PositiveThe Irish Times (IRE)At the core of x + y is a thoroughly unique approach to thinking differently about gender and the ways in which we tend, both individually and collectively, to limit ourselves and one another as a result of gendering ... a book that, while impressive, does not successfully break truly new ground as it promises ... Cheng has an innovative mind, and as you read it is wonderful to witness her unique approach to thinking and problem-solving in action ... Her approach to mathematics is open-ended, exploratory, collaborative and rather life-affirming ... Ultimately, though, she replaces one binary with what looks in practice very much like another binary. If the point is that our language doesn’t capture specificity, then another binary is not a clear solution to the problem, and language of greater specificity may surely benefit from the input of fields such as psychology ... Still, the book is a fascinating, disarmingly accessible read and a wonderful example of what academics should in general do much more of: wade into the potential pragmatic applications of their specialist knowledge and make their discipline accessible to others. For Cheng’s project to have been successful, she would necessarily have needed to write an interdisciplinary book, branch outside her own particular discipline, and also engage deeply in several of the others she mentions above ... not groundbreaking, but it does certainly highlight the merit of taking new approaches to old problems.
RaveThe Irish TimesIn his first book, Once More We saw Stars New York writer Jayson Greene admirably captures the beauty and, sometimes, the ego of grief. It is as unrelenting, as furious as grief itself, its opening salvo an excerpt from Dante’s Inferno from which the book takes its title, and is a warning of what is to come ... Far from gratuitous misery for its own sake, Greene’s first book draws universal understanding from particular circumstances. He grounds his memoir in the many small absurdities of living with grief that keep his writing nimble; insensitive social workers, the relief of exercise, talking intimately with utter strangers in a support group, still having to answer his emails. Greene’s grief is a response to the worst kind of loss, but he does not \'pull rank\'. Anyone who has lost someone can find themselves in here ... In his most accomplished moments, Greene peels the skin right back on painfully intimate truths, and lets the air at something visceral in a way that many writers on death fail to do. The result is a grief memoir of rare and perhaps even unflattering honesty that gives meaningful context to living with loss and surviving something that seems impossible until it happens.
Rachel Louise Snyder
RaveThe Irish Times (IRE)The book is deeply impactful and thoroughly researched ... No Visible Bruises reset something in me. Oh, I thought. Oh ... [Snyder] confesses in the book to having consigned [domestic abuse] to being a feature within the lives of damaged people ... She robbed the issue of complexity, as so many of us do ... No Visible Bruises is a masterful attempt to counter that position ... No Visible Bruises also takes the novel and rather brave approach of engaging with abusers and batterers to gain a sense, through how they talk and think about their crimes and their victims, of how they came to be the way they are, and whether it is possible to rehabilitate a person with the hallmarks of an abuser ... Snyder’s openness to the humanity within abusers while acknowledging the horror of their actions and her own circumspection around their ability to reform themselves is something rarely encountered in this kind of writing. So too is Snyder’s account of victimhood, which manages to sidestep cliches and make a victim’s life seem less far away from one’s own ... Where the book falls short is in its wider contextualisation of how abusers and victims come to be, and the cycles in which they both become locked ... In short, the philosophy and psychology of abuse is far vaster than Snyder has scope, and perhaps inclination, to examine. However, the book is a truly unique and beneficial account of abuse and its cultural context.