RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle... urgent ... classified as environmental science but could comfortably be labeled as horror ... Simon’s book is densely reported; nearly every sentence is a harrowing, footnoted stat.
RaveThe San Francisco ChronicleAs a premise it’s clever, and in the hands of another writer, the conceit might stop at cute. But Green is a ravenous and tender polymath, and the tiny essays are like winding mountain passes that lead you through unexpected landscapes, both in subject and in emotion. His reviews create a collage of factoids and a window into one person’s longings, fears and loves. An entry on Academic Decathlon (4½ stars) had me in tears, and a review of Canada geese (two stars) contains a line that had me doubled over in belly laughter. Each review is his version of Proust’s madeleine, unlocking the author’s sense memories ... The trauma to the Anthropocene of 2020 makes everything look different, from the war he wages against his garden groundhog nemeses to the point of creating art anytime at all, let alone in the midst of large-scale death ... The book makes the wondrous small — see his essay on Halley’s Comet — and the small wondrous — like his ode to Scratch n’ Sniff Stickers. The breadth of Green’s musings at times feels like a late-night dorm-room conversation, like his attempt to contextualize just how brief of a period we have been fumbling about the planet. But those conversations were fun, weren’t they? The Anthropocene Reviewed is the perfect book to read over lunch or to keep on your nightstand, whenever you need a reminder of what it is to feel small and human, in the best possible way.
RaveSan Francisco ChronicleReplete with unforgettable characters, taut pacing and the stakes of life or death (or, in this case, death or less death), you can see each scene of the blockbuster play out on the screen of your mind. Then, you remember the page-turner you are ripping through is essentially about bureaucracy and its failings ... The first half of the book... moves like a whitewater current. The second half, when COVID-19 descends, slows a bit, perhaps because it’s still so fresh and stomach-churning ... But perhaps what’s most illuminating about The Premonition is that the story is a Rorschach test to reveal your ideological worldview. A lefty will likely see the utter abandonment of government’s responsibility to its citizens due to political gain and vanity. A more conservative person might see a bloated apparatus of red tape and paper pushers dead set on preventing action ... Hopefully, a future president will pick up this book...and see it for the parable that it is.
PositiveSan Francisco Chronicle... a mind-bogglingly thorough book, a hybrid of urban history, reportage, profile and research on people and places that have been impacted by the retail behemoth ... MacGillis is equally adept in animating the economic picture ... The author contrasts the sepia-toned pasts of Sparrows Point, Md., and Seattle with a present in which an Amazon boot print has transformed each city’s fabric. When these places were more affordable, when there were well-paying jobs to be had, community and opportunity flourished. These sections of the book, while richly detailed and researched, feel overwrought and overly long at times, as if embroidered from a different project ... a compendium of tragedies large and small. I found myself craving solutions for divestment. One hopeful moment comes at the end, when in 2019, the U.S. government finally held an antitrust hearing. The company has since turned record profits. But MacGillis’ project is to show, not to solve. Since we, as consumers (and hypocrites like me), engage in this problem, it is up to us — along with legislators — to solve it.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle... luminous ... Clark-Flory is a funny, bighearted writer, and she examines herself and her subject matter from every angle. As a memoirist, she puts herself under the microscope and applies the same unflinching investigation she applies to the sexual landscape she analyzes. She retrospectively interrogates her own contradictions...She recounts graphic experiences not for prurient voyeurism but to understand her motivations at the time ... As a cultural critic, she seamlessly weaves in theory and research from phenomena spanning the orgasm gap to the differences in sexual performance between genders ... To call Want Me a sexual coming-of-age story is to give it short shrift; this is a book of insight, both cultural and personal. The author’s journey concludes with an ecstatic integration of past and present sexual selves, voices that don’t contradict but converse. We get the feeling that this isn’t the end, but another step along the road. As she writes, You arrive and arrive and arrive again. We watch Clark-Flory watch herself, and it is majestic to behold.
PositiveSan Francisco ChronicleBeck names and identifies white feminism in the hope of replacing it with a \'more holistic, ambitious approach to inequality.\' Beck’s book teems with examples of how white feminism has always been an exclusive club ... A section on the COVID-19 era brings into sharp relief the failings of white feminism, as poor and minority women have disproportionately suffered ... A former editor in chief of Jezebel and executive editor at Vogue, Beck interweaves tales of how white feminism would rear its head while working on the front lines of women’s media ... The project of extensively defining white feminism suggests the book’s audience is primarily white feminists; these are truths people of color, queer women and nonbinary people know from their experiences and histories. The book spends less time on solutions, but here, the author lands on the places white feminism overlooks.
RaveThe San Francisco Chronicle... searing ... continues the work of Oluo’s 2018 bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race? She reveals the levers and pulleys of systemic racism in America...The difference between the two works is of showing and telling. The first book told, literally: It guides people through navigating thorny conversations about race. Mediocre shows ... If you’re thinking you’ve heard this before — see slavery to mass incarceration — think again. The author excavates episodes even the most dutiful student of history may have missed ... a fast, engaging read, and Oluo is a warm, evenhanded narrator ... She occasionally lists atrocities in generalities ... This rhetorical choice does not resonate as profoundly as the precise historical examples she cites, along with her personal experiences ... This book is anything but mediocre, and it is the perfect holiday gift for any mediocre white man on your shopping list. Or just about anyone.
PositiveThe San Francisco Chronicle\'White collar crime, like cancer or influenza, comes in many forms,\' legal scholar Jennifer Taub writes in her blood-boiling new book, Big Dirty Money, where she examines white-collar crime in America and the ensemble of forces that enable it ...At times, her prose gets bogged down by acronyms and dense legal decisions, but Taub mercifully steps in with quippy analysis ... As I teetered on the brink of despondency, Taub proposes straightforward fixes and ways everyday people can get involved in taking white-collar criminals to task. This book raises the stakes even higher for November and is an exigent read for creating a more just society.