a straight marriage,\' he writes, \'but please God, let us be the last.\' Books like his will help that prayer be answered.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksGilbert Baker, though a creative man, was not a big thinker. Very little of his book is consumed with broad theories or calls for social transformation. Instead, Baker’s prose is very much like his work on his industrial sewing machine: carefully crafted and focused on the task at hand. Rainbow Warrior is an engaging read. It is funny, poignant, painful, and triumphant. It is never less than entertaining.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksAllen’s strategy is different in that she goes for breadth rather than depth. As a result, Allen’s book is a Whitmanesque catalogue of America’s queer population: male and female; cis and trans; young and old; gay, bi, lesbian, pan; white, black, Asian, and Hispanic ... Allen tells their stories—and hers—in a casual, intimate style, effortlessly comparing and contrasting their Red State experiences with the ways LGBT issues are playing out at the state and national levels. In this, her book is admirable, because it allows her subjects to escape both the stereotypes and the condescension that normally surface when east or west coast journalists pay occasional notice to the LGBT population in \'flyover country\' ... But there is a problem with Allen’s encyclopedic approach; just as some of the people in Walt Whitman’s catalogs get lost among the sheer number of figures competing for the reader’s attention, so do many of the people Allen speaks to on her journey ... a fun read in which Allen’s copious research informs, but never overwhelms, the many stories of disparate, fascinating LGBT lives.
PositiveNew York Journal of Books\"Hudson’s stunning good looks and sexual magnetism made him a movie star of the greatest magnitude, but they also overshadowed his work as an actor ... in attempting to reestablish the proper balance between the story of Hudson’s work and the story of Hudson’s life, Griffin may have erred too much on the side of the work. While some parts of Hudson’s life are given careful attention (most notably, his curious marriage to Phyllis Gates), other episodes are given short shrift, and some key players are not much more than shadow figures ... At its best, All That Heaven Allows is a rich and complex story of Hollywood’s biggest star in its most golden age.\