MixedNew York Journal of BooksThe book is written in Moran’s racy and raunchy style beloved by her fans though there’s an occasional misstep ... A breezy read but with few new insights and will no doubt find itself in the Women’s Section of the bookstores. The real proof of this pudding will come from the response of the men who have the fortune or persistence to find and eat it.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksEntertaining ... She appears to think that the spousal inequality and asymmetry is unique to literary marriages, and that the bias, initially at least, always favors the male partner. In fact, most of her chapters show both partners equally in thrall to gender stereotypes, conformity to which erodes at a more or less dramatic rate, which is pretty much what happens in many more banal marriages after all ... In short while the level of detail—and amusement—Ciuraru brings to each of her marriage portraits is not in doubt, her attempts to draw out general sociological principles to be applied to all literary marriages fails to convince and would be better abandoned ... With some variations of detail, the relationships follow familiar trajectories through passionate involvement, to waning sexual interest and infidelity, and to each party wanting their own way, more than they wanted each other. Nevertheless, these vivid studies of famous personalities and their interaction do tell us in some cases more about them than we knew, and perhaps confirm that this struggling model of conventional marriage is a thing of the past.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksVery detailed ... Horowitz has pieced together a fascinating story of a woman who \'lied all her life\' and died in 1954 at the age of 86 in a Hove nursing home, taking her secrets with her.
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... [a] rich and complex journey, riddled with conflicts, contradictions and reverses ... Every substantive chapter of this interesting book is packed with relevant testimony to support Heyam’s thesis of the long-established nature of the phenomenon of transness ... Heyam distinguishes their book from other trans histories in that \'invasive details about trans and intersex people’s bodies that populate many other histories\' have been avoided, stating that \'nobody needs to know exactly what someone’s genitals look like to understand their story\'—although very often for intersex individuals, examination of their genitals is precisely where their story starts ... Heyam does some sterling work on putting life into the cliché of \'socially constructed\' but could have been even more forceful in exposing the narratives that hold binarism in place, and the circumstances in which binarism is regarded as a requirement, such as in autocratic, conservative, and expansionist political regimes who cannot tolerate difference ... The strongest chapters, and those most likely to draw in the intelligent \'gender amateur\' are those packed with historical testimony ... The more explanatory and theoretical sections sometimes feel not fully realized, or perhaps not always made with sufficient force ... Hopefully their revelations of gradations, variety, intersections and combinations of sex, sexuality, and gender will soon lead more people to see that discrimination on these grounds is really not worth the effort, and that we should all be focusing our hostility on climate change . . . or Botox . . . or moon landings . . . or (fill in the blank).
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... detailed and exhaustive ... Seymour details tirelessly the many vicissitudes of Rhys’ personal and literary life ... This book seems essentially targeted toward Rhys’ many fans; it may also spur other readers back to the novels to see for themselves, though there are many long passages of ennui, when the trivial unpleasantness of Rhys’ bad behavior and sense of entitlement make it hard to continue. Some graphic depiction of a timeline of what she wrote, when, and where would have helped newcomers sort through the messier details here, and made this very elegantly produced book rather less of a chore for the unconverted.
Pyae Moe Thet War
PositiveThe New York Journal of Books... very engaging, lucidly written, and entertaining ... Overall, this is a fascinating collection of essays that brilliantly combines humorous and serious observations of cultural differences and issues of gender equality. One of the joys is to trace the author’s growing evolution and self-confidence as a writer and as an independent person, willing to face her own insecurities about, for example, her poor written skills in the Myanmar language ... The volume repays close reading though a few of the essays are overlong and repetitive. Probably the readers who benefit the most will have comparable trajectories, or at least some knowledge of societies that share some comparable characteristics to those of Myanmar, which is not for example alone in its naming patterns, difficult scripts, or ideals of femininity. Perhaps in her next volume Pyae Pyae will explore some of these seemingly highly idiosyncratic features in a broader cultural and political context.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksSchuller’s paired biographical approach and her pitting of white vs. intersectional models from the outset seems to risk entrenching a polarizing binary view which is surely not her intention ... Life was never so simple as her own data shows, even though the full range of intersectional issues...are not really addressed. And where do feminist men fit in? The data she has gathered is richer and more complex than the simple analytical model by which it is organized ... The biographical approach she uses also illustrates very clearly some of the problems of direct application of the concept of intersectionality ... It seems both simplistic and unnecessarily polarizing merely to pit \'white\' against \'intersectional,\' and to envision the defeat of the former by the latter as an event in the future ... Schuller has succeeded in her aim to give full recognition to many, distinguished women whose contribution has been overlooked, although her rewriting of the Sojourner Truth narrative may meet resistance ... Schuller has produced a work of impressive scholarship and research, from which many readers and students will benefit, though the rich and complex material she has assembled seems to demand a more nuanced analytical model.
Krys Malcolm Belc
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThis is a gripping testament to marital and parental love to be enjoyed by any reader, and powerfully informative for any person considering a similar path to the one so courageously chosen by Belc.
RaveThe New York Journal of Books... enthralling ... Midorikawa has assembled and analyzed an impressive range and variety of sources in building her biographies, but also in delineating the social, scientific and political changes that formed their backdrop. This was an era of rapid scientific changes bewildering to most people, as well as a time when the rumblings of the feminist movement in both US and UK were attracting more general attention. The latter and its relationship to the anti-slavery movement could have been further elaborated ... Overall, however, this is a thrilling read, striking inter alia for the nonchalance with which these female Victorian visionaries took on the rigours of transatlantic travel, and for the incidental intertwining of their remarkable lives.
RaveNew York Journal of BooksThe continuing lack of diversity and inclusivity of mainstream and other media both in their own organization and the messages they convey, and the impact of this on eating disorders and other mental health issues, are perhaps becoming rather well-worn themes, but Korn explores them again with elegance and passion that take her story above the banal.
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe clichéd assessment \'compulsively readable\' seems the most appropriate response to Andrew Morton’s 385-page book on the Windsor sisters, Elizabeth and Margaret. Much of this material will already be familiar, though perhaps given a different twist ... The biographer appears to have had extraordinary access in terms of intimate stories and winsome quotes ... The story bounces along in a language alternately stilted and slangy, well- suited to its main subject Margaret, known not only for her \'sex twinkle\' (Cecil Beaton), but also for her haughtiness faced with any signs of familiarity from the lower orders. Another royal trophy for Mr. Morton!
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksThe real key to the shape and tone of the book may lie in Beck’s exposure to the \'ideology\' of white feminism in the offices of Marie Claire and Glamour. She has many interesting observations of the essence of this particular feminism as being not only white and elite, but also thin, capitalistic, individualistic, and exclusive. But this obliges her to find other labels for non-white, working class, collective movements of women (and non-women) activists; or to appear to contradict her own very limited characterization of feminism ... This book is probably best seen as a series of essays in the course of which Beck’s thinking evolves and matures ... Perhaps the single label, feminism, so heavy with baggage, preconceptions, and contradictions has served its purpose and does not deserve further refurbishment and elaboration. This may be why so many people who espouse equality, collective action, \'intersectionality,\' and non-discrimination of all kinds can be heard to say \'I’m not a feminist but . . .\'
PositiveNew York Journal of BooksIn the chapters on cholera and on her work on anthrax Colwell manages with her enthusiasm and vivid prose to share her elation and triumphs even with a non-scientist, though as she notes very often mere scientific success was never a guarantee of recognition, or a smooth upward progression up the career ladder comparable to that of male scientists similarly qualified .. While these closing chapters are not as polished as those preceding them they include some useful observations relative, for example, to anti-discrimination legislation being the bare minimum requirement for change; and to the need for scientists to stop being “unidimensional personalities” and to embrace the humanities as she has done, as well as learning about and working in administration, business, and politics. The era of the pure nerd seems happily to be over, at least in Colwell’s own lab.
Susan J. Douglas
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... readable and persuasive, though the earlier glamorous chapters on aspirational ageing read as a bit too aspirational in fact, unwittingly casting some shade over Douglas’ later economic analysis, and recommendations for lifespan feminism, despite her attempts to redress this effect. It would have been interesting also to have more reflection as to what she expects of men, of all ages. The scenario Douglas paints is still one where women are doing all the equality heavy lifting ... As not all women are feminists, progress toward gender equality requires, statistically and otherwise, that not all feminists are women.
PositiveThe New York Journal of BooksThe book is organized into fragmentary but readable short chapters...All are crisply written and often amusing though some chapters seem to be conventional reviews and interviews, repurposed into looser Power Notebook mode. This is understandable but undermines the message that these are \'informal musings and notes.\' The men in Roiphe’s life are given some minor walk-on parts ... This is a book to divide opinion. Readers who are devoted to Roiphe as \'a cultural lightening rod\' may find these revelations revelatory. Non-fans may find the whole project a bit self-important, though most could probably agree that this is a nicely produced, well-written, short memoir for the bedside table to be dipped into before sleep.
MixedThe New York Journal of BooksA new publication by Jung Chang is always an event, though those who have read and admired her previous books...will perhaps be disappointed by this chronicle of the Soong sisters ... This is not a straightforward feminist fable by any means and Jung Chang’s attitude toward the sisters, and her coverage of them often seems ambivalent ... As is to be expected, Jung Chang shows her usual expert grasp of the ebb and flow of historical events across several countries and continents, though it would be helpful for readers less conversant with these facts to have included a timeline of key historical events, and a cast of main characters ... In the early chapters the sisters move in and out of the action in a sometimes confusing manner, and it is not until later in the book where the spotlight is placed on individual sisters in turn, that it is possible to gain some more solid understanding of their characters and relationships ... The author’s apparent ambivalence about her subject matter makes for an often-bumpy ride, though, in fairness, she is perhaps just trying to give a rounded picture of the complex character and position of the sisters ... Many passages read like the author’s jotting down a few thoughts to be expanded upon later by a team of researchers, and groomed by an editor, but not to be released as is. The reader should be prepared for an extraordinary though long and very uneven ride.
MixedNew York Journal of BooksIn this very readable and well-researched book Jennifer Block provides a wealth of insights and information as to how women are mistreated \'below the waist\' by the American medical profession ... This is a very big agenda and, perhaps not surprisingly, not totally realized. Block is much more successful in presenting information on medical mistreatment than she is in demonstrating why mistreatment persists in terms of the power dynamics between doctors and patients, doctors and midwives and doulas, doctors and pharmaceutical companies, doctors and media, doctors and women’s organizations, and feminists of various persuasions. Perhaps this is largely a matter of structuring and focussing the material she has gathered, as there are many intriguing observations and asides on the reasons behind mainstream feminism’s interest, or lack thereof, in women’s health care.
MixedThe New York Journal of Books... does add both breadth and depth to previous discussions and provides a little more ballast to the argument that nature and nurture are not so easily divisible but in dynamic interaction ... This reflection on the historical relativity of stereotypes could have helped to nourish her reflections on the ways to disrupt the \'brain-social context\' stereotype loop in the closing chapters, which seem rather perfunctory and even to row back from the earlier more nuanced discussions, stating as she does that \'culture-based problems need to be solved by fixing the culture;\' and \'maybe social and cultural factors have a much greater role to play in what looks like biologically fixed differences.\' This reads as if she has not quite convinced herself of the very convincing picture of interdependence she has presented. It is also surprising that she skates over the work of other scientists, which would have supported her case such as that dismissing the great stereotype XX and XY as no longer being the truth ... In the end, Rippon, as her predecessor Fine, balks at the \'cultural\' hurdle. Perhaps they could both enrich their next publications by finding themselves a social scientist to partner with?
RaveNew York Journal of BooksBy the discovery of new material relating especially to the existence of L.E.L’s children, Miller has been able to piece together very coherently the celebrity, notoriety, fame, and shame of the writer’s story. While the main focus is on the vibrant and vicious atmosphere of the male-dominated and misogynistic London literary scene, Miller also presents without indulging in pop psychology some fascinating glimpses of the family atmosphere ... This memorable and fascinating book is far from being just another example of the increasingly common attempts to excavate a female genius stifled by her male partner. Seen against the complex backdrop of her family circumstances, the machinations of literary London, and changing social mores that made a \'female Byron\' no longer socially acceptable, L.E.L., in death as in life, continues to intrigue and bewilder.
MixedNew York Journal of Books\"Proust’s Duchess chronicles in exemplary detail the wiles and wardrobes of three doyennes of Parisian high society ... Weber’s research into the three protagonists and their milieu is exhaustive, and the progressive accumulation of very fine detail needs to be ingested slowly ... A rigorous edit could also have removed some of the clichés... It is unfortunate that a book about stylishness should be so badly let down by the language. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating read for anyone interested in fin-de –siècle Parisian society, though one could have wished for a bit more Proust and a little less Duchess.